All posts by William Tobias

Film Production Recovery in North America after COVID 19 

Everything is slowly getting back to normal with new precautions, guidelines and rules. Filming industry is making its come back with re-opening of cinemas and new productions. 

Producing a film in North America is also one of those little slower sectors. There are no proper federal COVID guidelines, states, countries and local municipalities are setting their own set of rules and regulations for the restraining of a pandemic. The Film commission reports that everyone is ready to go to work, but there are lots of things required for this restart like coronavirus testing capacity, insurance, and health and safety guidelines.

States are providing relief to the production industry. 

Georgia: 

Many people are doing well in handling this situation, and recently Tyler Perry mega-multihyphenate in Georgia has completed filming his BET series’ “Sistas” and now working on another production “the Oval”. The remarkable thing  is that not a single case was recorded in this procedure. 

Perry talked about measure and safety guidelines he followed while shooting his productions. He said that he made sure everyone  (cast and crew) wear their mask when they are not shooting as masks have been scientifically proved to be stopping the spread. Perry said that he made sure everyone followed the security measures as he did not want any of them to be quarantined for 3 to 12 days due to a virus. 

Georgia is getting up to 30% tax relief for film, television, music videos, commercials, interactive games and animation. The Entertainment Industry Investment Act provides a 20% tax credit for $500,000 or more spent on production and post-production in Georgia, either in a single production or on multiple projects. The state also grants an additional 10% tax credit if the finished project includes a promotional logo provided by the state. 

Web: georgia.org/industries/film-entertainment 

New York 

New York is ready  to start their production work but with lots of precautions and care. Everything is moving carefully and next month is looking more promising and productive. There is no doubt that production is going very slow, but developments can be seen  at Steiner Studios which is working with a 500,000 sq –ft facility in  Sunset Park 

New York boosts 30% tax credit on both eligible costs and post-production expenses, but are not eligible for the “film production tax credit program.” 

Web: esd.ny.gov 

California: 

California is also back in the production business. The city has announced in August that many of its latest projects are going to be started. These big productions include Netflix’s big-budget “Gray Man” starring Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling. TV series are also ready to take their flight with shooting around southern California. SWAT recently shot at some location in Santa Clarita with strict safety protocols. 

California’s $1.55 billion Film & Television Tax Credit Program 3.0 runs for five years, with a sunset date of June 30, 2025, and each fiscal year, from July 1 to June 30, the $330 million funding is categorized in TV projects, relocating TV, indie features and non-indie features. 

Web: film.ca.gov 

Louisiana: 

Louisiana was hit hard by COVID.  The state has given approving nods to the  production industry following safety guidelines,

Production is getting up to 40% tax credit on total qualified expenditures that include resident and non-resident labor. 

Web: louisianaentertainment.gov 

Canada 

Canada is ready to host, albeit shootings with travel restrictions and have set detailed safety protocols for each province.
Entry to the country is allowed but only after 14-day self-quarantine before they can start working on set. The Canada Film or Video Production Tax Credit  known as CPTC is providing 100% refundable tax credit to eligible productions. The relief is available at a rate of 25% of qualified labor expenditure.
 

Web: canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/funding/cavco-tax-credits/film-video-production-services 

Ontario: ontariocreates.ca/tax-incentives/ofttc 

British Columbia: gov.bc.ca/gov 

 

American Film Market Cancelled but Offering Free Credentials to Buyers for Virtual Market


The American Film Market has announced that all approved buyers will receive complimentary credentials for its Virtual 2020 edition on November 9-13. 

 The IFTA announced last month that it would not keep the physical sales market. Following in the footsteps of the virtual market in June. It also moved the market a week back to avoid a conflict with Election Day 

Buyers’ credentials will provide access to the AFM online platform, which includes exhibitions in the on-demand theater, all exhibit pages, my AFM profile, and connection platform, and a five-day live session. 
 

“AFM 2020 Online is an exciting opportunity for us to fully embrace buyers from all over the world, especially those who cannot travel to Santa Monica.” Michael Ryan, IFTA Chairperson, and partner at GFM Films said. He said that the need for these five days dedicated to the rapid transformation of the industry and the reunification of those free from challenges and running a business is even greater. On behalf of the IFTA Board of Directors, we look forward to welcoming every buyer online to AFM in November. 
 

