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February 27, 2015

Weekly Update from Film Ontario, February 27, 2015

Weekly Update from Kelly Graham-Scherer, Los Angeles Representative

Happy Friday everyone,        

It has been a busy and eclectic news cycle this week and one of its major stories has implications for countless industries across the globe.

The Federal Communications Commission has adopted tough new Internet rules, which, among other things, are expected to preserve the digital frontier that has galvanized Hollywood's creative community. As detailed in the Los Angeles Times below, the production and distribution of digital content has sparked a surge in entertainment jobs that has helped drive employment in Hollywood to the highest level in a decade.

I drew your attention last week to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's plans to launch Greenlight Hollywood, a campaign promoting production in California. This week Variety explains it will involve LA film czar Ken Ziffren and his deputy Rajiv Dalal meeting with studio executives, packaging agents, financiers and managers, as well as volunteer boosters from labor and marketing, and executives from companies including from Screen Gems, De Laurentiis, Bad Robot, RatPac, Sunset Gower, Raleigh, AECG and Mack Sennett studios.

There were a few interesting stories to come out of production powerhouse Louisiana this week. The state's film tax credit program is currently under review and its advocates got a boost from a report in the New Orleans Advocate that claims about one of every seven visitors to Louisiana is motivated to come after seeing it on the silver screen or on TV. According to the president of the Louisiana Film Entertainment Association, this is an overlooked benefit of the state’s  film tax credit program.

Headlines in the New Orleans Times Picayune this week trumpeted that a myriad of changes to Louisiana's incentives program are under consideration. Despite the laundry list of noteworthy revisions in the article below, I contacted a very knowledgeable consultant who is close to the review and he has advised that none of these changes are even at the proposal stage and that it is unlikely that significant changes will be made to Louisiana's widely popular production incentives program.

Tax credits at work were also the subject of an eye-opening article from the U.K. Standard this week. As detailed below, £79m ($153 million Cdn) in tax credits were awarded to high-end television productions last year, the first full fiscal year of operation since the UK TV tax credit was introduced on April 2, 2013.

As you might imagine, there was a lot of analysis this week on the results of last weekend's Academy Awards and once again the lack of female director nominees was noted. As detailed in the Los Angeles Times below, no woman has been nominated for directing since Katheryn Bigelow took home the award for The Hurt Locker in 2010 and the number of major studio films directed by women fell to a low of 4.6% last year.

Much has been written over the last year or so about the emergence of on-line talent and the impact YouTube sensations are having on the traditional star system, but many were still struck this week by the announcement that Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart, two of YouTube's biggest names, will appear in a reboot of the 1970s TV show Electra Woman and Dyna Girl. As reported in the Times below, the series is a collaboration between Legendary Digital Media and YouTube video network Fullscreen Inc.

Finally this week, Venture Beat has a very encouraging article about the positive environment the OMDC has created for interactive digital media entrepreneurs. As detailed below, on a per capita basis, Canada has largest gaming industry in the world, with more than 329 gaming companies employing more than 16,500 people and it is substantial government support and access to great technical and creative talent that make Ontario one of the best places to build a gaming company.

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