The Importance of Film Tax Incentives Today

Tax incentives are a key component to independent film budgets nowadays, and are practically vital to the financial safety of a production given the current market saturation of content—and the therefore markedly lower purchase prices as of late. Film and television tax incentives are a method by which governments attract productions to come to their state or country, thereby boosting the local economy; productions hire local crew, and purchase and rent local goods from secondary institutions such as restaurants, car dealerships, and generator rental companies. Depending on the “flavor” of tax incentive offered—such as transferable tax credits—completely unrelated companies can benefit by purchasing these credits at cents on the dollar, and reduce their tax obligations. All that said, not all tax incentives are created equal.

First of all, while we love California, we have a difficult time recommending it for independent filmmaking. In 2014, S&R Films’ own Gato Scatena consulted for California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian in regards to proposed modifications to the state’s film tax incentive legislation. To Scatena, it was obvious that the language in the active statutes were the direct result of meetings with only the largest studios and production companies, and were therefore not designed with independents in mind. One such feature of the California tax incentive that makes it difficult for independent filmmakers is the fact that the law requires movie productions to have a minimum qualified spend of $1 Million. To make matters worse, no above-the-line talent and crew expenses are “qualified,” resulting in a realistic total minimum budget of somewhere around $1.3 Million. And much to the Assemblyman’s surprise, during the course of these meetings he discovered that while over 70% of movies produced and sold each year are independently financed, the majority of those films have total budgets under $1 Million (take for instance S&R Films’ Lifetime movie, Imaginary Friend, shot for under $1 Million). To prove the point that California’s incentives are inadequate to keep jobs from being deported to other states and countries, Scatena noted that the entire roster of films acquired that year by Grindstone (a Lionsgate distribution company) were shot outside of California! Among other things, the modifications recommended by Mr. Scatena included the removal of the lottery approval process, and inclusion of a percentage of above-the-line costs as qualified expenses. Assemblyman Nazarian did everything he could, but at the end of the day, it was more popular to voters to simply increase the annual spend—another signal that the lay person simply does not understand the intricacies of film finance and production. So, while we wait and hope for California to catch up with the competitive states and countries, let’s explore some better options.

Mississippi and Louisiana make shooting movies in Dixie fun and profitable! In 2002, Louisiana was the first to realize the local economic benefits of offering film tax incentives (in the form of credits), and was so aggressive in their laws that they had productions running year-round, and hoards of life-long California film crew permanently moved their residences to the Pelican State. On average, shooting in Louisiana allows producers to count on about 20-25% of their budget coming back to them in the form of tax credits [that they could then sell back to the state at 85% face value, or better-yet, sell to a highly-taxed local company for closer to 90-95% face value]. The more diligent filmmakers can eek out closer to 25-30% in tax credits. The state became so dependable in regards to delivering on their promised tax credits, that many films started to partially finance their productions by having companies or individuals “cashflow” the projected tax incentives prior to filming, and with a built-in return to the lender. That said, Louisiana did recently drop the ball on paying out their credits on time, and from July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016, the state was refusing to buy their credits back at the aforementioned 85% face value. This caused some problems with banks and lenders, so to a certain extent, the state is now rebuilding its trustworthiness with financiers. Regardless, Louisiana is a tax incentive powerhouse, and a beautiful location at that. On another note, when Louisiana was going through their brief lapse in judgment, their neighbor to the east was rolling out an ingenious tax incentive plan of their own!

What’s better than a tax credit?! According to Mississippi, cash is better than a tax credit! The state’s tax incentives come in the form of a cash rebate after the Mississippi Department of Revenue audits the production. Most of the incentive program’s features are comparable or identical to those found in Louisiana. The program only requires a $50,000 in-state spend, and while productions can receive a 30% rebate on local hires, you’ll still earn 25% on out-of-state hires… that includes all of the highly trained crew now located right next door in Louisiana. The tax rebate program in Mississippi is certainly younger than several other states, but with crew and facility shortages in Louisiana and Georgia (due to high number of productions), Mississippi is already attracting a good number of filmmakers in the know.

