Producers will continue to be able to deduct the costs of producing qualified film and television productions from a production company’s U.S. taxes because the federal government has made those deductions permanent.
On Sept. 30, 2011 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) posted a notice on the Federal Register—Deduction for Qualified Film and Television Production Costs—that lists details of the film production tax deductions, which were already in use, but which became permanent Sept. 29.
The notice contains final regulations relating to deductions for the costs of producing qualified film and television productions, the IRS says. Those “final regulations reflect changes to the law made by the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 and the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005, and affect persons that produce film and television productions within the United States.”
The temporary tax deductions were enacted by Congress “to promote film and television production in the United States,” and a film or television production is qualified for the deductions “if 75 percent of the total compensation” for the production is for services performed in the United States by actors, directors, producers and other production personnel, the notice says.
In addition, the notice says qualified film or television company owners can “deduct production costs paid, or incurred” by the owner of a production in the taxable year the costs are paid or incurred, in lieu of capitalizing the costs and recovering them through depreciation allowances, if the aggregate production costs do not exceed $15 million ($20 million if a significant amount of the aggregate production costs are paid or incurred in certain designated areas) for each qualifying production.”
The final regulations use the term “pre-amendment production” to distinguish productions that are subject to the maximum aggregate production costs limit listed in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 and modified by the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005, and are subject to the maximum production costs deduction limit in the Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008. Several provisions of the final regulations are specific to pre-amendment productions and are designated accordingly, the notice says.
I’ll admit it up front: I love Apple products. I find the elegance in their use and design, the software and hardware integration, their near ubiquitousness in the Creative community, and the just plain “cool” factor of owning Apple products very satisfying. However, in the end what makes me most attracted to Apple products is that for the most part they “just work”. After having struggled with Windows based products for years or electronics from other companies that I spent more time troubleshooting than actually using, Apple is a nice respite from that tedious experience.
So it makes sense that last year when iPad 1 came out, I bought it on day one. You can see some of my thoughts after using it for a summer here. And when iPad 2 was released on March 11 of 2011, I braved the 600+ person crowd at the Salem NH Apple Store for 6 hours to pick a couple up. This is not necessarily another iPad 2 review, however. It’s more of a look of how the iPad (1 or 2) can benefit you, the NeedCreative reader, focusing on the latest hardware just released from Apple.
You see, you can do a ton of “average joe” things with iPad (either generation) from emailing to both casual and intense gaming, streaming Netflix to video chatting. However for I believe iPad offers even more for Digital Visualmakers (i.e., photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers who use digital tools). The iPad can become an essential tool in your arsenal. And it starts with a critical thing that has driven many independent filmmakers towards HDSLRs in the first place: portability and size.
Filmmakers have long been using Google SketchUp Pro to map out complicated scenes, camera moves, and set designs — according to Google, the $495 program has been used for planning shots for projects including Inception, 300, The Social Network, and Tron: Legacy. Offering robust 3D visualization without the complexity of real 3D toolsets, SketchUp has proved itself so useful as a previs tool that it’s hard to believe that the core functionality for filmmakers, a “Film & Stage” plug-in that dates to 2004, hasn’t been updated to keep pace with the ongoing revolution in digital filmmaking. That’s finally changed with the announcement that those ragged-trousered tools have just been given a kick in the pants.
The new Advanced Camera Tools plugin is free to paid users of SketchUp Pro 8 on both Windows and Mac. It lets you drop any one of dozens of new, pre-configured camera types into your scene, or build your own virtual camera if the one you need isn’t included. (Lots of cameras are included, from 35mm and 65mm film cameras to Reds and Phantoms and more.) Once your camera is in the scene, you can select the right focal length and aspect ratio and then move the camera using the computer keyboard. Frustrum lines (for overhead views) and volumes (for views from within the scene) help you visualize exactly which parts of a given scene multiple cameras will have in their field of view.
The JustFilms initiative will invest $10 million a year in film, video and digital works “that show courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world.”
You know what that means don’t you? Get out your gear. Swipe through your contact list, and collaborate with your creative friends and associates… Because there’s money to be made creating digital video. Most of us know somebody who does something extraordinary, courageous or socially conscious. Now you can help them with their cause, and get your film funded too!
You are invited to witness the latest and greatest innovations in the Creative realm at one of LA’s top luxury hotels! Immerse yourself in presentations and exhibits with the biggest names in Photography, Graphics, Video, Audio, Web and everything you’ll need in unleashing your creativity and productivity. Learn about the newest products, interact face to face with industry experts from Apple, Adobe, Autodesk, HP (and many more) and win cool prizes!!!
First 100 attendees get a Pure Digital Flip Video camera worth $149.99 for FREE*!
