The first year of the California Film & Television Tax Credit Program has created and retained tens of thousands of jobs and generated $2 billion in direct spending to California communities, said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In its first year, the California Film Commission, which administers the program, allocated $200 million in tax credits to 77 projects. This year, another 30 projects are set to receive an additional $100 million in tax credit allocations. Together, they are estimated to bring $2 billion in direct spending to California communities. The figure includes $736 million in wages paid to below-the-line crew members, according to data compiled by the Film Commission.

“This is exactly why I fought so hard for tax credits in last year’s budget,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “It is the private sector that will bring California’s economy back, and our tax incentives are clearly helping employers along the way. That’s why it’s important that we continue to be a partner to employers and not a roadblock.”

The California Film Commission reports that the 77 first-year projects approved for tax credits will hire 18,200 crew members, 4,000 cast members, and over 100,000 extras. These approved projects include 51 feature films, both studio and independent, seven television series and 14 made-for-television-movies.

“The enormous interest in our tax credit program shows that a targeted incentive can keep tens of thousands of high-paying jobs in California,” said California Film Commission Executive Director Amy Lemisch. “I am thrilled with how effective this program has been.”

Director Kevin Smith has been one beneficiary of the new program. “For three years, I’ve been trying to make Red State,” he said. “It wasn’t until my project qualified for the tax credit program that the flick fast-tracked into reality. A film it seemed would never get made is now lensing right here in California.”

As of June 1, 2010, production companies could apply to California’s tax credit program for the program’s second year. Thirty productions have been approved for allocations which exhausts the fiscal year funding, and the remaining applicants have been added to a waiting list. The 30 productions include 19 feature films, eight television series and three made-for-television-movies.

Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation enacting the tax credit program in 2009 as part of a targeted economic stimulus package to increase film/TV production in California. The program authorizes the California Film Commission to allocate $100 million in tax credits each fiscal year (or up to $200 million in its first year of operation) to eligible productions through fiscal year 2013-14.  Productions will not receive their tax credit certificates until they have completed post-production, and the tax credits do not become effective before January 1, 2011.