Some of the other dependable tax incentivized territories for independent filmmakers in the United States include Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico.

Over the past couple decades, producing feature length films has become a much more accessible endeavor, and as such, there’s a lot more content being produced than distributors need. The result is a classic supply & demand boolean equation: is there more supply than demand? Yes. Therefore, the value of the supply has gone down. The droves of first, second, and even third-time filmmakers financing their productions with friends, family, and debt are already placing their speculatively produced projects in a tough marketplace, so why on Earth would you leave money on the table? If you’re in development or pre-production on a movie right now, don’t move forward without at least considering all of your tax incentive options—it could very well be the difference between profit and loss.

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Dubbing vs. Subtitling: The Pros and Cons

We’ve all seen (and affectionately mocked) those badly dubbed martial arts films. You know the ones; incredible stunts, brilliantly elaborate plot lines and sharp dialogue… all dubbed over by American voice actors. Yet, for some people, the charm of these films lies in the out of sync dubbing and cringe-worthy voiceovers. It’s all part of the experience of watching a foreign film.

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People Power

Subtitles or dubbing? It’s one of the most divisive arguments in film history. In 2010, the British Film Council sought to settle the score once and for all with a study to determine audience preferences. The BFC polled audience members of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the original, Swedish version) and the results were rather enlightening. As well as learning more about audience’s preferences in general, the study also revealed how format affects overall enjoyment. It seems that those who watched the subtitled film enjoyed it more with 45% of viewers rating it ‘excellent’ compared to just 26% for the dubbed version.

Superior Subtitles

The skill of the voice actor can make or break a dubbed film. When recording in an empty studio, the voice actor doesn’t have the same emotional connection to the story and characters. This can result in dry delivery which just doesn’t do justice to the original script. In addition, character traits like sense of humour, vulnerability or little quirks and tics are lost in translation when the original dialogue is dubbed over.

Then of course comes the issue of syncing dubbed dialogue with the movement of the actor’s mouth. The variable nature of language means a short phrase in French could be two long sentences in English. Poorly synced dubbing is funny and charming in its own way, but essentially distracts from the film (which we are sure was not the director’s intention!).

Subtitles allow the film to be enjoyed in all its glory. The audience can hear the actor’s voices and feel the emotion of each scene all while getting an accurate but concise translation of the dialogue. Of course, subtitles aren’t without fault. They can be difficult to follow, confusing or simply too concise, and yet in many ways they remain superior to dubbing.

The End

When translating a film for an entirely new audience the most important decision is format. Do you dub or sub? During the course of this article we’ve fought the case for subtitles but this doesn’t necessarily make them the best option for you.

There are many variables to consider, such as audience, genre and visuals. For example, if the film is for young children, subtitles may be unpractical due to reading ability and attention span. On the other hand, slow-paced productions, like Nordic TV show The Killing, benefit from the languorous nature of subtitles.

Translating is a complex art and doing justice to the original work can feel like Mission Impossible. The most important thing is to think about your audience and choose the format that works for you both. Whether you dub or sub, make sure your production is An Affair to Remember.

Why Dish Cable TV May be Your Best Choice

Cable television has been around since the late 1950’s and, for many years, it did not have any real competition when it came to premium television service. A home that was lucky enough to be in an area that had cable had access to the best programming that the cable service had to offer. If the cable company decided to raise its rates without adding programming, then there was little that the consumers could do. Then Dish cable TV service came along and changed all of that.

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One of the original inspirations for a satellite television service was to reach markets that cable could simply not reach. Farm communities and rural towns that were miles from major metropolitan areas went without premium television programming for decades because the cable companies did not deem those communities worth the financial investment required to run the wiring out to their areas. Satellite came along and solved the problem for those communities and gave them Dish cable TV.

As a service to those rural communities, the satellite companies became quite good at offering comprehensive pay per view services for movies, sports events and other special occasions. The amount of pay per view offered by satellite was significant because the people in rural communities often did not have a movie theater to visit or, if they did have a theater in town, that theater would not get first-run movies until months after the movies had been released.

