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Overview

Here we provide a breakdown of the key US territories and what they have to offer....

California

The Golden State has further boosted its incentive programme to woo back and keep features and TV production, and now new studios are being built to match the growing demand. 

In July 2021, the California State Legislature further boosted the state’s 3.0 tax credit programme, which runs from 2020-25, by making an extra $30m available over the next two years for TV series relocating to California and an extra $150m over two years for series already shooting in the state. 

A further $150m is being offered over the next several years for projects made by companies investing in California soundstage studios and adopting diversity goals for hiring above- and below-the-line workers. 

This is in addition to the $330m annual allocation that aims to reclaim production business from other states and international hubs. 

The 3.0 programme increases the portion of that total available to independent films from 5% to 8% and splits the independent pot into one category for projects spending less than $10m and another for projects spending more than $10m. 

However, some independent producers say the process is too complex and lengthy and opt for the more straight­forward incentive programmes in Georgia, Massachusetts and Canada

The portion of the total available to relocating TV series, meanwhile, has been cut from 20% to 17%.

Among projects approved for credits so far under the 3.0 programme have been Zack Snyder’s Netflix sci-fi adventure Rebel Moon, Universal’s untitled Jean-Marc Vallée film and Amazon Studios/Film4 sci-fi thriller Encounter.

TV series persuaded to relocate to California include HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant and Amazon’s Hunters, both of which shot their first seasons in New York. The Covid-19 pandemic brought the state’s production inThe pushback from Hollywood over Georgia’s new restrictive voting rights law is threatening to take the shine off the state’s reputation as a busy production hub. 

Over the past decade Georgia has become the third-largest production centre in the US, thanks to a generous tax credit of up to 30% and a fast-growing industry infrastructure that has lured productions — especially big-budget studio features — away from California and New York.

Recent film and TV projects shot in the so-called Peach State include Anya Taylor-Joy horror comedy The Menu, Netflix’s real-life-based drama Dog Gone, MGM’s upcoming Sylvester Stallone action fantasy Samaritan, Amazon’s The Underground Railroad, Disney/Marvel’s Wanda­Vision and the final season of AMC’s longstanding Georgia resident The Walking Dead.

The pandemic slowed production activity in the state, with direct spending on film and TV dropping from $2.9bn to $2.2bn in 2020. But with local mogul Tyler Perry leading the way at his Atlanta-based studios, the local industry got back to work relatively quickly and projects shooting early in 2021 included Warner Bros’ Dwayne Johnson action fantasy Black Adam, Netflix’s Jamie Foxx comedy Day Shift and Disney/Marvel’s She-Hulk series. For the whole of its fiscal 2021, the state reported a record $4bn in direct film and TV spending.

The growth of the Georgia industry continues, however, to be threatened by political developments. In the spring of 2021, the state passed a restrictive voting rights law that was attacked by Hollywood film unions and caused star Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua to shift production of Emancipation, their runaway slave thriller for Apple TV+, from Georgia to Louisiana.

Other filmmakers have condemned the law but held off from calling for a boycott. Most notably director Ryan Coogler, who shot Black Panther in Georgia in 2017, decided to keep production of his sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in the state.

More Hollywood pushback could result if Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion law — passed in 2019 but subsequently blocked by a federal court — returns to the headlines after an appeals court hearing expected to take place around the end of 2021.

The long-term effect that the political controversies have on the industry in Georgia is still to be gauged, but other US production hubs have already sensed an opportunity — politicians in California and New Jersey have recently been pitching their states to producers as more progressive alternative locations to Georgia.

dustry almost to a halt last summer and a few big projects — including Hulu limited series Nine Perfect Strangers, which moved to Australia — changed plans rather than waiting for California to re-open. Production activity slowly resumed over last autumn, however, and by June 2021, on-location activity in Los Angeles was back to pre-pandemic levels, according to permit provider FilmLA.

TV and streaming series such as FX’s Mayans MC and HBO Max’s Made For Love were among the first projects to return to work, and features including Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama Licorice Pizza, Warner Bros’ Will Smith tennis biopic King Richard and FilmNation Entertainment’s family comedy Dog also started shooting under the industry’s strict return-to-work agreement. The agreement was still in effect as of October after being renewed twice. 

With the threat of strike action by filmworkers union IATSE recently averted and a tentative three-year agreement struck with the US studios, the state’s new incentive funding should keep it competitive in the long term with rivals such as Georgia, New York and Louisiana.

California governor Gavin Newsom, alluding to industry opposition to restrictive new voting laws in Georgia, has suggested the new California funding creates “an opportunity for those productions… in places like Georgia, whose values don’t necessarily always align with the production crews, to consider coming back to the state of California”. 

