California, the filmmaking capital of the world. And the capital of the world if you ask anyone in Hollywood. Ever since 1984, the California Film Commission has existed to enhance the state’s position as the premier destination for all forms of media creation.

In this article, we’ll explore the pivotal role of the California Film Commission in fostering a vibrant film and TV production landscape in the Golden State. From the bustling streets of Los Angeles to the serene landscapes of Northern California, the California Film Commission helps filmmakers at every level make their visions a reality.

Get to know the California Film Commission

The California Film Commission serves as a cornerstone for filmmakers by offering comprehensive production resources, including a generous film tax credit program for studios and independents alike, educational and professional development, help with permitting and location resources, and tools to ensure sets are safe for cast, crew, and the planet.

Deep Dive into the California Film Commission - Wrapbook - Golden Gate Bridge
The California Film Commission, a bridge between filmmakers and the Golden State. SOURCE

Established to support and promote film productions in California, the Commission is a nation-leading governmental agency dedicated to supporting film production.

Ways the California Film Commission supports filmmakers

The California Film Commission offers a number of resources and tools for producers, filmmakers, and entertainment professionals of every discipline. Some of these resources include:

Incentive programs

The California Film Office oversees state financial incentives that make filming in California more appealing and less expensive. California currently offers both a non-transferable and non-refundable tax credit for non-independent productions and a transferable tax credit that caters to independent productions.

Non-transferable, non-refundable tax credits cannot be resold or refunded for cash; they must be used by the applicants to whom they were awarded to offset California state tax liability. 

Transferable tax credits can be sold to other companies with tax liability in California, usually for a fraction of what the credit is worth.

California film tax credits are allocated for relocating television shows (previously shot outside of CA and relocating to CA), new television shows, television pilots, miniseries, and non-independent features through the state’s 3.0 tax credit program.

It’s worth noting that in 2025, California will launch its 4.0 tax credit program which will modify the current credit and offer a refundable film tax credit (one that can be refunded for cold, hard cash).

For more information about California’s film tax credit, check out Wrapbook’s guide to the film incentive program. And for detailed breakdowns of the film tax credits offered by states all across the country, explore Wrapbook’s Production Incentive Center, a hub for filmmakers and production companies in the know.

Educational and professional development

The California Film Commission also provides a number of workshops and seminars for professional skill enhancement. 

These workshops include the Professional Skills Tour that provides professional job tours and set visits for students enrolled in California high schools or community colleges. This program aims to give students at least eight hours of exposure to professional settings, which may include visits to sets and insights into various studio or production company departments.

The California Film Office also offers a variety of career readiness programs, including paid internships, faculty externships, studio employment, and classroom workshops and events, aimed at both students and educators​.

For the most current information on workshops, seminars, and other professional development opportunities offered by the California Film Commission, you can contact the office directly by email or check their official website.

Location scouting and permissions

The California Film Commission provides extensive support for location scouting and filming on state property, including beaches and parks. 

Currently the Commission has a comprehensive online directory for location scouting known as CinemaScout. This tool helps filmmakers find the perfect locations across California, showcasing the Golden State's diverse landscapes and settings.

Deep Dive into the California Film Commission - Wrapbook - Shoreline
From the sea to the mountains and everything in between, California has it all. SOURCE

The Commission also offers a comprehensive permit application process for various state properties, such as CalTrans and State Parks, to accommodate film productions. 

This process is detailed on their website, which offers step-by-step tutorials for creating an account, submitting a new application, and more, to ensure filmmakers can navigate the permit application process with ease.

Safety and sustainability

Finally, the California Film Commission provides various resources to ensure safe filmmaking in the state. 

The resources include detailed guidelines for filming in specific locations like state parks and beaches, information on required permits, and protocols to follow for the use of drones and special effects. 

The Commission also outlines safety measures for scenarios involving stunts and effects and fire (oh my!) as well as environmental considerations to protect sensitive areas. 

Additionally, the commission offers support with insurance requirements and connects filmmakers with necessary state agencies to address safety and operational issues during production​.

In the Golden State, environmental protection is just as important as cast and crew safety. California is a leader in green initiatives and sustainable practices.

The California Film Commission's Green Resource Guide is designed to help productions minimize their environmental impact. It includes information on sustainable practices across various aspects of production from catering and craft services to set construction and wardrobe donations.

The guide also provides resources for recycling and lists organizations that facilitate donations of food, clothing, and set materials. For more detailed information on sustainable filmmaking practices, you can visit the Green Resource Guide on the Commission's website​.

Programs and funding offered by the California Film Commission

The Commission's flagship is the Film & TV Tax Credit Program 3.0, which allocates tax credits to eligible productions, alongside other support services designed to bolster the local film industry.

For more about the California film tax credit program and how it can help your next production save big by filming in the Golden State, we invite you to check out our guide to California film tax credits.

Deep Dive into the California Film Commission - Wrapbook - Money
Save big in the Golden State with the California Film Commission. SOURCE

You can also visit Wrapbook’s Production Incentive Center for all your film tax incentive needs. The interactive tools and state-by-state incentives breakdown are built to help producers identify the best states in which they can find serious savings.

How to connect with the California Film Commission

Filmmakers can reach out to the California Film Commission through various channels including by email, on social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, and the official California Film Commission website.

Wrapping up

The California Film Commission remains an essential resource for film and TV production in California. Highlighting the state's commitment to the industry, the Commission not only offers financial incentives but also a gateway to a wealth of production resources. 

For a deeper dive into California's incentives and how they benefit productions, explore our California film incentives post and Wrapbook’s Production Incentive Center, which can help you strike gold in the Golden State.

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Last Updated 
April 1, 2024


At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

About the author
Tom Waddick

Tom is a filmmaker, producer, and marketing specialist based in Los Angeles.

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