Satellite service solved that problem by developing a large selection of pay per view channels that eclipsed anything cable television offered. It did not take the satellite companies long to figure out that the expanded pay per view services offered by Dish cable TV may be something that people in major metropolitan areas may also want. When the satellite providers started offering their services to people in the suburbs and cities, they found a ready and willing audience.

Satellite television service was created and developed to cater to the needs of the customer. Where cable television tells its subscribers what they programming they will be getting, satellite TV made its reputation by responding to the needs of its customers and providing the kinds of services that people actually want. Any consumer who is looking for a premium television option that offers the kinds of services that he may actually want should take a long look at satellite television and see what it has to offer.

Canadian Film Tax Incentives – Still In The Game

As mentioned in The Importance of Film Tax Incentives Today, tax incentives are a key component to independent film budgets. This is a fact for all filmmakers. For those of us in the USA, we have the ability to rely on several state governments to secure portions of our films’ budgets. But we don’t have a monopoly on the idea, and our friendly neighbors above us bring competitive incentives. With nearly 100 productions currently shooting [at the time I write this] throughout Toronto and Vancouver, more and more production companies are looking north for their locations and services.

Canada offers one of the best tax incentives in North America by not only providing a great tax percentage, but factoring in the currency exchange rate allows both large and small productions to shoot for a reasonable price. Canada’s dollar usually steeps below $0.80 USD, allowing the hard earned American dollar to actually save you money in Canada. Most production companies utilize the weak Canadian dollar to increase the amount they can spend on their shoots. And depending on the province of choice (usually Ontario, B.C., or Quebec) and project requirements, you could qualify up to 40% tax incentives to cover your budget. Between Vancouver and Toronto, they have been known to be stand-ins for iconic cities like New York and Chicago. Although used for location services, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver also have professional sound stages, VFX studios, and other post-production houses you could take advantage of. The best part: Canada will give you an extra tax percentage for each and every one of those items!

In late 2015 to early 2016, British Columbia noticed that it was receiving an exponential amount of business from out-of-state productions that they couldn’t handle, causing a fluctuation in the provinces annual budget. In B.C., the Finance Minister publicly stated that they are “not prepared to see payouts grow at the rate they have. We have a balanced budget, but we have other priority areas that we feel we need to address on behalf of British Columbians.” With these statements, the Minister was contemplating placing a cap on B.C.’s tax incentive. While this does not seem like a major problem on its face, this is concerning because much of the regions success in attracting large quantities of film productions has been predicated on the no-cap policy. Further, one province adopting such a startling policy shift could have been enough to encourage other provinces and states to follow suit; such a shift could easily cripple the northern filmmaker community.

Since the discussions were released back in February, an industry-government group of representatives from film and television reconstructed the tax credit to benefit both the film industry and the people of the province. Starting Oct 1, 2016, “the basic production services tax credit rate will be set at 28%, down from 33%, and the digital animation or visual effects (DAVE) tax credit rate will be set at 16%, down from 17.5%.”– (news.gov.bc.ca). In other words, despite a slight decrease in credit rates, the province will continue to attract the filmmaking industry by standing by their no-cap policy. And of course, the low Canadian dollar is still an attractive added benefit that state-side territories cannot offer. At least for the time being, the no-cap policy paired with a favorable exchange rate should keep Canada at the top of you location list.

Feeling Luck Punks? Hollywood’s Hard Men

Whether it is playing or a ’goodie’ or baddie’ audiences seem to love a hard man. The alpha male who struts through a city righting injustices or crushing anyone who stands in their way. What is it about these men that makes them tough and why do audiences keep buying their tickets for a cinema experience of scowling looks and knuckles to cheek connections? Some actors have made playing the tough guy a career choice and honed it down to a fine art. Here is a look at some of Hollywood’s finest brooding muscle.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Th Austrian turned American had such an intimidating presence he was cast as the most diabolical robot killer. Dressed in leather and usually hauling an oversized gun for his requirements Schwarzenegger scared the world with his Terminator films and his ability to play a lifeless being was scary in its accuracy. After a short stint in politics he has returned in many more film showing off his hard man nature often playing on his age and maturity. In life Arnie has a reputation for all things big whether it is muscle or his cars, often seen driving around California in his Humvee. Arnie very much likes these imposing aspects of his life and it only helps to perpetuate his persona as Hollywood’s most eminent hard man.