Infrastructure and crews

California has a massive production infrastructure and a vast crew base of experienced set workers and technicians. Even those resources can be stretched thin, however, when the industry is operating at full speed, as it looks set to be doing soon, after the pandemic slowdown of 2020.

The state has 5.2 million square feet of stage space, according to FilmLA, the organisation that handles permitting and serves as the official film office for the City and County of Los Angeles, where the vast majority of studios are located. But with many facilities operating in normal times at near full capacity — especially between February and April when pilots for new TV series are shot — stages, particularly those bigger than 30,000 square feet, can still be hard to come by. 

Major facilities in the Los Angeles area include Fox Studios, Sony Pictures, Los Angeles Center Studios, Raleigh Studios, Allied Studios and The Culver Studios (which is currently being expanded for new tenant Amazon). Independent facilities include Sunset Gower Studios’ 12-stage centre in Hollywood, Siren Studios, also in Hollywood, the MBS Media Campus in Manhattan Beach and Crimson Studios in Chatsworth.

New facilities in the area include Quixote Studios’ five-stage complex of 75,000 square feet, and LA North Studios, a former warehouse with five stages of 125,000 square feet. Studios that have recently expanded include NBCUniversal, Santa Clarita Studios, Line 204 and Warner Bros.

A number of new facilities are being planned by developers trying to keep apace with growing demand for studio space: Sunset Glenoaks Studios is set to open in late 2023 with seven soundstages; Echelon Studios, slated to open 2025 in Hollywood, will be a $450m facility with five stages; Blackhall Studios in Santa Clarita, with up to 20 stages, is due to be completed in 2024; and Television City, home to a number of TV shows from former owner CBS, is in for a $1.25bn overhaul.

Northern California has traditionally been the centre of the state’s film technology business and San Francisco and Silicon Valley are home to Pixar, Dolby, Industrial Light & Magic, Skywalker Sound, American Zoetrope and dozens of other production, animation and effects companies.

However, live-action shooting has recently become more common in the Bay Area around San Francisco thanks to the opening of two facilities adapted for filming: Film Mare Island, a former shipyard with 200,000 square feet of soundstage space; and Treasure Island Hangar 3, with 79,000 square feet.

Size matters

California is the most populous US state and the third largest by size, stretching 770 miles from the US-Mexico border at its southern end to its northern border with the neighbouring state of Oregon. The span takes in the desert landscape and cities of San Diego and Los Angeles in the south, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the high-tech hub of Silicon Valley around San Jose, San Francisco and the Bay Area and, in the far north, the mountains and forests beyond state capital and political power centre Sacramento.

Traveling from Los Angeles or San Diego to San Francisco and San Jose two thirds of the way up the state’s Pacific coastline takes about 90 minutes by air or seven hours by car on the state’s extensive and heavily used freeway system.

Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport — both 11- to 12-hour flights from Europe — are the major hubs for visitors from overseas, but there are also about a dozen large commercial airports, among them San Diego International, with flights to London, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Vancouver and Toronto, and San Jose International, with flights to London, Beijing, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Vancouver.

Most of the state’s production facilities are within an hour or two of the Los Angeles or San Francisco airports, though traffic congestion is a factor when trying to get around California’s sprawling conurbations.

First person to contact

Colleen Bell, executive director, California Film Commission 

@ cbell@film.ca.gov

Georgia

The pushback from Hollywood over Georgia’s new restrictive voting rights law is threatening to take the shine off the state’s reputation as a busy production hub. 

Over the past decade Georgia has become the third-largest production centre in the US, thanks to a generous tax credit of up to 30% and a fast-growing industry infrastructure that has lured productions — especially big-budget studio features — away from California and New York.

Recent film and TV projects shot in the so-called Peach State include Anya Taylor-Joy horror comedy The Menu, Netflix’s real-life-based drama Dog Gone, MGM’s upcoming Sylvester Stallone action fantasy Samaritan, Amazon’s The Underground Railroad, Disney/Marvel’s Wanda­Vision and the final season of AMC’s longstanding Georgia resident The Walking Dead.

The pandemic slowed production activity in the state, with direct spending on film and TV dropping from $2.9bn to $2.2bn in 2020. But with local mogul Tyler Perry leading the way at his 

Atlanta-based studios, the local industry got back to work relatively quickly and projects shooting early in 2021 included Warner Bros’ Dwayne Johnson action fantasy Black Adam, Netflix’s Jamie Foxx comedy Day Shift and Disney/Marvel’s She-Hulk series. For the whole of its fiscal 2021, the state reported a record $4bn in direct film and TV spending.