AFM is one of the key selling markets for the independent film industry, with the Berlin Film Festival in February, the Cannes Film Festival in May, and the European Film Market with Toronto Intel Film Festival in September. The cover was moved to Cannes Virtual Festival due to a virus epidemic and the upcoming TIFF has been rapidly reduced in size and scope. 

 

Avatar 2 delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19


Avatar 2 delayed indefinitely due to COVID-19
The Avatar sequels have been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, James Cameron confirmed Thursday
James Cameron’s long-delayed sequels to Avatar” will now premiere every other December starting in 2022 as follows: “Avatar 2” (Dec. 16, 2022), “Avatar 3” (Dec. 20, 2024), “Avatar 4” (Dec. 18, 2026) and “Avatar 5” (Dec. 22, 2028). The second “Avatar” installment, which was originally aiming to open in 2014, will debut 13 years after the first film.
Disney announced that they are also pulling other highly anticipated films, which include Mulan and The French Dispatch. No release date has been reported.

Amma Asante to Start Principal Photography on ‘Billion Dollar Spy’ in 12 Months 

American filmmaker Amma Asante has revealed that she plans to start principal photography in 12 months on the long-awaited project “The Billion Dollar Spy”. Production is currently halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. Adapted from David E. Hoffman’s best-selling book of the same name, Benjamin August (“Remember”), the production of Walden Media and Wade Road Pictures will tell the true story of one of the most influential people in the Pentagon’s last years. He had become a valuable spy cold War. Akiva Goldsman is ready to go. 

“You know that the aesthetic that I wanted was to cover the snow and cover as much real snow as possible and that would limit the time of year,” Asante said. “I think that will happen in the next 12 months.” 

Asante was talking to Scottish radio DJ and TV presenter Edith Bowman, who discussed her award-winning career as part of the Virtual BAFTA Master class, which included the London Film Festival and San Francisco. Sebastian includes two BAFTA as well as Gong. 

Asante’s film credits include “A Way of Life,” “Belle,” “The United Kingdom” and “Wherever hands touch“. Television credits include episodes of “A handmade tale” and “Mrs. America.” 

A way of life 

Asante spoke openly about the obstacles facing the industry, despite winning the Carl Foreman Award in 2005 for highly specialized newcomers to BAFTAs for their first feature “A Way of Life”. “I want to say that when I won my BAFTA, I talked about 10 years before making another film, and there are directors who are not black and there are not women who are the same. BAFTA won – for a debut, producer, or writer – and when I started making another film, I made more films than I did. 

“You get into a situation where the industry says, ‘We need experienced people.’ Well, of course, people will be more experienced if they have more opportunities, and you have fewer opportunities. “So we’re in the Catch 22 situation in the industry setup. It’s designed to limit the many of us who look like us while gaining experience like me while giving those who are more diligent, clean, More than us, but those who manage to make the most award-winning films and work with big actors and big names only because they have been able to present their art. “ 

“We have to be tough and keep changing, and I have a way of doing that, although it frustrates me. Is it that for every film I’m in control of, I make sure I have less There is at least one emerging film. Women filmmakers are casting me over this film, “said Asante.” In my last film, as most people know, I had four films.
 

Jason Momoa in Talks to Voice ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in Warner Bros. Movie 

Aquaman” himself, Jason Momoa, is in talks to play Frosty the Snowman in a movie to be made for Warner BrosMomoa will also perform with Geoff Johns, and Stampede’s Greg Silverman and June Berg. David Berenbaum, who collaborated with Berg on “Elf”, is ready to script the film. “We know Jason is a real man, full of love, compassion, and a deep connection to Ohana; he’s the living spirit of Xmas and Frosty,” Silverman said. 

Momoa’s “Aquaman was a huge hit for Warner Bros, grossing $ 1.14 billion at the worldwide box office. The studio is preparing a sequel. Berg, executive producer of “Aquaman“, said: “We all won from ‘Aquaman‘ as far as his marine success as a land of ice and fire, this time it was just right to feel Jason in the snow. “Berg, who was an executive producer at Aquaman. “ 

The character comes from the famous Christmas song written by Walter Rollins and Steve Nelson, and was first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950 after the success of Atri’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Momoa will be seen as Duncan Idaho in the next Warner Bruce sci-fi saga “Dune“. The news about the Frosty project was first announced through the deadline

FilmLA is getting 14 film permits in one day

FilmLA reports that about 14 film permit applications have been submitted since the resumption of remote operations on June 15. It reported on Wednesday that the largest television project to apply for a location shoot was Freeform’s “Love in time of corona”. The filmLA said that three soap operas have resumed filming on the sound stages in Los Angeles: “Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Young and the Restless” and “General Hospital.” FilmLA does not coordinate permits for the productions on certified sound stages. 

