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N.Y. mayor boosts city film office

Making good on a promise to jump-start New York’s faltering film location business, Mayor David Dinkins doubled the budget of the city Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, and gave its director, Richard Brick, full commissioner status.

The announcement was part of Dinkins’ annual state of the city address delivered at City Hall Monday.

Although Dinkins didn’t reveal how much the budget increase amounts to, it was clearly a significant gesture by the mayor, who faces a huge budget gap this year. But Dinkins noted in his speech that the industry once poured $ 3 billion into the economy, and he wants that revenue back.

Brick is taking full advantage, since much of the budget increase is guaranteed for one year only. He plans to modernize the office, upgrade phone systems and bring in computers to process permits. They were done by electric typewriter, wasting the time of a staff already stretched thin.

The city also will create a printed brochure and a promotional video to concentrate on the good things it has to offer filmmakers. Though he wouldn’t get specific, Brick indicated it will be done more creatively than the average industrial film.

“There are 250 Oscar winners who live in New York, people like Mike Nichols, Robert Benton, Dustin Hoffman,” said Brick. “I intend to call on some of them, and in some way get them to contribute to this video. So many of these people care and want to shoot here, and this is an appropriate vehicle to get them to talk about why.”

Dinkins also significantly increased budget lines for advertising and travel, which, Brick feels, is crucial to wooing new business.

“We have to get out the word that there is a new attitude, and that the industry here is more friendly than ever,” said Brick. “The economic playing field is leveling, and more steps will be taken. With this budget authorization I will be able to be at the Toronto, Berlin and Cannes festivals and the trade shows spreading the word.”

New York seems poised for a resurgence. A new three-year deal has been agreed on between studios and Teamsters Local 817. Those negotiations seemed perilously close to falling apart after a tentative agreement had been reached in December, but the studios finally backed off on some additional demands. Films like Universal’s “Carlito’s Way” are expected to come to town this spring. MGM’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” directed by Fred Schepisi, is also exploring shooting entirely in New York.

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