The growth of the Georgia industry continues, however, to be threatened by political developments. In the spring of 2021, the state passed a restrictive voting rights law that was attacked by Hollywood film unions and caused star Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua to shift production of Emancipation, their runaway slave thriller for Apple TV+, from Georgia to Louisiana.

Other filmmakers have condemned the law but held off from calling for a boycott. Most notably director Ryan Coogler, who shot Black Panther in Georgia in 2017, decided to keep production of his sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in the state.

More Hollywood pushback could result if Georgia’s ‘heartbeat’ abortion law — passed in 2019 but subsequently blocked by a federal court — returns to the headlines after an appeals court hearing expected to take place around the end of 2021.

The long-term effect that the political controversies have on the industry in Georgia is still to be gauged, but other US production hubs have already sensed an opportunity — politicians in California and New Jersey have recently been pitching their states to producers as more progressive alternative locations to Georgia.

Infrastructure and crews

The state’s crew base draws from more than 30,000 film workers. Its infrastructure includes more than 3,000 film and TV-related businesses and the second biggest volume of soundstage space in the US, with greater availability of medium and large stages than in more established production hubs. 

Major facilities include Areu Bros Studios, Atlanta Metro Studios, Blackhall Studios, Eagle Rock Studios, EUE/Screen Gems and the 12-stage Tyler Perry Studios. The former Pinewood Atlanta Studios, the third-largest facility in the US with 18 soundstages, has been recently rebranded as Trilith Studios.. 

Forty miles outside Atlanta, Cinelease Studios Three Ring is a new facility with 110,000 square feet of soundstage space. Near Savannah, construction has begun on Kat-5 Studios, a sustainable soundstage complex expected to open towards the end of 2022. 

Size matters 

Georgia extends about 300 miles from north to south and about 250 miles from east to west, with capital Atlanta in the north and historic Savannah on the Atlantic coast. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport offers flights to all major US cities as well as London, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Toronto, Vancouver and Doha. Flight time to London is about eight hours and about five hours to Los Angeles.

First person to contact

Lee Thomas, deputy commissioner, Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office Lthomas@georgia.org

New York

Filmmakers and high-end TV projects are hungry to ramp up production in the Big Apple and wider New York state after the enforced pandemic pause. 

Centred on one of the world’s most creative and cultured cities, New York state offers producers a huge pool of acting, writing and behind-the-camera talent as well as iconic locations ranging from Niagara Falls to the streets of Manhattan.

But it has been the state’s tax credit programme that has kept New York, once considered too expensive for anything but a few vital location shots, among the busiest film and, particularly, TV production hubs in the US. Over the past 15 years, the programme has awarded $8bn in production and post-production incentives to around 2,200 projects.

The programme was recently renewed to the end of 2025 with funding of $420m a year, though the level of credits was cut from 30% to 25%. TV projects that have been drawn to the state include HBO Max’s Sex And The City sequel And Just Like That…, HBO’s Succession and Netflix limited series Halston. Among features shooting in the city of New York have been Netflix award-winner The Forty-Year-Old Version and Bron Studios’ Denzel Washington-directed Sony project A Journal For Jordan.

The pandemic hit New York hard in the early months of 2020 and film and TV production was suspended from March to mid-July. Production activity continued through a surge in cases around the end of 2020 but the pandemic caused a big drop-off in applications to the tax credit programme. 

In the first quarter of 2021 (the most recent period for which the state has reported figures) activity began to pick up, with 11 projects applying for $48m in estimated production credits, compared to the eight that had applied for $40m in the last quarter of 2020. 

Latest Covid-19 protocols

In mid-June, New York began to relax its on-set protocols, with the state’s detailed Interim Guidance for Media Production requirements becoming optional. By September, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment was reporting overall production back at pre-pandemic levels, with 34 projects shooting in New York City’s five boroughs.

governor.ny.gov/sites/governor.ny.gov/files/atoms/files/MediaProductionShortGuidance.pdf

Infrastructure and crews

New York has one of the most experienced talent and crew pools in the world and an infrastructure that includes more than 300 mostly small to medium-sized soundstages with 1.5 million square feet of space in more than 120 qualified production facilities. 

Major facilities, most of them in New York City, include Broadway Stages (60 stages across three locations), Steiner Studios (21 stages), York Studios, Silvercup Studios, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Netflix’s new six-stage studio in Brooklyn.

Among new facilities that should come online in the coming years are Lionsgate’s studio in Yonkers, currently under construction with 70,000 square feet of studio space, a second Steiner Studios complex in Brooklyn and a studio in the upstate city of Buffalo backed by UK investment fund Great Point Management.