Clint Eastwood

The Northern Californian native has one of the most famous lines of any hard man in his Dirty Harry films. “Do you feel lucky punk?” is enough to scare an audience at the same time they squirm over how cool it simply was. Eastwood could even play a hard man even when he didn’t speak like his blonde character in the spaghetti westerns. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a masterpiece in silent intimidation. More recently age has not even been able to stop him being ‘hard’ as he puts an Asian gang to shame in Gran Torino playing a dying veteran. This guy has some serious credentials.

Sylvester Stallone

When you think of the type of characters that attract the alpha male, you might think loner, military or sportsman. Well Sylvester Stallone has done it all, and more impressively for many of those characters, he wrote them! Stallone has a gift for impactful words as well as impactful violence. His Rocky films are littered with famous quotes. As Rambo Stallone was iconic in the action scene becoming one of the most famous action franchises of all time. His characters like to offload lots of bullets but let’s not forget the quiet intimidation of silent Rambo in First Blood. Stallone is arguably the king of action and is the first in mind when one thinks of the American ideal of a hard man.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt may think of himself as a serious actor but for many of us he is the fighting traveller in Snatch, Ed Norton’s menace in fight club and Nazi destroyer of Inglorious Basterds. Pitt is a Hollywood hunk first and foremost but that does not mean he can play the tough guy too, with the right make up. Oh and let’s not forget his fighting skill were what attracted Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith. Although I hear it is not going so well at the time of writing.

The art of charcoal pencil drawing

The bustling night market in downtown Chiang Mai ranks amongst Thailand’s star attractions drawing huge crowds of holidaymakers year-round.

The Night Bazaar enjoys an ideal location within walking distance of luxury hotels, beautiful temples, budget accommodation, nightlife, shops and numerous restaurants.

The market has an outdoor section as well as a covered area. Outside visitors will find countless stands with vendors selling a wide range of goods including sunglasses, watches, t-shirts, computer games, DVDs, fragrances, bags, suitcases, jewellery, wallets and sportswear.

Additionally, Thailand’s most popular shopping place also houses some of Asia’s finest charcoal pencil artists. The covered section is home to many portrait art galleries where you can observe skilful portraitists transforming photographs into brilliant black and white charcoal portrait sketches. Dogs, celebrities, rock stars, children and relatives are just some of the customers’ favoured objects.

Few tourists exploring Chiang Mai, which is often called “Rose of the North”, will not leave this historical provincial capital without having purchased a lifelike, personalized charcoal pencil portrait.

Those unfortunate visitors having forgotten to buy such an everlasting artwork still have the option ordering commissioned pencil drawings online at very affordable rates.

Those interested buying quality custom portrait art online should e-mail their most special photo to one of the long-established, professional and reliable drawing services.

It is recommended to commission your charcoal portrait sketch through e-mail instead of using an impersonal online order system. Make also sure to first check out some of the supplier’s recent work and if the prices are reasonable. The better portrait art ateliers will offer safe online payments through PayPal.

In general, completing charcoal artworks will take less than 10 working days. Most customers won’t see the difference between their photograph and the completed charcoal pencil sketch!

Benefits Of Using Online Photo Printing

Taking photographs and keeping them as memories is a long-time practice over the years. There are various means of keeping these photos nowadays and these methods are not just confined on the traditional photo albums and frames. Digital photo printing has paved the way to a lot of possibilities apart from these traditional means that still exist today.

Furthermore, the availability of the internet as a convenient venue for transforming your photographs into works of art is a great addition to the modern way of printing photos. You will find numerous online photo printing services that offer a myriad of options to cater every person’s needs.