Epidemics halted film and television production in March. Unions and studios have been working in recent weeks to hammer out specific protocols to protect the health of those in the seats. The agency also said on Wednesday that it was interested in getting hundreds of moviegoers back to work. To date, 13 of the 16 city and county jurisdictions served by FilmLA have reopened to filming, as has one of the six school districts served by FilmLA. Representatives from FilmLA described the return of filming as “cautious and gradual”, with upcoming applications consisting of 56% small steel photo shoots and commercials. The next largest group of applicants comes from television, the way forward with the shooting of reality. 

“Since its reopening, we’ve seen growing interest from filmgoers and the community in how filming can resume safely and responsibly,” said Paul Audley, president of FilmLA. “New health orders for permit seekers – mandates issued by the County Public Health Department under the guidance of industry advisers – need to be seriously considered. This will make it much easier for us to re-film the local population. 

Cannes Marche Debates How to Keep Co-Productions Afloat during COVID-19

With many activities starting to recover since the lockdown forced by the coronavirus pandemic, co-producers have started putting several measures in place as Film Productions restarts.

In a session with Cannes Marche, while addressing Co-Production in COVID-19 Times, Finola Dwyer – founder of Wildgaze Films stated that her company has made a decision to postpone any filming shoots in the United States and Canada and instead are now focusing on local production. Finola also added – “We’re sticking to what we’re doing, holding our nerve and keeping an eye out on U.K. projects that are more self-contained – because this virus is going  to be with us for quite a while.” 

She also revealed that her company currently working on some projects including one with British screenwriter and novelist Nick Hornby.

Also speaking on the issue, Executive Producer Mike Goodridge also said, “Just having to restart preproduction can be a costly process, so there has been a considerable uptick in budget but our co-production partners, our private equity, our bond companies and the banks have all been very understanding, We are all pulling together to get best the result.”

Before the coronavirus lockdown that was imposed around the world, Mike Goodridge was working on co-producing “Triangle of Sadness” – a film starring Woody Harrelson and is being directed by Ruben Ostlund. 

In the session, Goodridge expressed optimism about the shoot saying it was only 37% complete before the lockdown and that they were fortunate the Swedish insurance policy on the film covered them for the pandemic.

While many of the co-producers present in the session were optimistic, some of them were confident they would restart co-production with ease. 

GFG Films’ Matthew Metcalf who produced Dean Spanley and Love Birds are one of the co-producers who are confident it is business as usual for them. He said: “On a domestic level, New Zealand is effectively out of it now – I can go to work in my office – there is lots of work – but everything is more difficult than it was.” He continued, “The irony is that while we can’t travel all the relationships that I have forged over 20 years have been through jumping on planes and nurturing relationships. That’s enabled me now to reach out on Zoom and keep on going.”

Another producer who sees the lockdown as a mixed blessing is Scottish based Victoria Thomas who founded The Polkadot Factory and had to spend the lockdown in Edinburgh. 

She said: “Since lockdown there do seem to be a lot more people who are around and willing to answer their emails at least!” She also added that her company was working on a documentary before the lockdown but it has since been overtaken by other world events. In her words, “The project cover kids in France and police brutality – so we’re now looking at that narrative in the context of what’s been happening.”

Claudia Steffen who is the Managing Director of Pandora Film, a company based in Cologne, however, expressed concern about the financial positions of crew members and said how well each crew member depends on the level of support their government provides for them. 

In her words, “Each country is thinking of its own people and own costs. The German Government came through quickly to support the crew –they can apply for a grant, which covers 60% of what they earn for a whole year. France has also been supportive. Yet we hear of crew from the U.K. that don’t get anything – or their contracts have been canceled. It’s difficult when you start a film and have mix of crew with no security and others who are completely secure.”

She added that other governments need to provide some level of support to stimulate production saying “It’s the cheapest form of funding they could provide.”

Warner Bros. Moves fourth Matrix Film to 2022

Off the back of moving Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984 to new release dates, Warner Bros. has announced the change in date of another upcoming highly anticipated movie.

This was announced in line with the huge changes Warner Bros. has been making. Matrix 4, which was initially scheduled to release May 21, 2021, is now scheduled for April 1, 2022.  This decision came as a result of the pause in production which was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming of the movie was carried out in Germany before the pandemic and is proposed to start next month.