Size matters

The state extends 300 miles north and west from its namesake city, and has one of the most extensive transport infrastructures in the country. New York City is served by John F Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and there are seven other international airports in the state. Flight time to Europe is about seven hours and to Los Angeles about four-and-a-half hours.

First person to contact

Yoni Bokser, acting executive director, NYS Governor’s Office of Motion Picture & Television Development @ nyfilm@esd.ny.gov

Florida

Productions are drawn to the Sunshine State’s iconic locations and range of local subsidies, which go some way to offsetting the lack of statewide production incentive. 

A tropical climate, vibrant Latino culture and locations such as South Beach, the city of Miami and the coral archipelago known as the Keys are among the attractions that keep international producers coming to Florida — even though the so-called Sunshine State currently lacks a statewide production incentive.

The local film and TV production industry took a big hit when the state’s tax credit programme ended in 2016, and regular efforts by the industry, with the help of some lawmakers, to pass new incentive legislation have so far proved unsuccessful. A number of the state’s 67 counties have their own, relatively small, incentive programmes but those provide producers with limited financial help compared to the incentives available in nearby states such as Georgia.

Features that have visited Florida to shoot sequences at distinctive locations include Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which filmed briefly at the Palm Beach Kennel Club greyhound racing track; Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, which had the island of Key West stand in for the Caribbean’s Nevis; Anne Hathaway crime drama The Last Thing He Wanted, which used Florida to mimic several different urban US locations; and Disney’s The One And Only Ivan, which used a shopping mall near Tampa.

Among projects doing more extensive shoots in the state have been A24 and Sony’s Zola, John Leguizamo’s true-story chess drama Critical Thinking, Lionsgate-released Justin Long comedy Lady Of The Manor and Oprah Winfrey Network drama series David Makes Man. 

Producers who have brought projects to the right-to-work state cite Florida’s accessibility through major air hubs in Orlando and Miami, as well as the culture, food and arts scene of the latter, one of the fastest-growing large cities in the US. Florida was hit by a Delta variant Covid-19 surge in late summer 2021, but by early autumn case rates had begun to decline.

 

Infrastructure and crews

The state has about 850 active members of film, TV and theatre workers union IATSE, making for a crew depth of between three and four. Studio facilities in Orlando include Universal Studios Florida, a working production centre as well as a theme park, with six soundstages; Chapman/Leonard Studios, with three stages; and Full Sail University, with one stage and a backlot. Miami has Telemundo Center, the headquarters of NBCUniversal’s Spanish-language TV network; EUE Screen Gems/Viacom International Studios, with two soundstages measuring 15,000 square feet; and Cachita Universal Studios. In Tampa, Diamond View Studios has opened Vu, a facility it bills as one of the world’s largest LED volume screens for virtual production.

Size matters

Situated at the south-east corner of the US, Florida extends about 350 miles from Miami in the south to Jacksonville in the north, and about the same distance from Jacksonville in the east to Pensacola in the west. Freeways connect those cities as well as Tampa, Orlando and St Petersburg, the state’s other major conurbations. Flights from Miami to Los Angeles take about five-and-a-half hours, while Miami to London is about eight-and-a-half hours. Like other southern and eastern US states, Florida can be hit by tropical storms between May and October.

First person to contact

Niki Welge, film commissioner, Film In Florida – The Florida Office of Film & Entertainment 

@ niki.welge@deo.myflorida.com

 

Louisiana

Louisiana recently lured Apple TV+’s Emancipation from Georgia in a big coup for the busy state, which has a long history of hosting major productions. 

One of the first US states to begin luring production away from Hollywood around 20 years ago, Louisiana revamped its incentive programme four years ago, making it less lucrative but more stable for producers. Production levels had been rising in recent years as a result, but the pandemic caused a drop for 2020, when certified spending fell to $429.6m (from 2019’s $538.5m) and credits to $132.8m (from $175.8m). 

Projects shot in Louisiana since the revamped programme took effect include Fox’s Ben Affleck thriller Deep Water, Amazon Studios’ Oscar-nominated One Night In Miami and Orion Pictures’ franchise revival Bill & Ted Face The Music. Among the most recent visiting productions have been Netflix action comedy The Lovebirds, Sony’s Adam Driver sci-fi thriller 65 (aka Zoic), Daisy Edgar-Jones mystery Where The Crawdads Sing and Will Smith/Apple TV+ runaway slave thriller Emancipation, which relocated to Louisiana from Georgia (and had to briefly suspend filming because of positive Covid-19 tests among the crew).

Though several long-running Louisiana-based TV series were cancelled during the pandemic, Ava DuVernay’s drama Queen Sugar still shoots in the state for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, and Disney Channel’s family adventure Secrets Of Sulphur Springs has recently started work.

