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January 3, 2018

December 15th News Report from your Los Angeles Representative

Happy Friday everyone,

Many people may be dealing with information overload today as not one, but two, of the most significant shakeups in decades in the screen-based industries were announced yesterday within a few hours of each other.

Yesterday Disney announced its purchase of Fox on the same day that the Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the Internet.

The Disney-Fox deal is widely seen as a bold attempt by Disney to bulk up for the coming battle against streaming giants like Amazon and Netflix, as well as tech companies like Apple and Facebook that are not yet fully utilizing their content distribution platforms. As detailed in a comprehensive LA Times feature below, the takeaway is that legacy media — or at least Disney, the king of them all — isn't going down without a fight.

The Times also examined the more immediate and local impact of the merger and predicted that hundreds of Fox employees are likely to be subject to layoffs. As reported below, the companies have many overlapping departments and Disney would look to wring savings from an estimated $2.5 billion in synergies.

The FCC vote to repeal net neutrality rules has spawned countless analyzes of how fast and slow lanes on the Internet will impact both consumers and content creators. Having read dozens of articles, I appreciate the simple one below from Rolling Stone which posits that "the most likely outcome is that prices will go up, variety and diversity will go down and the largest, best-capitalized Internet companies will gain a significant advantage over upstart competitors".

In other news this week, the latest round of projects to receive California tax credits were announced. As detailed below in the Hollywood Reporter, a total of $69 million in tax credits has been reserved for 11 projects including four films, three pilots and four recurring series already in the program.

A bill in New York that would link production incentives to diversity hiring is waiting for the signature of Governor Andrew Cuomo. As reported in Deadline below, the bill would provide $5 million in annual tax credits for projects that hire female and minority TV writers and directors.

Studio expansion plans in Toronto made headlines in Hollywood this week. As detailed in the Hollywood Reporter below, Pinewood Toronto Studios unveiled plans this week to add about 96,000 square feet of space by the end of 2019, including stages, workshops and production offices, and to eventually get to 700,000 square feet, just over double its current capacity of 11 soundstages with more than 330,000 square feet.

Finally this week, The Shape of Water, shot in Toronto by resident and top civic booster Guillermo Del Toro, earned seven Golden Globe nominations, thanks in part to the contributions of talented local people. The Toronto Star this week took a look at VFX house Mr. X, which worked on more than 60 minutes of the film.

Congratulations to Mr. Del Toro and to all the Ontario people who have earned Golden Globes nominations and/ or worked on nominated projects.

As we head into awards season I want to give a special shout out to Ontario native Donald Mowat, who is the subject of this weekend's Insight Series, presented in Los Angeles by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Donald is an extraordinarily successful makeup artist and designer whose credits include Blade Runner 2049, Stronger, Sicario, Prisoners, Nightcrawler, The Fighter and 8 Mile. I have known Donald almost 20 years, since I worked at IATSE Local 873 in Toronto, where he was, and continues to be, one of the local's top keys. Donald is as gracious as he is talented, and I'm thrilled by the international acclaim he has earned these recent years.

Warmest regards,

Kelly Graham-Scherer
Los Angeles Representative
Toronto/ Ontario Film Office

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