'Made in NY' program a victim of its own success

The recent boom in New York City film production might be more than even the Big Apple can handle.

Launched Jan. 3, 2005 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the “Made in NY” program sought to boost the city’s then-slumping film activity and stem runaway production by offering a 5% tax credit, in addition to a 10% state credit and other benefits, to all films that stage at least 75% of their shooting within the five boroughs.  The result was a banner year for Gotham, as participating features like “The Producers” and “Inside Man” helped post record revenues.

The problem? The program might have worked too well. Less than a year and a half after incentives began, the city has reached the $50 million limit allocated to the initiative.

“Productions which shoot in New York can still take advantage of the state’s 10% tax credit,” says Katherine Oliver, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting. “Mayor Bloomberg supports a continuation of the program, and the next state legislative session will determine its future.”

Applications are still being accepted for the 5% credit, although it is unclear when or if the city’s coffers will be refilled.

Nonetheless, the tax credit has sparked a surge in New York filmmaking:

  • 2005 saw over 250 films, 100 television productions, and 1,050 commercials shot in New York.  This represents a sharp increase in film acticity from 202 in 2004, and 180 in 2003.

  • Total location shooting days rose 35% from 2004 to an all-time high of 31,570.

  • According to a recent study, the program has generated $1.5 billion in new economic activity, bringing Gotham’s total annual revenue for film production to more than $5 billion.

  • 10,000 new jobs have been created since 2005. “They are all full-time equivalent positions created by the tax credit, most of which are based in New York City,” says Oliver.

  • Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios opened for production in 2004, boasting 285,000 square feet of soundstage space, and the largest single stage in the city (27,000 sq. ft.). The total amount of soundstage space in the city now stands at more than 900,000 sq. ft., with Steiner competitor Silvercup Studios planning to complete a 350,000 sq. ft. annex to its Queens facility by 2008.

While the City waits to learn the future of the tax incentive, a “Made in NY” certification still offers a number of benefits:

  • Free permits and concierge service on location;

  • Discounts at 465 local merchants;

  • A marketing credit of 1% of the production’s below-the-line budget, providing free advertising on bus shelters, public spaces and NYC Media Group Assets.

Who said New Yorkers aren’t hospitable?

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