The Story Of Film Incentives By Lori S. Wyman, CSA
Saturday, 07.08.2017, 11:32 PM
The Story Of Film Incentives
By Lori S. Wyman, CSA
According to a new study from FilmL.A., the not-for-profit film office that serves the Greater L.A. region, Georgia hosted more feature film productions in 2016 than any other market in the world, including the United Kingdom and California. That’s pretty big! The reason that Georgia is the biggest filming state these days is due to their film incentive program. Georgia gives up to 30 percent back to productions who spend money in their state for filming. They give them this as a transferable tax credit.
According to this source, the various productions spent around $2.02 billion.
One of the questions that pops up is how did these film incentive programs start. I’d like to share that story with you here.
Back in the early 1990’s there was some called “Runaway Productions.” These were television and film productions that “ran away” to Vancouver and surrounding areas in Canada. You see, the rate of exchange was $1.50 to $1.00. The US production companies could go up to Canada and for every dollar they spent they could get $1.50 worth of product or services. Vancouver, in particular, became a very busy production hub. I had so many friends who were buying property and moving up to Canada. I had friends who had one or both parents who were Canadian natives and they were getting a Canadian passport so they could work up there.
One day the state of North Carolina got smart. They figured if they offered a similar deal to production companies, maybe they could get in on the action as well. AND they did! In the early to mid 1990’s there were so many productions shooting in North Carolina, specifically the Wilmington area, that many actors and crew people were now relocating to the Wilmington area. Projects like The Crow, Matlock, Forrest Gump, Nell, Dawson’s Creek, and One Tree Hill just to name a very few, were shooting there. Some of the other states saw what was happening and they wanted to get in on the action, and they did. The state of Michigan offered an incentive package in the 40% back category. The talk of the town was that no one would shoot in Michigan in the winter despite the fabulous film incentives they were offering, but they were wrong. You see, if you are a business owner, you know that if you can shoot your $10 million movie for $7 million you will go anywhere to do it. If you need exteriors and you are in Michigan in the dead of winter, well maybe you’ll shoot your exteriors in South Florida for 2 weeks and shoot the rest of your project in Michigan on a sound stage, inside! By this time, other states were catching on. Louisiana came up with a very lucrative plan for filmmakers and Shreveport and New Orleans became the “it” places to shoot. I knew lots of actors who moved to Louisiana from Los Angeles.
I am in Florida. In 2011 we had a great film incentive package going on here. I was actually casting 5 television series at the same time. As you know, in our business it is either feast of famine, so we do the work when we get it. Not only was I casting these 5 TV shows, I was also casting major feature films. It was a wonderfully lucrative time for people in the film industry here in Florida.
At this writing, the big areas in our country that have the best incentive packages are Georgia, California, and New York. If you are an actor, you have lots of opportunities even if you don’t live in these states currently. A relatively new concept came up that I call self-taping. This is where you receive a casting with the sides and you can tape it yourself from wherever you are and email it in. It is a brilliant idea. The very first time I actually engaged in self-taping was back in the early 1990’s. An actor friend of mine had driven up and back to Wilmington, NC, to audition for a TV show called Matlock, starring Andy Griffith. This actor drove up on a Monday, auditioned on a Tuesday, and drove home on a Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon he received a phone call from his NC agent who asked him if he could come back up on Friday to audition for another part in that same episode. He called me in a panic. He just couldn’t make that drive again so soon. I told him there is only ONE excuse that a casting director wants to hear why an actor cannot make a casting. That is that they are booked on something else on that day. I told him to ask for his sides. At this time the only way to get sides were to get them faxed. So, the agent faxed the sides over and I taped him on a VHS tape and we overnighted it on Thursday night, so they would receive it on a Friday. You see the producer and director had already met the actor. It wasn’t about meeting the actor. They obviously liked him, otherwise they wouldn’t have asked to see him again. They only needed to see this actor perform the new sides for the new character. This was the very first time I engaged in what we now call self-taping services. This was the first time that agent and those producers for that show had engaged in that sort of activity as well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. AND IT WORKED! That actor booked the role and went on to reprise that role for a total of 6 times. A nice recurring role was born out of that self-taping activity.
If you are in an area of the country that doesn’t have as much work as another, please know that you have many opportunities to work. You can submit a self tape. Are you on Actor’s Access? There are many casting opportunities presented on that site. If you want to work in a particular area, I highly recommend that you get an agent in that area. That is the very best way to find out about auditions in those areas. I am located in the Southeast and I have an actor’s resource page on my website www.theorganicactor.com . Check it out and go to the websites of the agents you want to submit to. Follow their submission guidelines to obtain an agent in a new area. You CAN work in a new area while you’re waiting for your state to get smart and incorporate film tax incentives into their economy!!!
Good luck to all!!
Check out loriwymancasting.com and theorganicactor.com to find out what is going on in and around the Southeast.
Lori S. Wyman, M.S., C.S.A. is dedicated to helping actors pursue their passions so they can live their dreams. Traveling all over the country, Lori draws industry beginners and professionals to hear her expertise on the subject of Auditioning for Film and Television projects. Lori has recently been the Florida Casting Director on Netflix’ Bloodline, HBO’s Baller$, Graceland, Burn Notice, The Glades, Magic City, Pain & Gain, Iron Man 3, Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2, Every Witch Way, and too many more to list.
She recently completed her Master’s Degree with a concentration in Drama Therapy. She tackled this in order to help actors overcome Audition Anxiety as she sees this as one of the major obstacles facing actors during their castings.
Lori’s Book: The Organic Actor: Insider’s Secrets to Auditioning for Film and Television is widely acclaimed and a “must have” for any actor who intends to make Film and Television acting a part of their acting career.
Lori has been in casting in Florida since 1979. She has been nominated for 5 Artios Awards for projects including “Dexter,” “Pain and Gain,” and “Bloodline,” and has 1 Emmy nomination. She is an Artios Award winner for the acclaimed HBO movie, “Recount.”
Lori's office is located in North Miami Beach, Florida, but she travels all over the Southeast for casting projects. She can e reached at email@example.com
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