California Unveils 12 Upcoming Films Planning to Shoot in the State

Hollywood sign

Hollywood sign

Amazon's Aaron Sorkin-penned Lucy and Desi Arnaz feature is one of the dozen projects.

There might not be much in Hollywood filming at the moment but that doesn't mean the industry isn’t laying out its future production plans. The California Film Commission announced today that 12 feature films have been selected to receive tax credits to film in the state under the incentives program, which kicks off its third iteration on July 1.

The four independent and eight non-independent films include Universal Pictures' sequel Half Baked 2, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Bay's dystopian thriller Little America, Fox's Florida-set drama Lady of the House and Amazon’s Untitled Lucy and Desi Project starring Cate Blanchett (the latter film, written by Aaron Sorkin, had been previously accepted for tax credits and reapplied for the current allocation round.) Other films include transgender teen drama Moonshadow, Asian family drama Ashes to Oceans and the immigration-themed The Test.

A total of 54 film projects applied for tax credits during the March 9 to 13 application period. The allocation was originally set to be announced in April, but approvals were delayed due to COVID-19 and the ensuing production shutdown. The allocation signals that the industry is beginning to get back to work.

The California Film Commission has reserved $40.2 million in tax credit allocation for the 12 film projects selected. Together, the dozen movies are set to generate nearly $225 million in qualified spending in the state. They plan to employ an estimated 1,745 crew, 543 cast and 14,668 background actors/stand-ins over a combined 444 filming days in California. They will also generate significant postproduction jobs and revenue for California VFX artists, sound editors, sound mixers, musicians and other vendors.

While most of the production activity will occur within Los Angeles’ 30-Mile Studio Zone, four of the 12 projects (Dead Dads Club, Dog, Little America and Pursuit) plan a significant amount production — 65 filming days — in Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. California will also double for a range of far-off locales like Iran (for The Test), Hong Kong (for Little America) and Florida (for Lady of the House). A project that was set originally in the Pacific Northwest (The Black Hole) was even rewritten to take place in Los Angeles.

Extending production activity beyond the 30-Mile Zone has been a key objective for the expanded tax credit program. Including the projects announced today, the film initiative has helped bring more than 50 out-of-zone film and television projects to regions across California, with an estimated total of $145 million in qualified out-of-zone spending.

“Program 2.0 has accomplished precisely what it was designed to do, from creating high-wage jobs to encouraging more out-of-zone production,” said California Film Commission executive director Colleen Bell. “As the industry begins to rebound from COVID-19, the launch of Program 3.0 will help continue to ensure that California provides an unparalleled value.”

Over its five-year duration, the revamped program has incentivized a total of 243 film and TV projects that have generated an estimated $11 billion in overall spending across California, including $4 billion in qualified wages to below-the-line workers and $3.7 billion in payments to in-state vendors.