Many of the original casts of the franchise such as Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Neil Patrick Haris are back for the fourth installment of the movie. The franchise’s co-creator, Lana Wachowski, also remains one of the directors of the movie.

In other news, Warner Bros. has removed “Witches” from its scheduled release date and is yet to announce a date for the movie. The movie which stars Anne Hathaway is directed by Robert Zemeckis and was initially scheduled for release on October 8, 2020.

In addition, the sci-fi action movie “Godzilla vs Kong” is now scheduled by Warner Bros. to release May 21, 2021; the date which was originally scheduled for Matrix 4 release. Also, Warner bros. moved its upcoming live-action comedy film, “Tom and Jerry” to March 5, 2021, from December 23, 2020.

 The Hollywood studios also announced it will be releasing one of its untitled horror movies on Jun. 24, 2020 while also removing another untitled Warner Bros. event film originally scheduled for Oct. 16, 2020, to a date later to be announced.

All in all, the studio changed the release dates of 6 of its upcoming movies while also removing two other ones from their scheduled release date with no date yet to be announced. 

Cineworld backs away from $2.1 Billion Deal for Canada’s Cineplex, cites deal breach

U.K based enterprise, Cineworld announced earlier this week that they are no longer working on the proposed $2.1 billion deal to acquire Canada’s Cineplex after Cineplex appears to have breached some of the agreements backing the deal.

Cineworld is U.K ‘s leading multiplex Cinema chain with over 9518 screens in 11 countries. Cineworld Cinemas made the shocking announcement after evidence and proof of breaches from Cineplex Inc.’s end of the deal surfaced.

In a statement responding to the announcement, Cineplex said: “As a consequence of these matters and Cineplex’s unwillingness to cure the breaches, Cineworld has notified Cineplex that it has terminated the Arrangement Agreement with immediate effect. The Acquisition will therefore not proceed.”

In addition, Cineworld claims Cineplex denied breaching the terms of the deal and that there was no material adverse effect from their end. In their statement, they said: “Cineworld has complied with all of its obligations under the Arrangement Agreement and it is entitled to terminate the Arrangement Agreement. It will therefore vigorously defend any allegation to the contrary.”

Cineworld’s acquisition agreements with Cineplex was announced back in December 2019. The deal would have seen Cineworld acquire the 1695 screens in 165 cinemas that are operated by Cineplex – one of Canada’s biggest theatrical brand.

Cineworld is currently in a $3.6 billion deal with Regal Entertainment Group and has planned to combine the operations of the Regal Entertainment Group and Cineplex Inc. thus making them the largest cinema chain in North America. Had the Cineplex deal gone through, Cineworld would be operating 11,204 screens ins various cinemas globally and 8,906 screens in Canada and the U.S.

“Gone With The Wind” Screening in Paris Canceled by Warner Bros.

It just won’t stop. Warner Bros. yet again makes changes to their scheduled dates. This time, the Hollywood studios announced “Gone with the Wind” which was scheduled for screening on June 23rd at the Rex Theater will no longer be released.

The Romance-Drama movie was scheduled for theatrical release on June 23 to celebrate the reopening of Cinemas in France after they were all shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Having been scheduled to release in France’s biggest theater, HBO Max temporarily pulled the Oscar-winning movie from their website following John Ridley’s featured article in the Los Angeles Times Newspaper. In the op-ed, John Ridley urged the streaming service to remove the movie from its library due to the way the film “romanticizes the horrors of slavery.

The award-winning classic was released in 1939 and has gone on to win eight (8) Academy awards but has always been partially criticized for its depiction of Slavery and black people as a whole. The movie starred Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, and Clark Gable and tells the story of the love between the daughter of a plantation owner and a southern aristocrat.

Realizing what releasing the movie would mean in light of the ongoing protests, HBO Max, released a statement while simultaneously pulling the movie from its website. In the statement, the streaming service said the Civil war epic would return and be available for people to watch. The service also added that it would be releasing a discussion about the historical context of the movie as well as their opposition towards the racist acts depicted in the movie.

“Gone with the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American Society. These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible. These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia’s values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions but will be presented as it was originally created because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable, and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history”.

The move does not come as a surprise considering the ongoing Black Lives Matter #BLM protests in light of George Floyd’s death. Re-releasing such a movie would only rile more people up.