Going for a printing service is not difficult, even if you’re a newbie. A lot of these online shops and sites have simple, user-friendly interfaces or dashboards for their customers to use by themselves. Uploading your digital photo images is simple and easy to do, and you just have to follow the instructions on a step-by-step manner. (Check pictureXXL website for more digital photo printing.)

Saving a few bucks is also one of the benefits you can get from online photo printing. If you have hundreds of photos to print, you don’t have to think of price per piece anymore because there are shops that offer bulk pricing or discounts for a certain quantity. You may also come across a ‘sale’ or an exclusive discount for members of the online shop.

Printing packages are also the fad these days because this gives the online shop the chance to offer their ‘slow sellers’ together with their ‘hot offers’. You will find a myriad of promos when it comes to photo printing online, so it’s best to check them out and see if they can satisfy your preferences.

Probably the best thing about using online photo printing services is the fast turn-around. Thanks to technology, the process of printing images is faster than the processes of yesteryears. Even if you choose a huge canvas print for your hallway at home, you won’t need weeks for it to finish. Larger prints may take a few days, but, the entire process is quick and efficient as it is done online. (More about photo printing at pictureXXL website.)

For those who have computer printers at home, there are ink cartridges especially made for printing photographs. You may have thought of printing at home before, but may not get the right results if do you do this. First off, the ink can be very pricey. And if you’re not planning to use the printer every day, it will be such a waste of money to leave it unused. What’s more, the ink will dry up if you will not use it often.

Lastly, many of those who love DIY will surely enjoy printing their own photos, albums, invitations, and artwork. You can all do it by yourself at the comfort of your home or office. Just think about the many ways you can print your favorite shots and images, minus the expensive fees and materials.

Printing has gone from the dark room and on the web. This is best way to go if you are tired of fewer options and long waiting times.

Experience A Newcomer Will Have Inside the Recording Studio.

Recording studios are the perfect place if you need to record an album or lay down a track for any CD. Performing for friends in your own home is very different than singing in a professional recording studio. There are some things to know before you go in the studio. Any skilled recording artist understands how to give their very best performance inside the studio.

One of the things you should have is a really good ear. You need to focus on your pitch and sound inside the studio because it will sound a lot different to you than when you sing to yourself in the car or in the shower. You use different mics and headsets that will allow you to hear yourself in an entirely different way. Recording in a studio might take some getting used to unless your familiar with the process. Ensure the producer or engineer you are working with is patient so you can get the proper vocals and pitch down for the demo. Being too close to the microphone will effect the sound you hear. Backing up from the microphone a bit could help when your perhaps hearing your ‘p’s” popping as well as your “s’s” hissing.

You should act professional and courteous when you go to recording studios. Be prepared to go and make sure you show on time. In case someone would want to hear your music, be sure to carry a CD of your respective music around with you. You never know who could be hanging out in a recording studio and if you’ve got something they are able to take with them, that’s always a good thing. If you are a beginner to the business, don’t concern yourself with being inexperienced. While in the studio your producer and engineer will be able to assist you to feel comfortable.

Take a look at several recording studios before selecting where to record. The studio who’s got great sound quality and recording done in a professional manner will need to be found. Ask what kinds of sound and recording equipment they use and ask to listen to some recent recordings. High quality and clear sound should be found on the recording itself. If it sounds like they recorded in a closet, you might want to locate somewhere else to record your demo.

Ask other artists you know or network with musicians when looking for a recording studio for your own benefit, where they had theirs done. You can always ask to hear their personal demo CD. You might like to compare it with professional, top quality CDs. If you like what you hear, you might want to give that particular recording studio a call. Delivering a high quality product along with reasonable pricing are very important factors to consider. The better your CD sounds, the more inclined agents and talent scouts will be to listen to it.

Making your demo in a recording studio can make all the difference in how you sound. If you are seriously interested in becoming a vocalist or music performer, check out some recording studios that can help you make a great demo.

Photographs that displays emotions not just poses!

