S.F. looks to expand perks for Web film productions

Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced legislation that would amend the film rebate program.

Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced legislation that would amend the film rebate program.

San Francisco hopes to attract a piece of the fast-growing Web series industry by expanding its film incentive program to include productions such as Netflix’s acclaimed “House of Cards.”

But even as city officials are deliberating the change, Amazon Studios is shooting scenes in San Francisco for its upcoming Web series comedy based in Silicon Valley called “Betas,” which is about 20-something coders on the verge of making their startup fortune.

“This type of production is the wave of the future,” said Susannah Robbins, director of the San Francisco Film Commission. “Increasingly, Web series are being produced to meet the increased demand of streaming productions on people’s tablets, phones and home computers.”

The film rebate program, which reimburses film productions for certain taxes and city fees up to $600,000, was established in 2006 after San Francisco’s film sector plummeted.

Ever since, city officials have attempted to revive the local film industry.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced the legislation that would amend the rebate program, said it was important to adapt as the industry changes. The legislation, which the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on next week, would also slash in half the $100-per-day film permit fee for productions with budgets under $100,000.

In recent years, the number of productions applying for rebates has risen. In total, 14 productions have received $1.79 million. Reimbursed expenses are mostly for stage and production office space and the required use of San Francisco police officers, who come at a rate of about $100 per officer per hour with a minimum four-hour requirement.

Robbins said that combined, the productions have spent more than $42.5 million locally, of which $12.8 million was spent on pay for 4,300 local crew members and background extras.

Another $772,743 in rebates are expected to be distributed by February for an independent drama “Quitters,” the HBO series “Looking” and MTV’s “Real World.”Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsPolitics

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