Lunch and refreshments served. Awarding of gifts and Grand Prize raffle drawing to be held towards the end of the exhibit.
DVcreators.net has been known as the world leader in Final Cut Pro training since the day Final Cut Pro 1.0 was released.
Shooting Awesome Video is the world’s best complete beginning course on shooting high quality video.
If your video footage looks like “Blair Witch” or “Cloverfield”, and you wish it looked more like “Amelie” or “Hero”, Shooting Awesome Video is the perfect learning experience. It is like a complete “consumer film school” for anyone who wants to dramatically improve the quality of the video footage they shoot.
Shooting Awesome Video is not meant for professionals. It was created for novices who wish to learn Hollywood secrets of camera operation, composition, lighting and location sound in a fun, family-friendly, fast-paced course. However, Shooting Awesome Video is such an excellent complete introduction to production it is the perfect prerequisite to more professional-level courses such as our DV Enlightenment lighting course.
Shooting Awesome Video was originally released on CD-ROM, and has already helped thousands of hobbyists, teachers, students, and budding filmmakers learn the essentials of shooting great-looking and great-sounding footage. The American Film Institutechose Shooting Awesome Video as the world’s best beginning production course for a program to teach Los Angeles District high school teachers about shooting digital video.
No one should learn alone. Each screen includes an ”Ask a Question” button that will post your question on our forums for us and thousands of other digital video creators to answer. You are always welcome to join us to ask questions, offer advice, and share tips with other students and your instructor.
If you really want to previsualize your project before shooting, either for your own benefit or to pitch a project to anyone, investors, potential collaborators or your boss, consider doing a “living storyboard”.
Here are the steps:
Draw storyboard frames, or create in a drawing app – only need to draw wide shots where tighter shots have the same camera angle
If you drew them on paper or cards, shoot a photo of each one
Put the stills in your editing timeline in the right order
Do a scratch audio track in which you do all the voices (and music and sound effects- and even comment on certain shots)
Then make the storyboard still stretch over the right amount of time, using pans, tilts, and resize the image for medium and closeup shots when needed
This secret has worked well for others- for example, Elyse Couvillion used this secret to present her idea for “Sweet” to Allen Daviau, who agreed to DP her short based on her living storyboard created in Final Cut Pro.
I remember heading to dinner 6 or 7 years ago with Randy Ubillos, creator of Final Cut Pro, telling him my vision for a future FCP update- incorporating some pre-production elements like storyboarding, in which the user would link captured clips to a storyboard frame, then FCP would rough cut the project together automatically, with multiple takes being multiclips so they could be easily compared.
Now, it’s possible Apple is patenting some storyboarding processes to incorporate into FCP?
Choose a "model" for your project. That means choosing a commercial, TV show, or a scene from a movie, that has a style that would work well for your project. Then study it, and use the same elements and style in your project.
Try to use the same camera angles, same shot composition, similar music, similar editing style- and your project will come out much better, because you’re building on what’s come before rather than reinventing the wheel.
Remember: "Borrow from one source, it’s stealing. Borrow from two, it’s research" (thanks to Ross Jones for that quote).
This is what all great filmmakers, artists, musicians and athletes do- emulate other greats. Remember, "Plagiarism is the most sincere form of flattery".
We have had many questions on how much to charge for various jobs. When I first got into the biz almost 20 years ago, the standard for industrial video production (training, marketing etc.) was $1000 per finished minute. So a 20 minute piece would be $20,000, including planning, shooting and editing.
Nowadays there is no standard. Being a creative pursuit, videomaking is done for free to millions of dollars. TV commercials are shot for free (by local cable companies), average about $300,000, and can run to millions. So asking "how much should I charge" depends on many factors:
– how long will it take you? – what is the quality level you are capable of? – what is the client’s budget? – is the piece straight video with few cuts or will it contain tons of time-consuming animations and graphics? – how many other jobs do you have waiting?
Here is one way to figure hourly charges:
1. Decide how much you want to make per year 2. Decide how many hours per week on average you will be able to bill (if you have contacts, 20 – 30 hours is reasonable- the other 20 – 30 hours spent marketing, getting jobs, learning, etc.) 3. Divide one by the other, and bingo! There’s your hourly rate.
If you are teamed up with a busy ad agency or other company who can feed you jobs without you looking around much, you will have more work than if you do not have a network of existing business relationships. Some producers have one or two major clients that keep them busy.
How much you can make producing video is largely a factor of what kind of videos you are doing and your contacts. And the quality of your work must be professional looking and sounding! That is the mission of DVcreators.net, to help you produce very pro quality with simple, inexpensive gear.
Celtx is the first comprehensive software package designed for people who work in the Pre-Production of Film, TV, Theatre and New Media. It provides all of the tools you need under one application and works on all platforms.