Infrastructure and crews

Louisiana’s crew base has more than quadrupled in size over the last two decades and now takes in more than 15 crews, according to Louisiana Economic Development. The state is home to more than 1,200 members of film and TV unions including the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA and the Teamsters.

The state’s infrastructure has also grown rapidly and there is now around 700,000 square feet of production space, according to a recent report from real-estate company CBRE. 

With seven soundstages and nearly 150,000 square feet of space, Celtic Media Centre in Baton Rouge claims to be the largest design-built studio in the US. Second Line Stages in New Orleans says it is the first independent studio in the US certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building programme. The Ranch Film Studios recently bought a former Ford assembly plant near New Orleans that will be turned into a production centre. 

Other soundstage and post-production facilities include Starlight Studios and Big Easy Studios in New Orleans, Digital FX and Pixel Magic in Baton Rouge, The Louisiana Wave Studio and StageWorks of Louisiana in Shreveport, Nims Center Studios in Harahan and the St John Center Soundstage in LaPlace.

Size matters

Louisiana extends about 300 miles from New Orleans in the south east to Shreveport in the north west. It sits between Texas and Mississippi along the US’s Gulf of Mexico coast and is bordered to the east by the Mississippi river, whose coastal marshes and swamps make up a large portion of the state’s southern half.

The primary hub for air travel is Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which has direct flights to Los Angeles, New York, London and Toronto, and there are smaller airports in Baton Rouge, Shreveport and Lafayette. Flight times from New Orleans to Los Angeles and New York are four hours and three hours respectively.

Louisiana’s Gulf coast location means productions can sometimes be disrupted by tropical storms or hurricanes in summer and early autumn.

First person to contact

Stephen Hamner, director, film, Louisiana Entertainment stephen.hamner@la.gov 

 

Mississippi

The state offers a cash rebate that makes it attractive to producers. However, as in Georgia, political controversies loom, potentially threatening its appeal to Hollywood. 

Mississippi has built up a modest but steady film and TV production sector over the two decades of the US production incentives era, thanks partly to its historical and photogenic locations and partly to incentives in the form of cash rebates of between 25% and 30%.

Recent projects to have filmed in Mississippi include AGC Studios’ Jake Gyllenhaal-produced thriller Breaking News In Yuba County, with Tate Taylor directing on his home turf; Blumhouse’s Octavia Spencer thriller Ma; and Paul Schrader’s crime drama The Card Counter, an early victim of the pandemic shutdown that was completed when production in the state resumed in July 2020. 

Visiting productions since the state re-opened include action thriller Vanquish, with Mississippi resident Morgan Freeman and Ruby Rose; Muti, another thriller with Freeman; Terrence Howard action film The System; indie features Bastard’s Crossing, Jakob’s Wife and Son; ABC’s civil-rights series Women Of The Movement; and Europe-backed action drama Paradise Highway, with Juliette Binoche and Freeman headlining for Norwegian writer/director Anna Gutto.

Mississippi is among the US states that have recently passed ‘foetal heartbeat’ abortion laws. Although the law is currently blocked and does not appear to have affected production levels, this could change after the US Supreme Court reviews the case in December.

Infrastructure and crews

There are no large studios in Mississippi, but local production companies include TransMedia in Gulfport, 13 South Productions in Lena and commercials specialist The Digital Brigade in Madison. Recently launched Crooked Letter Picture Company has 20,000 square feet of studio space, a prop house, design studio and production offices at its Natchez facility. 

Equipment firms include Davaine Lighting in Jackson and Gonzaflex Productions in Biloxi, while local editing facility Gulf Coast Filmworks is in Long Beach.

Crew depth is between one and two productions, and because Mississippi is a right-to-work state — which means workers cannot be denied employment because of membership or non-membership of a union — productions often use crews that include both types of personnel.

Size matters

This southeastern US state sits between the busy filmmaking centre of Louisiana on one side and Alabama on the other, with the Mississippi river forming its western border and the Gulf of Mexico providing a 50-mile coastline at its southern end. 

Mississippi extends 350 miles from north to south and 170 from east to west and has five distinct geographic regions: the hills, with its variety of pre-Civil War homes and towns; the Delta, which is an agricultural area with a rich musical culture; the Pine Belt, with wilderness and the city of Hattiesburg; the capital/river region, which is located around Jackson; and the coast, with beaches, islands and the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi.

Nine interstate highways link Jackson, Gulfport, Southaven, Hattiesburg and Biloxi. 

Mississippi has two major airports: Jackson-Evers International, with flights to Atlanta and Chicago, and Gulfport-Biloxi International, which serves Atlanta, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth. Flight times to Los Angeles and New York are about six hours and four hours respectively.

