San Francisco extending rebates for film industry 

click to enlarge Success story: The film “Knife Fight,” seen filming in San Francisco, received several city subsidies. The film will be released in November. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Success story: The film “Knife Fight,” seen filming in San Francisco, received several city subsidies. The film will be released in November.

The City will attempt to keep luring film productions to San Francisco by extending its 6-year-old film rebate program for another two years and increasing its funding by $2 million.

Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced legislation Tuesday to keep the program going beyond its June 30 expiration date.

As The City’s film industry plummeted, the rebate program was launched in 2006 to try and revive it. The plunge was blamed on the large financial incentives that other cities,  states and countries offer to film productions.

“Our film rebate program has been a great success — bringing in films such as ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’ and television series such as ‘Trauma,’” Farrell said. “Extending the program will continue to bring more jobs and direct economic benefits to our city.”

The first beneficiary of the extended rebate program is expected to be famed director Woody Allen, who plans to shoot his next film in San Francisco in August.

San Francisco Film Commission Executive Director Susannah Greason Robbins, who works to drum up more film business, said, “The rebate program is essential to drawing productions which will base here, rather than filming a few days for beauty shots.”

Under the program, film productions can receive a rebate of up to $600,000 for expenses such as city fees and San Francisco’s payroll tax.

Since The City offered a rebate for film productions in 2006, $1.5 million has been doled out to seven productions, including about $100,000 to the Oscar-winning Harvey Milk biopic “Milk” and $760,000 to the television series “Trauma.” That series was allowed to exceed the rebate cap since it filmed over two fiscal years.

“Had it not been for the rebate program and the amazing support of the S.F. Film Commission, we would likely have shot in L.A. and come to San Francisco for no more than 3-5 days,” said Catherine Davila, the producer of “Knife Fight,” a film shot in San Francisco in 2011 and scheduled to be released in November 2012.

“The program was key,” Davila said, “to our production coming to San Francisco for the full run of pre-production and principal photography, a total of four months.”  

Productions receiving rebates have spent a total of $40 million in San Francisco, according to a city controller’s report.

The legislation will require approval from the Board of Supervisors. Farrell said he expects it to pass.

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