Story Development Tools Celtx includes Scene and Character Development tools that help spur creativity. Use the customizable forms to build out the story line of your project. Any information will be added to your project database and automatically pre-populate your script and reports.
Professional Script Writing Import, write and edit movie scripts using industry standard formatting. Celtx uses intuitive writing and all the features expected in a professional application – like Spellchecking, Find and Replace, and auto completion of Character Names and Scene Headings.
Project Schedule Keep track of all your project dates in a shareable calendar.
Media Rich Breakdowns Celtx is the first application that allows creative people to perform media rich breakdowns in order to help pre-visualize and plan their project. Users can complete media rich breakdowns by associating sound files, video clips and digital pictures to their script all of which is auto-saved in a shareable database.
Customized Production Reports Generate customizable Production Reports to help plan and organize your film project.
Collaboration Collaborate with team members by securely sharing your project using the built in Celtx server.
Veteran DPs (directors of photography) will shoot camera tests in advance of filming a project – trying different lenses and different camera settings to achieve the visual style and effect they want for the film. Rolling some tape well in advance of your shoot, in one of your locations or somewhere similar and experimenting will give you a huge advantage on the day of the shoot.
This means you won't be burning time experimenting with camera settings, filters, and mics on the actual shoot- just concentrating on getting the framing and performance you want. This will lead to a much more productive, less stressful shooting day and excellent looking and sounding footage that is ideal for your project.
It can give a great boost to the quality of your footage if you can plan to set up in your location the day before, shoot a little test footage with full lights and sound, then review your test footage that night, making a few adjustments the next morning before the actual shoot to make everything perfect. Even if your actual location is not available the day before, just setting up all your gear somewhere similar and shooting some test footage will help prepare you for the shoot.
You are also making sure your camera, mics and all other equipment is in perfect functioning condition. (Stan Smith's tip!)
And, if you pack up right afterwards, it will also ensure you don't forget any gear or accessories you'll need.
Here are some things to keep in mind while shooting camera tests:
Where in this location will I put the camera?
What time of day works the best in this location (if daylight is a factor)?
Should I shoot this project in normal video mode, or a lower frame rate? Should I shoot with normal exposure, or slightly over- or underexposed?
What shutter speed will give me the look I want?
Should I tweak the sharpness or setup levels on my camcorder up or down for this project?
Should I shoot with filters? Which one(s)?
Should I use a wide angle lens for a lot of shots?
What framing looks better'tighter or wider?
Should I use a lot of low or high angles, Dutch angles, or straight on shots?
Do I need to rent, borrow, or buy a camera stabilizer so I can get smooth moving shots? How about a jib arm?
What microphone and accessories should I use? How should I set my audio levels- manual, or auto?
What is the complete list of gear I need to bring to this shoot?
One huge tip I learned over the years to really appreciate, was from Josh “Listmaster” Mellicker – the CEO of DVcreators.net. The tip may seem extremely basic, if you’re like me, you may even initially scoff it off, but later you’ll remember these words and find them to be invaluable.
The tip, before every shoot – ALWAYS MAKE A LIST.
In the office anytime you heard “Make a list!” you knew something important was about to go down. Before we run out the door to any shoot, we print a copy of our checklist. Every item is physically picked-up and checked off the list, and then more importantly, everything is double-checked again. I can tell you from my experience during hundreds of productions that the simple checklist has saved me from disaster numerous times.
Seems simple? Yes, it can be. Video production isn’t like going to the grocery store where you can keep a mental checklist without serious consequences. Most of the time, when a gig is going down, there are no second chances – no take two – or time to wait, go back and get a certain item. You either “bring home the bacon” or you don’t.
I vividly recount the horror story of a new hire saying “Ya ya, I personally checked it all off.” He checked it off alright – only to arrive at an important event with NO TAPES!
Professionals and experts learn from their mistakes. One difference between the Pro and the Amateur is that the Pro often learned the hard way and won’t make the mistake again. Just like the Boy Scouts, you’ll benefit from their motto, “Be Prepared.” Sometimes you have to take a few arrows in the back and remember the pain for it to really sink in. Do you think that new hire will ever forget tape stock again?
Consider the checklist to be one of your most valuable professional tools. Learn from our mistakes so you don’t forget an important item. Make it easier on yourself. You’ll be more relaxed when you know you got the goods.
I’d like to share with you one of our lists called the “DV Gear Checklist.” You can download our printable PDF version or the raw Excel Spreadsheet to customize. Don’t have Excel? Check out the open source software NeoOffice.
If you loved Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and the Incredibles, and ever wondered how a movie gets made at Pixar, this is a cool slide show that takes you through the process: http://www.pixar.com/howwedoit/index.html#