Besides knowing the technical details of the camera, photographers today need to understand the various emotions they try to capture that bring the picture to life. Nowadays, newly weds do not like pictures that are mere poses. They prefer pictures that display the love, joy and happiness that they both are feeling. And to click pictures such as the aforementioned, the photographer needs to have passion and understanding of human emotions that can be displayed through various moves.

Lilo photo design is one such place where you can land up while surfing romantic wedding pictures on the internet. Lilo is an award winner photographer and is also a Nationally Accredited Professional Photographer. If you are looking for a photographers in Victoria BC, then it is worthy to note that you check Lilo photo design and then take your final decision. Lilo works with passion and closely understands the chemistry between the two newly weds. He capture moments that somehow tells a story and displays a journey of their bonding.

Wedding photography is cherished through out one’s life, therefore it is imperative that you choose a photographer in which you have full faith and have seen and evaluated his work. It is highly advisable that when the time comes to choose your wedding photographer, you should do some research on your part and see various photographers’ work to understand the style of photography of each photographer. To make your process easy, if you are looking for a wedding photographers in Victoria BC, then Lilo Photo Design could be in your final selection. Lilo has clicked many newly weds and understand the emotions close to his heart. Not only wedding, Lilo is also an expert in corporate commercials and portraits. Understanding the landscape is one of his core strengths. His portraits capture moments that are priceless. Weather it a new baby or a newly wed, Lilo does his job just perfectly. The pictures leave you speechless and full of emotions. The color and tone of the picture help to showcase a journey.

When one grows old and looks back at his/her life, wedding comes up as one of the big landmarks of life. Make sure when you look at your wedding photo album down the years, it still manages to bring a twinkle in the eye. Lilo photo design promises to deliver just that.

Backing Tracks For Musicians

If you have played in a band or with other musicians you will know that there is no better buzz than when you play a song as a group and it just comes together and sounds just as good as the original.

However, most singers and musicians will tell you that this comes at a price, as to be able to experience this musical high, you have to find musicians to make up your band, which is far easier said than done, when you take into account that ideally you have to live reasonably close to each other, like the same music, be at a similar skill level, and of course be able to get on together.

Sounds easy enough, but if you live in a remote area, where there is not an abundance of musicians, this can become a mammoth task which will often lead to frustration and disappointment.

If you can’t find musicians in your area and still want the sound and feel of playing with other musicians you could consider using a backing track as there are many to be found on the internet nowadays.
There are literally thousands of jam tracks as they are known that are basically chord progressions of music repeated over and over so that you can practice improvising your guitar solo’s too.

Whilst these are great practice aids to help with your improvisation skills, when learning a new song it can be very beneficial to practice playing along to a backing track of that song before you meet up with the band for live rehearsals, or to just play along to if you are not in a band.

A great form of backing track to play along to is one which includes vocals, as many available online do not give this option and you find yourself having to sing along in your head so that you don’t loose your place in the song, not so good if you can’t sing and want to truly focus on your playing.

Try using a backing track that contains vocals and see how much easier it is to just concentrate on your playing, which will help you to develop your technique and sense of timing, and is much more fun.

Also there are now recordings in a multitrack format which are basically the studio masters of a song and are much like a backing track, but much more versatile as they include every instrument and vocal of the song and can be played in any music editing software, which also then gives you complete control over every element of the song.

For example, if you wanted to learn a particular guitar part, you could simply mute all of the other instruments in the song to isolate the guitar part that you want to learn and then use your music editors functions to slow the guitar track down, or loop a section of it so that it repeats over and over so that you can hear exactly what notes are being played by the guitar.

This particular type of backing track has become very popular with music teachers as the multitracks are so versatile and are ideal for helping to teach guitar, bass, or drums, as you can isolate any instrument and any part of a song enabling you to get a better understanding of how it is played.

If you enjoy playing guitar, bass, or drums, it is certainly worth checking out backing tracks, or a multitrack that gives you the option to have vocals included in the song as it makes the whole experience of playing much more enjoyable.