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in Filmmaking
on Feb 28, 2009

News this week about the New York State Film and Television Tax Credit program, which is currently in a kind of limbo now that the funding allocated for it by the State has unexpectedly run out just ten months in a multi-year program. First, there was an article in the New York Post by Tom Topousis that reported that Governor Patterson’s office has indicated that it will seek additional funding for the program. The article included these two intriguing paragraphs:

Marissa Lago, president of the Empire State Development Corp., told a breakfast meeting of the Association for a Better New York that she’s been meeting with industry leaders to help figure out a new way to structure the incentives.

But Lago would not be specific about the amount of funding, or what types of film and TV production it might cover.

This is the first news reporting I’ve read that the terms of the tax credit may be revised as part of any additional funding.

Then, late last night an article by Sam Thielman appeared in Variety that offered more details. From the piece:

Empire State Development execs are hoping to salvage New York’s depleted Empire State Film Production Tax Credit program by floating a number of options, including scaling back dollar value of the incentives offered to bring film and TV productions to the state.

Empire State Development prexy Marisa Lago pitched a stripped-down version of New York’s depleted Empire State Film Production Tax Credit program to the business org Assn. for a Better New York at a breakfast meeting on Thursday at the New York Hilton.

The program, which is said to be “suffering from its own success,” would be reduced from a 30% below-the-line tax break to a 20% break, and it would cap refunds at $100 million a year, Lago suggested. The revised version would also be evenly distributed between TV, feature, and indie film productions.

The article goes on to note that N.Y. State AFL-CIO president will be heading a press conference at Kaufman/Astoria studios on the set of Life on Mars urging the Governor to continue the credit program.

If the credit is capped, in order for indies, whose financing often comes together at the last minute, to continue taking advantage of it, there will need to be some kind of “even distribution” to make sure that TV production doesn’t suck up all the allocated funds.

The article also notes one competitive shot across New York’s bow that might inspire legislators to move quickly:

The clock is ticking on the New York incentive’s ability to retain and attract TV shows, pilots, and films. Calfornia’s just-approved 20% tax incentive will take effect in July, and that program offers a 5% sweetener to attract runaways from other states.

More as it develops…

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