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in Filmmaking
on Mar 23, 2009

As the clock winds down, members of the New York City film production community are lobbying hard for the continuation of the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit, which has supported a boom in film and television production in New York.

Once financing is in place, film production companies can start on a dime, quickly crewing up and supporting local vendors, restaurants, hotels and other businesses. They often attract investment capital from outside the state and even outside the country, and they are swift tools of job creation. Furthermore, when it comes to television production, these jobs stay within the local economy for years. New York’s tax credit served to turbo-charge the film and television industry in New York; now, its uncertain future is causing production companies to locate their shows in other states that are offering these incentives. Ironically, the early success of the program threatens its future as allocated funding has run out and future funds appearing in the new state budget have yet to be specified.

One of the groups organizing a response is the New York Production Alliance, which is asking all members of the New York fim community to make their voices heard in support of an extension of the credit. It is getting too late for letters. Phone calls to representatives are needed now. On their website they list a number of facts demonstrating both the efficacy and budgetary viability of the program:


I. Program Overview
The Empire State Film Production Tax Credit is 30% of qualified film production expenditures, (crew and vendor costs – no star, producer, writer, director salaries eligible). NYC offers an additional 5% credit on same costs.

II. Overall Production Statistics: 2004 – 09

Total Production Jobs Created/Retained: 165,645
Total Combined NYS and NYC Tax Collections: $2.7 billion
Total Combined NYS and NYC Tax Credits Applied For: $685 million
Credits Remaining: 0

Arguing for the future, the NYPA explains:

The Empire State Film Production Tax Credit started as a pilot program in 2004, limited in funding in its formative years to allow officials to confirm the program could function as intended – to revitalize an industry decimated by domestic and international competition that left NY as a production backwater.

In 2009 what officials have is a catalyst for job creation that puts substantially more money into state and city coffers than are issued in credits. With sufficient future funding the program will continue to expand, diversifying a New York economy faced with an eroding manufacturing base and diminished financial service industry. However, if NY regresses its credit % or places a limit on the number or amount of credits that can be issued, the program’s dramatic gains will be reversed.

At a time when the program is attracting more than $2 billion of production spending on local vendors and workers, and is poised to continue the industry’s growth trajectory, Government opponents of the program seek limits on the program that, if adopted, would drive down production spending down to $500 million, if not less.

Can New York afford another 20,000 plus jobless claims or the $200MM+ in positive tax revenues? The loss of health insurance benefits alone for thousands of workers would be devastating. The farsighted policy decision in this case is simple; restore funding and allow this industry to help fuel New York’s recovery.

I just made all of my calls, and I urge readers of this blog to pick up the phone and make theirs. Here is info provided by the NYPA:

NYPA WANTS YOU to pick up the phone and call Governor David Paterson (518-474-8390), Senate Majority Leader, Malcom Smith (518-455-2701) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (518- 455- 3791) and your NY State Senator and Assembly Representative urging them to authorize continued funding of the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit.

You should also call your State Senator and Assembly Representative. If you don’t know who these people are, you can identify them by typing in your zip code on the NYPA page.

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