California

Independent

Eligible Production Types

  • Feature Films
  • Scripted Television
  • Reality Television
  • Documentaries
  • Animation
  • Video Games
  • Webisodes
  • Talk Shows
  • Game Shows
  • Live Events
  • Commercials

Location Production Needs

  • Rural
  • Suburban
  • Snow
  • Tropical
  • Beaches/Ocean
  • Mountains
  • Lakes/Rivers
  • Deserts
  • Forests
  • City

Administrative Guidance

Tax Credit Program 3.0 Guidelines

California Film Commission

Colleen Bell, Executive Director

323.860.2960

filmca@film.ca.gov

www.film.ca.gov

Incentive

25% Transferable Tax Credit

Project Criteria

25%

25%

$1M

$10M of qualified spend

Qualified Spend

Independent Film applicants are eligible to receive 25% of qualified expenditures and shall be applied to a maximum of $10M of the qualified expenditure budget.Qualified expenditures include preproduction, production, and postproduction expenditures purchased and/or rented and used in the state of California.

Qualified production expenditures do not include development, marketing, publicity, or distribution costs.

The Qualified Expenditure Charts and Budget Tagging and Tracking Tips are helpful guides for determining which expenditures qualify in the calculation for credits

All applicants are eligible to receive “uplifts,” an additional 5% or 10% tax credit if spending occurs in any or all of the three categories listed.

  1. 5% Visual Effects
    • Television projects (except relocating TV series) and feature films are eligible to receive an additional 5% tax credit for visual effects. 
    • VFX expenditures in-state must equal at least $10million or 75% of total worldwide VFX costs.
    • Please refer to the qualified expenditure chart (QEC) to determine which VFX expenditures qualify for the uplift, and suggested tagging methodology.
    • New Program 3.0 Requirement: VFX vendor costs may be tagged 70% labor and 30% non-labor. 
  2. 5% Out of Zone (OZ) Expenditures
    • Television projects (except relocating TV series) and feature films are eligible to receive an additional 5% for filming outside the “Los Angeles Zone.” 
    • Qualified wage and non-wage expenditures outside the LA zone are eligible for a 5% uplift – for both principal photography and “second unit” – solely during the “applicable period.” 
    • Non-wage expenditures for items purchased and/or rented outside the Los Angeles zone and totally consumed outside the LA zone will be allowed 100% of the items’ cost, as substantiated by proper documentation.
    • Estimates for totally consumed items may be included in the estimated OZ qualified calculations in the application. The Budget Tagging and Tracking Tips contains a list of consumable items.
    • Non-consumable expenditures that are purchased and/or rented outside the LA zone and are used both outside and inside the LA zone are eligible for an uplift if they fall under a qualified non-wage category. Expenditures are calculated in the online application portal based on the percentage of the OZ principal photography days in relation to the total principal photography days in California.
    • The QECBudget Tagging and Tracking Tips, and the Tagging Out of Zone Expenditures video tutorial offer specific tagging methodology and explain how to track expenditures outside the Los Angeles zone.
  3. “Local Hire Labor” (New to Program 3.0)
    • 10% Uplift: Non-independent productions (feature films, new TV series, recurring TV series, pilots, or miniseries) are eligible to receive an additional 10% tax credit for qualified local hire labor.
    • 5% Uplift: Independent films and relocating TV series are eligible to receive an additional 5% tax credit for qualified local hire labor.
    • Documentation is required (CA driver’s license, recent utility bill) to substantiate where local labor is domiciled and should be requested by production accountants at the time of hire and provided to the CPA performing the audit.
Program Guidelines

$330M

July 1, 2025

Yes

Yes

Additional Considerations

No

Independent production: Minimum production of $1M produced by company that is not publicly traded and that publicly traded companies do not own more than 25% of producing company.

Principal photography in California must commence no later than 180 days after the Credit Allocation Letter is issued.

Applications are ranked within categories (TV project vs. other TV projects, indie project vs. other indie projects, etc.) based upon their "jobs ratio" score. 

$26.4M (8% of annual budget) will be allocated for independent projects each fiscal year.

  • 4.8% Independent films with qualified expenditures of $10M or less.
  • 3.2% Independent films with qualified expenditures greater than $10M