Like several states in this part of the US, Mississippi can experience tropical storms or hurricanes during the summer and early autumn.

First person to contact

Nina Parikh, Mississippi Film Office @ nparikh@mississippi.org 

 

New Mexico

Having cleared a payments backlog that temporarily limited the popularity of its longstanding incentives programme, New Mexico saw a resurgence in film and TV production in fiscal 2019, with the number of projects spending $1m or more shooting  in the state increasing to 43 from 38 the previous year and direct spending more than doubling to $525.5m. 

Much of the increase was down to Netflix, which according to the state spent more than $150m locally in the year since it agreed to open its first US production hub in New Mexico. Projects shot in the state for the global streamer so far have included El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Zack Snyder horror film Army Of The Dead, high-school action comedy series Daybreak and drama series Messiah, while visiting productions from other companies have included Focus Features’ drama Half Brothers and Sony’s Tom Hanks western News Of The World, directed by Paul Greengrass. 

Because of the spring shutdown, the number of $1m-plus projects shooting in New Mexico’s fiscal 2020 (which ended June 30) dropped to 27, with a fall in direct spending to $396.8m. But the state re-opened for production, under Covid 19 guidelines, in September and hosted its first big project in Netflix’s Idris Elba western The Harder They Fall. That project, however, reportedly paused shooting temporarily in mid-October, five weeks into its schedule, because of a positive Covid-19 test on a member of the production team.

Infrastructure and crews

Soundstage facilities in major city Albuquerque include Albuquerque Studios, bought at the start of 2019 by Netflix, and NBCUniversal’s new ABQ Studios. Facilities in and around state capital Santa Fe include Santa Fe Studios, Garson Studios and the recently opened Camel Rock Studios, a 75,000 square foot former casino said to be the first studio owned by a Native American tribe. The state has enough crews for about seven major productions and local production companies include Captivate Media, Fantome Films and Indieproduction.

Size matters

New Mexico, the fifth-largest US state, has major airports in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Roswell. Albuquerque and Santa Fe are about an hour’s drive apart and both are under two hours by air from Los Angeles and six from New York.

First person to contact

Amber Dodson, director, New Mexico Film Office 

@ amberl.dodson@state.nm.us

 

Oregon

Oregon’s three-tiered cash rebate incentive programme, its relative proximity to Los Angeles and its range of locations have helped fuel the growth of the north-west state’s production sector over the past few years. The state provided all the locations for Kelly Reichardt’s Sundance and Berlin title First Cow and hosted Netflix feature Sorta Like A Rock Star, Disney+ feature Timmy Failure and Hulu series Shrill

Laika Entertainment turned out best animated feature Oscar nominee Missing Link from its Portland base and the city’s branch of animation studio Shadow­Machine is housing Guillermo del Toro’s reimagining, for Netflix, of Pinocchio

Infrastructure and crews

Oregon has a crew depth of between four and five. Soundstage studios, all in the state’s largest city of Portland, include Picture This Production Services & Stage, Cine Rent West and New Era Studios (formerly Zarr Studios). 

Size matters

Occupying nearly 100,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest region of the US, Oregon encompasses a rugged coastline, dense forests, high deserts, volcanoes, part of the Cascades mountain range and Crater Lake national park. The major cities, strung along a central interstate highway, are Portland and Salem in the north and Eugene further south. Four airports — Portland in the north, Eugene and Bend/Redmond in the centre and Medford in the south — offer multiple direct flights to Los Angeles each day. Flight times are about two-and-a-half hours to Los Angeles and five hours to New York.

First person to call

Tim Williams, executive director, Oregon Film tim@oregonfilm.org 

Hawaii

Hawaii’s 20%-25% credit programme and beach and jungle locations have created a healthy local industry, and in 2019 film and TV production generated an estimated $405m of direct spending in the Pacific island state. That was down from $477m in 2018, a drop attributed in part to a rush of productions shooting in Hawaii before the imposition of a $50m rolling annual cap on the state’s incentive programme (which had effectively been uncapped before) from the beginning of 2019.

Features to have shot recently in Hawaii include Taika Waititi’s comedy Next Goal Wins, about the American Samoa football team, which is based on a UK documentary. 

Magnum P.I., the rebooted CBS crime series just picked up for a third season, continues to be based in Hawaii, while CBS’s rebooted TV crime series Hawaii Five-0 recently ended its 10-year run shooting locally, promising to free up scarce studio space for other productions.

The state has one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 infection in the US and hopes are high it will reopen to international production soon.

