When people think of filmmaking, they often think of Los Angeles. Sound stages are littered all across the city, filming some of the hottest television shows and films. In many respects, Los Angeles symbolizes show business. But the times have changed. Thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting, filming in New York City has, for the time being, become easier. With the implementation of tax-incentive programs like “Made In NY”, major TV productions like “Ugly Betty” and “Gossip Girl” have shunned Los Angeles in favor of the Big Apple.
The first film commission in the country, The Mayor’s Office has become a trailblazer in creating programs that encourage film and television productions to shoot in the city. Made in NY is one such program. It offers a plethora of tax credits and discounts to productions that film 75% of their production in NYC. “We have a “Made In NY” scholarship fund. It’s awarded to students attending New York City College of Technology who are pursuing a baccalaureate degree in the Entertainment Technology field.” Mayor’s Office Press Agent Marybeth Ihle said, in an e-mail. ” It’s a $5,000 scholarship each year, covering their full tuition and fees and it’s made possible by a generous donation from Teamsters Local 817 to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.”
Other programs include a free month-long P.A. training program which teaches people how to work on a set and prepares them for industry jobs. Similarly, Made In NY offers a mentorship program that recruits people of color, women or any disadvantage and pairs them with a career coach that will place them in jobs.
Unfortunately, these programs might not last forever. Thanks to that pesky recession, funding for these programs have become in limbo. On the front page of The Mayor’s Office’s website, it says, “As of Tuesday, June 30, 2009, New York City’s “Made in NY” tax credit for qualified film and television production…has reached its full allocation of $192.5 million and funds are no longer available for new applications.” Oops! Naturally, the agency is asking for an extension on the program. However, it’s not clear whether an extension will be granted.
In the meantime, the agency might have to do a “makeover” on its famous free permits and start, y’know, charging. The 5% tax incentive is a thing of the past and now people are hoping to get 4%, if anything. A proposal has also been made in which productions might be charged every time they shoot in a city building.
Does this mean “Bye Bye, New York. Hello, random soundstage in Hollywood?” Not exactly. “You can’t beat shooting in NYC. The Mayor’s Office has tried to make it as easy as they can for us to shoot here,” An anonymous P.A. said. ” But we work around the limitations. They didn’t want us to shoot this scene with a helicopter because of noise so we just moved the location four blocks away and did it anyway.”