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Grease: Live! grappled with California filming incentives

Production for Paramount Television’s broadcast Grease: Live! contended with the uncertainties of California’s filming incentive programme to finalise its Los Angeles shoot.

The show is a live version of the classic 70s musical and was put on a waiting list for incentive support in California. Producers had to consider braving the unpredictable New York winter as its broadcast date approached, reports the LA Times.

At the last minute, the cancellation of David Fincher’s drama series Utopia – intended as a remake of the UK cult series – freed up the necessary tax credit funds for Grease: Live! 

Scheduled for its live broadcast in the US on Sunday 31 January 2016, Grease: Live! will film on stages and standing set facilities at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. The show’s production costs reportedly run to around $16m, just over $10m of which qualifies for incentive support.

"We were somewhat handcuffed by the financials on the project," said Roderick Smith, executive vice president of production finance at Paramount Pictures, in comments to the LA Times. "We would not have done the show here in California without the credit."

California recently boosted the annual film fund for its production tax credit, with most of the money (60%) allocated towards TV shoots, including series relocating from elsewhere in the world.

In December the California Film Commission granted tax credit support to 11 television productions. The majority of the 32 that applied for support failed to get it, but another TV application window opens on 15 February. 

Last week the commission closed its latest application window for big-budget and indie features. Just over $30m is being made available to studio movie productions, but the figure is still too small to be of interest to the bigger films.   

For more on filming in California see our production guide.

 



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