Film industry gives Clayton County an economic boost – Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As long as I’m catching up on old stories here, this 2012 article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was recently sent my way, taking a focused look at how the film industry has impacted just one community in the Metro Atlanta area.  It’s worth reading the whole story here:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Film industry gives clayton county an economic boost

Amazing Spider-Man 2 films entirely in New York

Catching up on recent news after a blogging hiatus, I read a great piece by the Location Guide’s Nick Goundry about the New York production of Amazing Spider-Man 2, the only one of Sony’s five Spider-Man movies to film 100% in New York. This is largely due to the tax incentives, as Goundry explains, but no territory can count on incentives alone to attract productions, and New York also offers world-class crew and an established infrastructure on top of its highly desirable locations.

New York’s film production incentive is remarkable for two reasons.  One is that it provides no credit at all for above-the-line expenditures (i.e. actors, producers, directors and writers) instead driving 100% of its economic impact to jobs at the crew and vendor level.  Granted, this wouldn’t work everywhere, since so much above-the-line talent already lives in New York and pays income taxes there, but it makes this program uniquely targeted and effective.

The second unique feature of the New York program is that it absolutely requires a production to build sets and use soundstages in New York if they want to get any  incentive on their “location” filming in New York.  Partly this is because of the conditions before the incentive was passed, where hundreds of films and television programs every year would shoot their iconic locations in Manhattan and then retreat to Toronto or Chicago or Los Angeles for their sound stage work while the stages in New York sat empty.  But it’s also good policy, since sound stages are, for the most part, where the real “bang for the buck” of film production takes place, where crews build sets ranging from houses to space stations, hang lights, prepare green screens and motion capture rigs, and engage in hundreds of other activities related to filmmaking.

As a result, today every sound stage in New York is full.  But the infrastructure in the state is limited.  Amazing Spider-Man 2 needed three separate studio facilities to find somewhere to fit their sets, all three in re-purposed industrial buildings:  Grumman Studios, located in the enormous former lunar module assembly plant in Beth Page, Long Island; Gold Coast Studios, located in former aircraft hangers and also in Beth Page; and the Marcy Armory in Brooklyn.  The only real, designed-and-built-from-the-ground-up studio facility of any note in New York is Steiner Studios, itself made possible by the redevelopment and re-purposing of the Brooklyn Navy Yard where it is located.  Otherwise the high cost of real estate in New York makes it unlikely that any further studios will be developed there to meet the considerable demand.

Read the whole article here:

The Location Guide:  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 films entirely on location in New York

Welcome to the Media Economy Review 2.0

As exactly nobody noticed, the site was on hiatus for the last eight months, as everyone involved has been busy on other pursuits.  Visitation has fallen to zero, naturally, though there’s been some visitors to the Research Library, especially since another website that used to provide a good source for all of the reports and studies was recently taken down by its owner.  We promise an update on that front shortly: we’ve been gathering all the 2013 data and final reports so we can get them posted.  Providing easy access to reliable sources of real information is the primary reason this website was created in the first place.

We have some new writers to introduce soon, as well as some other new features. We hope to once again attract a few readers and spark a lively, rational, fact-based policy debate about the pros and cons of film production tax incentives, how they work and how they can be the most effective, what impacts they actually create, and how they fit into the broader context of government incentives for industrial and economic development. There are many interesting recent stories to catch up on, so let’s get started!

Charlotte Regional Film Commission fights to keep cameras rolling in North Carolina

As long as we’re talking about North Carolina today, this article from another local paper comes to my attention with some interesting statistics:

“What puts us on the radar screen are the film incentives for North Carolina,” [Charlotte Regional Film Commission director Beth] Petty said. “It’s so important that we have those. That’s what brings in the big shows like ‘The Hunger Games.’”…

“The Hunger Games” alone added $60 million into the local economy, Petty said, including 21,000 hotel nights and the hiring of 300 construction workers who built sets.

Since 2007, production companies have pumped $1 billion into North Carolina, the lion’s share going toward paying for local labor such as electricians, carpenters, drivers, seamstresses and camera operators….

Later there’s this quote from a local business owner:

Shane Smith, owner of A Tasteful Solution catering company, said things like feeding the crews that created two Hallmark movies in the Winston-Salem region have come to account for between 15 and 25 percent of his business. They’ve also caused him to hire more chefs and delivery people.

North Carolina’s film production incentive sunsets at the end of 2014, but the state legislature doesn’t officially resume business in Raleigh until May 14, 2014.

Read the whole thing:

Huntersville Herald: Film Commission fights to keep cameras rolling

Film incentive shows tourism impact in North Carolina

The Wilmington Star News this morning reports on the tourism impact that the film production incentive has had on one North Carolina town:

“In 2013, tourism visitors to the museum [the Maritime Museum of Southport] has been 50 percent higher than the year before,” said museum manager Mary Strickland. “Movie and TV show filming in the area has contributed to our boost in numbers…When people saw the film ‘Safe Haven’ they wanted to come to Southport to see where it was shot. Inevitably, they ended up in our museum as they looked around the town.”