Infrastructure and crews

The state-owned Hawaii Film Studio in capital city Honolulu has been occupied for the past decade by TV series Hawaii Five-0 but has become available again after the show’s cancellation. Other, smaller facilities include Hawaii Media and Island Film Group, both also on Oahu, and Pan Pacific Studios, the only soundstage on Maui. Producers and production companies active locally include FX Group, A2 Media and Confair Productions. The workforce is three crews deep and the state has several local chapters of the major film labour unions. 

Size matters

About 2,500 miles off the west coast of the US mainland, Hawaii’s main islands are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui and Hawaii. Honolulu International Airport on Oahu is the major commercial aviation hub, with flight times of five hours to Los Angeles and 10 hours to Australia.

First person to contact

Donne Dawson, state film commissioner, Hawaii Film Office donne.dawson@hawaii.gov 

Montana

The size of Montana’s screen sector is increasing, making the photogenic state better placed than ever to house incoming features and high-end TV productions.  

With its spectacular snow-capped mountain ranges, Great Plains prairie and stark badlands — along with the photogenic Glacier and Yellowstone national parks — Montana has always been a popular location for western films and car commercials.

However, the state has recently been trying to appeal to a wider range of productions with a new tax credit, replacing the incentive that ended in 2014, and moves by local companies to develop more production infrastructure.

The incentive, which came into effect under the Montana Economic Development Industry Advancement (Media) Act in mid-2019 and is set to run through 2029, offers a base 20% transferable income tax credit with add-ons that can boost the level to as much as 35%. The programme has an annual cap of $10m. 

In its most recent legislative session, the state voted to increase the annual cap to $12m from the start of 2022, though some state legislators had been calling for a massive jump to $250m.

Before the pandemic, Montana’s production push had attracted features including Anna Kerrigan’s independent drama Cowboys (a prize winner at Tribeca) and Thandiwe Newton thriller God’s Country. Since production resumed in summer 2020, the state has hosted independent western The Last Son; Ted K, a drama about Unabomber Ted Kaczynski that screened in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlinale; and Sooyii (Creatures), a historical drama shot on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana that was a prizewinner at the UK’s Lonely Wolf film festival. 

The state also saw a boost last year when Kevin Costner’s Paramount Network drama series Yellowstone, previously shot in Utah as well as Montana, moved the production of its fourth season to a specially leased base in Montana’s Missoula Valley.

Infrastructure and crews 

Studio space is limited but growing. Yellowstone Film Ranch, a western town set built in the picturesque Paradise Valley near the city of Bozeman, offers production offices, storage, catering and set building. 

Montana Studios has production, office and storage space at its facility near Missoula. It has also bought a building in Butte that it intends to turn into a production centre. 

Plans to develop a new $20m studio near Missoula appear now to be in doubt, after the annual cap on the state’s incentive increased by a much smaller amount than the local industry had been hoping for. 

The state has around 700 crew members and can staff two feature productions at a time — more when projects use a mix of local and incoming crew, as most do. 

Size matters 

Sharing its longest border with Canada, the northwestern state of Montana extends about 250 miles from north to south and 630 miles from east to west, making it the fourth-largest state in the US (with the third-lowest population density). 

Capital Helena is in the western half of Montana, as are major airports Bozeman Yellowstone International (with flights to Los Angeles, Atlanta and, in the summer, New York) and Missoula International. Billings Logan International Airport serves the state’s central and eastern regions. Flight times are about four hours to Los Angeles and six to New York.

First-person to contact

Allison Whitmer, film commissioner, Montana Film Office 

@ allison.whitmer@mt.gov

Oklahoma

A new financial incentive programme is a major boost for this burgeoning locations hub that has attracted its biggest film to date, Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon.  

Oklahoma’s push to bring more film and TV production — particularly of big-budget features — to the state received a major boost this year when legislators approved a new incentive programme with funding of $30m a year for the next decade.

The new Filmed In Oklahoma programme offers a 20% cash rebate — which can increase to as much as 38% with add-ons — and three-quarters of its annual funding is reserved for projects spending $7.5m or more in the state. 

The state’s existing Film Enhancement programme will keep processing already-qualified applications for the next six years but is no longer accepting new applications. Projects will not be able to use both schemes.

The new scheme should help Oklahoma, which has impressive prairie, mountain and mesa locations but a limited film infrastructure, become more competitive with Canada and other south central and western US production centres.

Projects that have shot in the state over the past couple of years include Oscar winner Minari, Taika Waititi-produced FX comedy TV series Reservation Dogs and Focus Features’ thriller Stillwater starring Matt Damon.

In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, an estimated 33 productions used the state’s incentive programme from mid-2020 to mid-2021, according to the Oklahoma Film + Music Office, compared with 34 during the previous year. 

