Santa Barbara County Launches First of Its Kind Film Incentive Program in California

Program includes Unscripted Television and Commercials
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CONTACT: Michelle Rodriguez, Director of Communications
Visit Santa Barbara
805.966.9222 x112, [email protected]

Jaime Shaw, Communications Associate
Visit Santa Barbara
805.966.9222 x107, [email protected]

Santa Barbara County is offering a new media production incentive program that is the first of its kind in California with the goal to encourage production companies to bring their projects to the area. The program is unique because it includes unscripted television, commercial and still photography, in addition to feature films and scripted television.  Created by the Santa Barbara County Film Commission, this innovative incentive program provides a cash rebate for eligible productions that book a minimum number of room nights in specified areas of the County.

Film Commissioner Geoff Alexander says, “We’re incredibly excited about launching this program.  By including still photography production, commercials, and unscripted television, we have created an incentives program which is entirely unique in the State of California.  We believe that word will travel fast that Santa Barbara County wants this business.”

Santa Barbara County has always been a filming mecca, and in 2010 celebrated its 100th year of filmmaking. Before Hollywood, this coastal city was the hub of California’s film industry and home to the state’s first major movie studio, the legendary Flying A Studio (1910), and early pioneers during the silent-film era.  Some well-known films to use Santa Barbara County as a backdrop include: The Ten Commandments (1923), The Graduate (1967), Seabiscuit (2003), Sideways (2004), Grindhouse (2006), Pirates of the Caribbean III: At World’s End (2007), There Will Be Blood (2007) and It’s Complicated (2009), which starred Santa Barbara as the setting for the film.

With a strong history of filmmaking, this new incentive program demonstrates the commitment that Santa Barbara County has to bringing production to the region. The program provides a cash rebate up to a maximum amount per project to qualified productions, with funding provided through a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Film Commission and matched by the Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association. Productions qualify by housing crew at hotels in incentive zones and booking minimum numbers of room nights in these zones over the course of the production.  The minimum room nights are determined by type of production as follows: still photography (50 room nights), unscripted television (50 room nights), scripted television (100 room nights), commercial photography shoots (100 room nights) and feature films (200 room nights).  Incentive zones include Santa Barbara County’s South Coast which consists of Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito, Santa Barbara and Goleta, and the Santa Ynez Valley communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez and Solvang.

Projects are qualified on a first come, first serve, basis until all available funds have been utilized for the year.  Permit fees qualify to be reimbursed as do fifty percent of California Highway Patrol or Police costs up to the maximum amount allowed per production.  Production companies that are interested should contact Film Commissioner Geoff Alexander at 805.966.9222 or [email protected], and visit the website

The Film Commission, under the umbrella of Visit Santa Barbara, is the hub for production in the County.  The Film Commission assists with the permit process, makes referrals to local services, and acts as the liaison between the production and the community. provides local vendor, crew, permit and location resources.  For more information contact Film Commissioner Geoff Alexander at 805.966.9222 or [email protected].

Visit Santa Barbara is a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization jointly funded by the City of Santa Barbara, the County of Santa Barbara, the South Coast Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) and by a membership of hospitality-related busi­nesses. The primary mission of Visit Santa Barbara is to enhance the economies of the City of Santa Barbara, South Coast communities and Santa Barbara County areas through tourism marketing that increases business revenue, tax revenue and creates jobs.

The  not-for-profit 501(C)3 Santa Ynez Valley Hotel Association (SYVHA) was formed in 2010 and is comprised of 33 member hotels in the communities of Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Buellton and Ballard to administer funds collected by the Santa Ynez Valley Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID) promoting overnight stays and economic vitality in the area. For more information please contact Executive Director Mary Harris at 805.325.3528 or [email protected] or

Featured on the cover of Travel + Leisure in May 2013 and voted Best Getaway by L.A. Times Readers’ Choice Awards in 2012, Santa Barbara is located just 92 miles north of Los Angeles and 332 miles south of San Francisco, on the Pacific coastline. Visitors can arrive via scenic Highway 101, train, bus or by flying into Santa Barbara Municipal Airport or Los Angeles International Airport. For travel and accommodation information and to request a free copy of the official Santa Barbara County Visitors Magazine, contact Visit Santa Barbara at 800.676.1266, 805.966.9222, [email protected] or Visitor information is also available at the Visitor Center, 1 Garden Street (at Cabrillo Boulevard).

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