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Old 08-07-2012, 10:04 PM   #1
Alienator
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A Foreign Company Producing a Film in America?

Hello all.

I would like to get your opinions and input regarding my situation. I am a film producer from outside the USA, I have a project in the works that would have to be filmed in America, more specifically in Los Angeles.
It will be a microbudget movie, budget in the $30,000-$50,000 range.

In your opinion, what would be the most sensible way to produce the movie?

I understand that a foreign company can start an LLC, but I don't know if we could produce the movie through an LLC if the only owners are foreign. All of the paperwork included would also be a pain in the neck not to mention eat a lot of the allready limited budget.

Then there are production service companies, but again, I don't know if they will work with foreign companies/producers and if they would even bother for a microbudget film.

Can a foreign company come to the United States and shoot a movie? There are documentary crews and news crews doing this all the time all over the world, would a feature film be any different?

The easiest way for us naturally would be to produce the movie under our company, pay everyone through our company and take care of the taxes etc. in our country. We would just come to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks to shoot the movie and be done with it.

The other thing is we would naurally need insurance, and no American insurance company will give a foreign company any insurance.

Do any of you have any experience in a similar situation? I would love to hear what you think.
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Old 08-08-2012, 12:48 AM   #2
directorik
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Yes, a foreign company can come to the US and shoot a movie. You
are correct, the paperwork will be a pain in the neck and eat up some
of the budget. Of course you can hire a local company but that, too,
will eat up a lot of the budget.

You can produce the movie under your company and pay everyone
through your company. The payroll taxes will need to be taken care
of here in the states not in your country.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alienator View Post
The other thing is we would naurally need insurance, and no American insurance company will give a foreign company any insurance.
This is incorrect. All insurance companies will insure a production here
in the states regardless of where you’re from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alienator View Post
In your opinion, what would be the most sensible way to produce the movie?
Hire a local UPM.
Do all your standard pre-production work - just as if you were shooting in
your country.
Do all the proper paperwork.
Come to Los Angeles.
Hire your crew.
Shoot your movie.
Head home.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:17 AM   #3
Alienator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
Yes, a foreign company can come to the US and shoot a movie. You
are correct, the paperwork will be a pain in the neck and eat up some
of the budget. Of course you can hire a local company but that, too,
will eat up a lot of the budget.

You can produce the movie under your company and pay everyone
through your company. The payroll taxes will need to be taken care
of here in the states not in your country.

This is incorrect. All insurance companies will insure a production here
in the states regardless of where you’re from.


Hire a local UPM.
Do all your standard pre-production work - just as if you were shooting in
your country.
Do all the proper paperwork.
Come to Los Angeles.
Hire your crew.
Shoot your movie.
Head home.
Thank you directorik! That cleared a lot of misconceptions.

How much would you say a decent UPM in LA would charge for a two week shoot?

Also what if some of the crew are independent contractors, would that save me from payroll taxes on their part?
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:23 AM   #4
directorik
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You will need an experienced UPM for several weeks - not just the
two weeks of the shoot. The UPM will be your contact here in LA
before you arrive and even after the shoot to make sure everything
is wrapped up.

This depends, of course on the specifics of your project. I'm just
stabbing in the dark because I know nothing at all about your project.
Maybe you don't need one at all.

Sure, you can hire the entire crew as independent contractors.
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:48 AM   #5
Alienator
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Quote:
Originally Posted by directorik View Post
You will need an experienced UPM for several weeks - not just the
two weeks of the shoot. The UPM will be your contact here in LA
before you arrive and even after the shoot to make sure everything
is wrapped up.

This depends, of course on the specifics of your project. I'm just
stabbing in the dark because I know nothing at all about your project.
Maybe you don't need one at all.

Sure, you can hire the entire crew as independent contractors.
The shoot will be a relatively simple one, with only one major location and one studio set, a crew of 10-15 and a small cast.
We will do the budget breakdown and shooting schedule.

We would need the UPM mainly to hire the local crew and work during the shoot that is less than two weeks. We figured 2-3 weeks will do for the UPM.

Last edited by Alienator; 08-08-2012 at 05:04 AM.
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:42 PM   #6
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Don't know laws in California, but having workers considered independent contractors might be tricky in Massachusetts. If you don't have to come back in the future, I doubt they would try and go after you in a foreign country.
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Old 08-10-2012, 09:39 PM   #7
directorik
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In California anyone working on a film work at the producer’s
location under instructions given to them by the producer, in
furtherance of the producer’s objectives, all of which are
characteristics of an employee within most guidelines. So,
technically, a producer must hire their crew.

For a two week shoot a producer can get away with 1099ing
everyone as long as nothing happens and no complaint is filed.
This can be tricky and any lawyer would advise against do it.
Do so knowing the laws.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:50 PM   #8
Dusht
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directorik, your info is always informative and helpful and very much appreciated...

in this situation, where a foreign company is shooting in the US, which taxes would the foreign company be subject to? once the movie is sold to distributors, are the profits subject to tax in the US? or would those be done in the home country?

thank you
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