The state’s biggest production yet, Martin Scorsese’s feature Killers Of The Flower Moon for Apple TV+, began filming in spring 2021 after its start was delayed by more than a year due to the pandemic. The drama — starring Leo­nardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons and based on the real-life murders of Osage Nation citizens in 1920s Oklahoma — is set to receive a 37% rebate under the Film Enhancement programme.

 

Infrastructure and crews 

The local industry has a crew depth of four, though the local commission can also provide a list of expatriate natives currently working elsewhere in the industry whose wages can qualify for the state’s rebate programmes.

Studio space can be hard to come by, but two recently opened facilities have increased the availability of stages and other amenities. Nine miles outside Oklahoma City, Green Pastures Studios has two soundstages, production offices and a backlot. And in the downtown area, Prairie Surf Studios is now the region’s largest facility, with five soundstages on a 1.3 million square feet site. 

Size matters 

This south-central US state has an area of about 70,000 square miles and borders Texas to the south and Kansas to the north. State capital Oklahoma City and Tulsa are the major cities, linked by interstate highways. The major air travel hubs are Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport, with the former offering direct flights to both Los Angeles and New York. Flight time to either US coast is about three-and-a-half hours. 

The state has a mostly temperate climate and 230 days of sunshine a year, but is also in the area known as Tornado Alley; twisters are most likely to occur between late March and August. 

First person to contact

Tava Maloy Sofsky, director, Oklahoma Film + Music Office

@ tava.sofsky@travelok.com

 

Arizona

Independent producers are beginning to follow commercials makers to this eye-catching state, which offers a diverse range of locations from the Grand Canyon to urban cities. 

The southwestern state of Arizona claims its scenic diversity — which takes in red rock canyons, desert landscapes, alpine forests, lakes, rivers and busy urban cities — allows it to double for any US state. 

However, what Arizona has not offered since 2010, when its transferable tax credit ended, is a film and TV production incentive, although producers can make use of the Reel Savings discount and rebate programme.

Arizona locations are used most often for commercials, which shoot in the balmy winter months in time for spring and summer product launches, music videos (including Beyonce’s clip for The Lion King song ‘Spirit’) and reality TV shows. Feature films shooting recently in the state have mostly been smaller independent productions, such as US western She Was The Deputy’s Wife, sci-fi thriller The Unhealer and comedy The Bellmen. Swiss drama My Little One shot on the state’s Navajo Indian Reservation a few years ago and Wes Studi western drama Nothing, Arizona is set to film soon.

Arizona is one of around 25 ‘right-to-work’ US states, meaning that workers cannot be compelled to join a union or have employment withheld because they are or are not union members. As a result, the state welcomes both union and non-union film and digital media productions. 

And the state’s industry trade organisations, which include the Arizona Film & Media Coalition, the Arizona Production Association and Independent Film Arizona, continue to push for financial lures for incoming productions. On that front, officials in Tuscon, Arizona’s second largest city, recently earmarked $500,000 for a planned local film and TV incentive.

Infrastructure and crews

Arizona’s soundstage facilities, which all participate in the programme, include Reel Men Rentals, which is also the state’s largest equipment rental company, in Phoenix; Modern Studios, with two studios and a colour correction suite, in Tucson; Sun Studios, which has two soundstages and an audio recording studio, in Tempe; and Sneaky Big Studios in Scottsdale has two soundstages and other facilities. 

In Benson, about 50 miles from Tucson, is Gammons Gulch, an old western town set with a main street, hotel, saloon, jail house and mining camp. The set has been used in productions including The Gundown starring Peter Coyote. 

Arizona production services companies include Blare Films, Navajo Nation TV & Film and Vu West Productions, and among the state’s film schools are Arizona State University, Huntington University, Pima Community College and the University of Advancing Technology. The state’s film and TV workforce is around three crews deep.

Size matters 

Sometimes called the Grand Canyon state after its best-known natural feature, Arizona extends 300 miles from east to west and 400 from north — with Grand Canyon national park and parts of Monument Valley — to south, where the major cities of Phoenix and Tucson are found. Sandwiched between California and New Mexico, the state also shares a long border with Mexico and has a desert climate, with mild winters and very hot summers. 

Interstate highways criss-cross Arizona and the main air hubs are Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, with direct flights to Los Angeles, New York, London, Toronto and Vancouver, and Tucson International Airport, with flights to Los Angeles and Atlanta. Flight times are about 90 minutes to Los Angeles, six hours to New York and 10 hours to London. 

First person to contact 

Matthew Earl Jones, director, Arizona Office of Film & Digital Media @ matthewj@azcommerce.com

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