Filming in California

Coronavirus Update: California resumed production during the summer months. There are California Safety Guidelines, as well as a guide prepared by unions and guilds. On November 25, California introduced a temporary Limited Stay at Home Order, but productions are encouraged to stay within the hours of 5AM and 10PM. 

California’s tax credit programme has successfully curbed runaway production. The annual fund of USD330 million are available for non-independent and independent films, TV pilots, MOW, Miniseries, new, recurring and relocating series.

The 25% credit for relocating TV series has seen multiple TV Series flock to The Golden State, Penny Dreadful, previously shot in Ireland, The Right Stuff from Florida, and Hunter and You, which both which travelled from New York.

Big budget features are able to apply for a 20% tax credit, with Netflix’s Gray Man becoming the latest win for the programme. Non-independent TV series and features can access a 5% uplift for VFX work in state, music scoring/recording, filming outside LA’s 30-mile studio zone and hiring local hires when working out the zone. The scheme has seen many shoots venture outside the LA studio zone, including Little America, Dog, Hunters and The Right Stuff.

Many other regions offer additional incentives, including San Francisco, with its “Scene in San Francisco” rebate programme of up to USD600,000. The city is a popular destination, having hosted Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and Sense8 both filmed here. Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, also offers fee waivers, easily-accessible movie ranches and stage facilities. Santa Barbara also offers local incentives.

Los Angeles itself is a thriving hub of production activity, and remains a top choice for scripted televisions shows including Euphoria, Westworld, Why Women Kill and Animal Kingdom. Large budgeted features are taking advantage of the diversity of locations, deep crew base and unmatched infrastructure as evidenced by Island Plaza, and Palm Springs.

The Los Angeles production zone is home to all of the world’s major film studios and more than 500 professional production facilities, along with hundreds of post-production and VFX facilities. World-class infrastructure is also expanding to other parts of the state, such as the recently-launched Film Mare Island production campus in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Regional Film Office Partnership connects the nearly sixty film offices that provide support and assistance with location searches, permitting an other services. California locations have doubled for just about every part of the world (and even the galaxy). Its coastlines, deserts, mountains, forests, urban centers and farmland provide an unlimited range of settings. The Sacramento Delta doubles for Asia or the American South, Mammoth Mountain stands in for the Himalayas, Antelope Valley Fairgrounds for West Texas, Mendocino County for the East Coast and Ridgecrest for the terrain of other planets.

The locations choices for the tsunami scenes were mainly to capture the best and most iconic San Francisco views we could find. Many of them were from along the shoreline of San Francisco or from higher vantage points that looked back.

Jonathan Shedd, Location Manager on San Andreas

Climate

Much of California is warm and dry all year round, with low humidity. Offshore breezes tend to keep coastal cities like Los Angeles and San Diego cooler than inland areas.

Inland parts of the state have a warmer, Mediterranean climate, while the Mojave Desert is hot and arid and can reach temperatures of 49C. Northern parts of the state tend to get more rainfall
– as much as 50 inches some years – as the higher land and mountains have a more temperate climate.

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