Strickland said that now that “Under the Dome” has filmed in Southport, the museum has seen even more visitors who want the full Southport/Under the Dome experience as well.

There’s more, including thoughts on the film incentive from city councilors, at the link:

Star-News Online: Southport museum project advances as board lauds film tourism

Forget Kickstarter: How Obama’s New Law Could Change Hollywood Crowd-Funding

The Hollywood Reporter has an interesting story about a law signed last year called the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (nice acronym), which goes into effect in September. The law lifted “depression-era restrictions on how fledging businesses raise money” in the hopes of boosting the economy, and it could change the way filmmakers crowd-fund their movie projects. Is “equity crowd-funding” the way of the future? Read reporter Paul Bond’s story here:

Forget Kickstarter: How Obama’s New Law Could Change Hollywood Crowd-Funding

NM: Governor Signs Bill Boosting TV Incentives

At a ceremony at the University of New Mexico today, Gov. Susana Martinez signed a comprehensive tax bill that included the so-called “Breaking Bad” provision increasing tax credits for television series.

The film bill started out as its own piece of legislation in the House and the Senate. But after it was passed, then vetoed by Martinez on the day before the session ended, it was revived by its sponsor, Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, and became part of a complex and comprehensive tax bill that passed in the final seconds of the session on March 15.

The bi-partisan popularity of the film bill helped those efforts, said Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming. He heads the powerful Senate Finance Committee and is a fiscal conservative who has often criticized the film tax credits.

“My concern with this is, with 47 states offering film credits, we’re going to be a rest stop on the way to the next credit rather than [gaining] the stability and permanency we’d love to have,” Smith said at the bill-signing ceremony. “That being said, I also recognized immediately the appetite for the film credit on the House side and it created a great vehicle to attach a little amendment to.”

That “little amendment” has sparked outcries by some legislators that sweeping changes, such as slashing the corporate tax rate and phasing out reimbursements to local governments, were pushed through at the last minute, preventing lawmakers from evaluating the legislation.

Martinez spent little time on the film component of the legislation before signing the bill, but noted that it “preserves the predictability of the budget cap while giving a larger incentive to longer term TV productions that shoot in New Mexico.” She called the entire package of legislation a “game changer” that makes New Mexico more competitive. That same word was used several weeks ago by Mary Ann Hughes, vice president of film and television production planning for Walt Disney Studios, an interview with the Albuquerque Journal.

Hughes is a leader in Hollywood in comparing incentives globally, said Jason Hool, president of Santa Fe Studios.

“Everyone looks to her, so if she says it’s a game changer, it’s a game changer,” Hool said.

His facility is currently full, although he could not release information on the productions, but they include films and television shows.

Rick Clemente, CEO of I-25 Studios, said his facility has seen “an enormous uptick in activity” since bill was introduced in the legislature.

“I’m booked through the summer with four feature films right now,” he said. “I think our biggest problem in the recent past was the perception that the state was not interested in the business or not interested in pursuing it and we turned that completely around.”

Wayne Rauschenberger, COO of Albuquerque Studios, said he has received several calls from productions confirming the holds they put on some of his stages and also got several inquiries from studios that have been there previously. ABQ Studios* hosted productions such as “Terminator Salvation” and “The Avengers,” as well as “Breaking Bad.”

The New Mexico Film Office announced this week that “A Million Ways to Die in the West” starring Seth McFarland, Charlize Theron and Sarah Silverman will film here. The A&E series “Longmire” is in production in and around Santa Fe. “The Homesman” starring Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank is also in production around Santa Fe and Las Vegas. Forest Whitaker is in southern New Mexico this week shooting “Enemy Way.”

The new law allows TV series shooting at least six episodes and with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode to get a rebate of 30 percent on qualified expenditures, up from 25 percent. That same boost applies to expenditures on New Mexico resident crew for feature films with budgets up to $30 million that shoot at least 10 days in studio facilities in the state, and on feature films with budget of more than $30 million that shoot in studio facilities in the state for at least 15 days.

The law also allows unused credits to roll over to the next year if the $50 million annual cap on film credits was not reached. That is limited to $10 million annually with a three-year sunset provision. The law also allows productions to assign their anticipated credit to banks or other financing groups and thus get upfront financing for a film. And productions will have to make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state. Also, some non-resident crew expenses are rebatable, but only if a production made reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it made financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.

Joseph Chianese, senior vice president with Entertainment Partners, which tracks incentives around the world, said the law gives New Mexico a significant advantage.

