The boom in film and TV lensing during the past 10 years in New York City has been undeniable. Now Mayor Bill de Blasio and film commissioner Julie Menin are honing the focus to ensure that the wealth spreads throughout the city, by promoting what de Blasio called programs “to make this a five-borough industry that reaches every kind of New Yorker.”
De Blasio and Menin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, unveiled Wednesday an initiative to distribute 1,000 free tickets to Broadway shows and another 1,000 movie tickets to residents of public housing in the city. That effort to increase access to the arts is part of a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of what was the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting.
To herald New York’s continued push to expand its footprint in media and entertainment, de Blasio and Menin unveiled five “ambassadors” for the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment — Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Alicia Keys, John Leguizamo and Lady Gaga. All but Gaga were on hand for the news conference Wednesday at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens.
De Niro joked that he now wants to be referred to as “his excellency, Robert De Niro, ambassador.” Or perhaps to make it more true to NYC: “His f—ing excellency. … You got a problem with that?”
De Blasio noted that under Menin, the office has expanded to include oversight of advertising, publishing and digital content.
“The sky’s the limit in all these areas,” de Blasio said. Film and TV specifically employ about 130,000 in the city, an all-time high.
“These are really good-paying jobs,” he said. “They exist in great numbers in this industry.”
De Blasio and Menin emphasized the focus on increasing the diversity of employment in media and entertainment. There is a growing effort to tie the availability of local and state tax credits to productions that have substantial involvement from women and minorities.
Menin said there was no such effort under way for the city, which no longer offers a direct tax incentive for production (that coin comes from the state), but rather gives local productions marketing support. MOME is close to unveiling two big diversity initiatives designed to increase the “pipeline” of projects spearheaded by women and minorities but she would not elaborate.
Menin cited stats that show the media and entertainment sector has outpaced finance and insurance employment in the city. About 385,000 people are employed across film, TV, theater, music advertising, publishing and digital, compared to about 334,000 in finance and insurance.
Breaking it down further, Menin said the music biz accounted for about 75,000 jobs; Broadway accounted for 89,000 jobs and advertising about 80,000.
Film and TV production has jumped some 53% in the past 10 years, Menin said. Scripted TV series production has climbed 15% in just one year, to 52 scripted series from 47 in 2015.
When then-Mayor John Lindsay launched the film office in 1966, it was the first of its kind in the country. That year, 11 movies were shot in the city.
Last year that number spiked to 336. The total economic contribution from film and TV alone is estimated at $8.7 billion, a big leap from $20 million in 1966, de Blasio said. Broadway and other theater generates an estimated $12.5 billion in economic activity for the city, Menin said.
Menin unveiled a host of events planned throughout the year to mark the 50th anniversary of MOME with an eye toward expanding access to the arts throughout the city. Among the events planned:
- ‘Movies Under the Stars’ Decades Screenings: As part of the ‘Movies Under the Stars’ series, in partnership with the NYC Parks & Recreation Department, MOME is bringing 300 free film screenings to parks across NYC this summer, and will hold an additional 10 special pop-up events (two in each borough) featuring iconic films from each decade beginning in the 1960s. These screenings of films including West Side Story, The Wiz, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and I Am Legendwill feature special guest appearances, family-friendly activities and giveaways.
- Variety Talks:“Made in NY” and Variety will present a series of free talks throughout the year with directors, producers and A-list talent from the worlds of television and film. These conversations, which will be moderated by Variety reporters, will focus on the role the city of New York has played over the years on the big and small screen. For those not in New York, these interviews will be available to watch on Variety.com.
- Ghetto Film School ‘The Roster’ Events: Ghetto Film School’s newest initiative, The Roster, is proud to partner with MOME on a series of events to promote diverse early career talent in the entertainment and media industry here in New York City, including programing during Independent Film Week and a showcase featuringEmpirecreator and renowned director Lee Daniels in Fall 2016.
- PaleyFest –Made in NY: MOME will sponsor the Paley Center for Media’s fourth-annual PaleyFest, the ultimate TV fan festival giving audiences up-close, insider experiences with their favorite stars and creators of today’s biggest “Made in NY” TV shows through special screenings and cast discussions. Kicking off on October 6, 2016, MOME will support free access for New Yorkers to the festival’s viewing room.
- Summer Streets: In partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation’s ‘Summer Streets’ initiative – opening 7 miles of NYC streets for people to play, run, walk and bike during 3 Saturdays in August – MOME and NY On Location will be hosting free film walking tours, highlighting iconic films “Made in NY.
- “Made in NY” Talks: MOME will build upon its partnership with The Center for Communication with additional “Made in NY” Talks, a free panel series geared towards college students and individuals interested in careers in media and entertainment. There will be 10 panels over the course of the year, focusing on themes including media & tech; news in the 21stcentury; media and civil rights; and podcast production.
- ESPN 30 for 30: MOME and ESPN will co-present a free community screening of the newest30 for 30 film, “Doc & Darryl.” The event will take place on June 28 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens and will feature a moderated discussion and audience Q&A with co-director Michael Bonfiglio and other specials guests to be confirmed.
- New York Comedy Festival: MOME will partner with the NY Comedy Festival to present ‘master classes,’ in which prominent New York comedians will return to their public high schools to speak with current students about topics including what it means to be a comedian, how they got their start, and challenges they’ve faced in their careers. There will be one event in each borough, and each event will be recorded to air on NYC Media.
- Industry Talks at Museum of the Moving Image: Starting in Fall 2016, MOME will co-present special “Made in NY” afternoon events at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, featuring conversations with leading film and TV industry professionals on the first Friday of each month—during which time admittance to MOMI is free and open to the public.
- Turner Classic Movies Presents an evening of Made in NY Films: On July 21, 2016, Turner Classic Movies will feature a night of on-air programming highlighting classic ‘Made in NY’ films, including Saturday Night Fever, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and Dog Day Afternoon. Commissioner Menin will join TCM host Ben Mankiewicz as a guest programmer to discuss the films, the current state of the City’s film industry and the iconic locations that set New York City’s filmmaking history apart.