Why Production in California Is Booming Even Beyond L.A.'s 30-Mile Zone

Swiss Army Man still 1 - H 2016
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Production in the state is on the rebound thanks to a robust film commission presence, irresistible incentives and great backdrops in L.A.'s own backyard.

Few locations offer the diversity of looks and vast infrastructure that California does, which partially explains the 11 percent filming jump in the first quarter of 2016, according to a report from FilmL.A. "Tax incentives aside, we tend to be producers' first choice due to the ease of working here," says California Film Commission executive director Amy Lemisch, who adds that the network of 40 official film commission offices (each with its own unique enticements, a few examples of which are highlighted on the below map) helps to encourage shooting in all corners.

"It's definitely more challenging to get people to venture outside of the 30-mile zone [around L.A.], but we're starting to see more of that because we have a wealth of looks that can match for other regions." An additional 5 percent tax credit for shooting outside the zone helps. The Film in California Conference on May 21 will promote the state's resources as well as honor producer Ryan Murphy — "a champion for filming in California," says Lemisch — with the first California Golden Slate Award.

WHITE: Film Liaisons in California Statewide (FLICS) offices …
BROWN: including locations with recent notable projects
YELLOW: and a sampling of local enticements

A. Swiss Army Man (A24)
Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe spent six days shooting the surreal drama in Humboldt County last fall.

B. Placer Lake Tahoe
Spike Jonze filmed Her in this county, which offers free film permits and free use of county-owned locations.

C. Sense8 (Netflix)
The series shoots in San Francisco, which offers a refund of up to $600,000 on any fees paid to the city for qualifying projects.

D. Ridgecrest 
This city just outside L.A. waives permit fees and has a desert landscape that easily can serve as “the middle of nowhere.”

E. Santa Barbara 
The county provides additional cash rebates for certain shows and films as well as for permit fees and 50 percent of affiliated CHP, sheriff or police department costs.

Santa Clarita, where some of NCIS is shot, subsidizes permit fees for approved productions and partially refunds hotel taxes.

G. The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX)
West Hollywood, where American Crime Story partially shot, is in the 30-mile zone and close to the major studios.

H. Chips (Warner Bros.)
The end of the 710 Freeway in Los Angeles was used for chase scenes in this upcoming remake (and in The People v. O.J. Simpson).

I. Rosewood (Fox)
Anaheim isn't just the home of Disneyland. This drama, starring Morris Chestnut, partially shoots in the Orange County city.

This story first appeared in the May 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.