“It makes it a destination for television,” he said.

Supporters pushed for the provision because they said TV series stay longer and spend more money locally. At the moment, almost no other states have incentives geared specifically to TV, he added. Although New York recently expanded its definition of qualified expenditures to lure more kinds of television shows and extended its incentives out to 2019 (they had been set to sunset at the end of 2014, he said). It’s one reason “The Tonight Show” and “America’s Got Talent” are leaving L.A. and headed for the Big Apple.

The United Kingdom is also boosting incentives for television, Chianese said. He predicts that California will be the big loser in all this. Worldwide, some countries are extremely aggressive in courting productions. Australia is giving Disney a $20.7 million incentive to shoot the remake of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” down under, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

*(Full Disclosure: Albuquerque Studios is the primary financial backer of this website, however it does not have editorial control over my content.)

Megan Kamerick is a veteran reporter who has covered the film and media industry in New Mexico for many years.




Visualizing the Gallivan proposal for increased incentives in upstate New York

Earlier this year, New York State Senator Patrick M. Gallivan introduced S. 498, which would increase the New York State film production tax credit in upstate New York on a sliding scale. Senator Gallivan, who represents the Buffalo/Western New York area, was understandably upset when the Lionsgate production of a feature film called Draft Day, originally written about the Buffalo Bills, was re-written for the Cleveland Browns and relocated its production to Cleveland, taking with it hundreds of jobs and over $20 million in projected spending.

Senator Gallivan’s original bill proposed a four tier system, which would retain the current 30% in New York City, where more than 86% of the current production work in the State is located, and provide increases to 35% in nine down-state counties that are close to New York City; 40% in the eight counties of the capitol region; and 45% in the rest of the state. The text of the bill is here. According to a press release issued on March 27, 2013, the final state budget is expected to include a modified version of this proposal, but with only a two-tier system, providing 40% in upstate and western New York, but keeping the rest of the state, including the capitol region and the nine down-state counties, at the current 30%.

Since long lists of county names can be hard to get a grip on, the Media Economy Review created a handy map to help readers visualize and understand the geography of the two versions of this proposal. You can view the map here.

NM: Governor Promises To Sign Bill With Increased TV Incentives

The “Breaking Bad” bill has been reborn.

An omnibus tax bill that includes increased incentives for television series passed the New Mexico Legislature at the 11th hour and Gov. Susana Martinez has promised to sign it, despite her veto the day before of the original TV incentive bill.

I support the film industry,” Martinez said in a news conference. “I wish the veto had not been necessary, but it’s my job as governor to create an environment where jobs can grow across the board.”

Martinez said she will sign the bill and will also sign the budget bill “despite deficiencies.”

This will avoid the need for a special session, and that’s good for everybody, including New Mexico taxpayers,” she said.

The bill was revived by sponsor Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, House majority whip, as HB 641 after the original bill, HB 379 was vetoed by Martinez, but in her veto message she indicated she was willing to compromise if the bill was part of a larger tax reform package.

The provisions of the TV show tax credit were amended into the corporate tax cut in the final minutes of the session, according to a spokesperson for the Senate Republicans. The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent over a five year phase-in.

The bill boosts the 25 percent tax rebate on qualified production expenditures to 30 percent for television series shooting at least six episodes in the state with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode. It would also extend that boost to feature films provided the productions meet certain budget thresholds and use studio facilities in the state for a specified period of time. Also, the extra rebate for films is only applicable to New Mexico crew expenses.

The bill also allows up to $10 million in credits to roll over to the following year if the credits paid out do not reach the $50 million annual cap. It specifies that productions shall make “reasonable efforts” to contract with vendors that have a physical presence in the state. And it allows for some non-resident crew expenses to be rebated, but only if a production makes reasonable efforts to hire resident crew and it makes financial or in-kind contributions toward workforce development or education programs.


NM: House Passes Reincarnated TV Incentives Bill

The New Mexico House has passed the resurrected “Breaking Bad” bill and it now moves on to the Senate Corporations Committee.

Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque and the House majority whip, introduced the bill on March 15 after his original legislation, HB 379, was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez.

HB 641 is a replica of HB 379. It boosts the 25 percent tax rebate on qualified production expenditures to 30 percent for television series shooting at least six episodes in the state with a budget of at least $50,000 per episode. It would also extend that boost to feature films provided the productions meet certain budget thresholds and use studio facilities in the state for a specified period of time. Also, the extra rebate for films is only applicable to New Mexico crew expenses.

The bill has been nicknamed for the TV series set and filmed in Albuquerque. Supporters have pushed for the legislation arguing that series stay longer and spend more money than feature films. Martinez said in her veto message that she was open to compromise if the film bill was part of larger package of comprehensive tax legislation.

The legislative session ends at noon on March 16.