Two camera operators film for a local reality show. Dan Watson/Signal
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Recording another strong year, television and film location filming pumped $33 million into the Santa Clarita economy last year, the city’s film office reported.

This is the fourth year in a row the estimated economic impact generated from location filming has topped $30 million.

“The work of the film office is a small part of what makes Santa Clarita an attractive place for productions,” said Evan Thomason, economic development associate with the city. “We’re in the 30-mile-zone, we benefit from the California Film Incentive Program, and we offer a wide variety of locations that can double for almost anywhere in the world.”

“In addition, Santa Clarita has more than 20 sound stages, more than 10 movie ranches, and some of the lowest film-permit fees in the Los Angeles area,” he said.

It’s the third year in a row the city’s film office has recorded more than 500 permits and more than 1,300 film days. In 2016, the Film Office recorded 548 film permits and 1,366 film days.

Due to the need for city permits, location filming is the most easily tracked piece of local film and TV production, but doesn’t reflect the full economic impact of the entertainment sector.

The reported numbers don’t include filming on certified sound stages run by local studios, which don’t require permits.

Given the competitive nature of the business, studios tend to be tight-lipped about the finances of production deals.

TV production accounted for more than half of local location filming days for 2016. This included locally-based shows including “Atypical,” “Blunt Talk,” “Good Girls Revolt,” “The Guest Book,” “Man vs. Master,” “Mistresses,” “NCIS,” “Santa Clarita Diet,” “Shooter,” “Stitchers,” “Switched at Birth,” “Ultimate Beastmaster,” and “Westworld.”

“Santa Clarita Diet,” starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant, is both filmed and set in Santa Clarita, though it’s not yet clear how much the setting will factor into the show or how the city will be portrayed. The dark comedy features Barrymore as a suburban real estate agent who dies and comes back with a taste for human flesh. The first season will be available for viewing on Netflix starting Feb. 3.

“Ballers,” Dwayne Johnson’s HBO series now taping in Santa Clarita, shows the impact of state incentives. After two years of production in Miami, the show, about the post-playing career of a former NFL star, moved to Southern California when Florida ended its film incentive program.

Ballers is the seventh TV series to relocate to California via the expanded tax credit program that went into effect in 2015, according to a statement from the California Film Commission. The show, which received an $8.3 million tax credit, is shooting 10 episodes in California, where it will employ 135 cast, 209 base crew and 5,700 extras.

Among movies shot in Santa Clarita in 2016 is “A Wrinkle in Time,” directed by Ava DuVernay. Currently filming around town, it stars Resse Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Zack Galifianakis and Oprah Winfrey.

The Disney production is receiving $18 million in state incentives, making it the largest single beneficiary of the state incentive program, according to the California Film Commission. The program was revised this year to allow movies with budgets over $75 million to qualify for tax breaks.

Any production that qualifies for state incentives, or has pulled more than four permits for location shooting, automatically qualifies for city incentives. These include waiver of various city fees.

“The film office works hard to be a one-stop shop for productions,” Thomason said.

“We coordinate with the L.A. County Fire and Sheriff’s departments and with all city departments to make the process as easy as possible.”

 

 

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Patrick Mullen
Patrick Mullen grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., and moved to Santa Clarita from Cleveland in 2016. He covered the business side of health care for 15 years.
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