At the shoot (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)
Working in this industry for over two decades, I’ve seen what it takes for a viral television show or blockbuster film to be made. While people normally consider the creatives of the film industry — actors, writers, and producers — there are thousands of jobs, just like mine, behind the scenes that help small and large-scale productions go off without a hitch. While the film industry itself employs tens of thousands of people in New York, the larger, parallel ecosystem that helps these glamorous productions run like a well-oiled machine, employs even more.
Part of what has helped build film and TV production into a multi-billion-dollar industry in New York is the New York Film Tax Credit program, which incentivizes production companies to invest in New York by choosing to film here. Over the past few decades, this program has been critical in creating quality jobs for New Yorkers, jobs that are largely unionized, high paying, and many do not require a four-year degree. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that state government in Albany pass Governor Hochul’s film tax credit expansion, as it will help to support tens of thousands of high-quality jobs that New Yorkers need.
Research from the New York Production Alliance and NYU Wagner’s Rubin Center for Transportation Policy and Management highlights how directly the economic impacts of New York’s film industry have been tied to the Empire State Film Production Tax Credit program.
Prior to the credit’s introduction in 2004, New York struggled to keep up with competition from other states and countries offering lower costs for film production. But from 2004-2018, statewide wage-and-salary employment in film and TV production rose by 52.3%, resulting in an increase of 17,000 jobs. With an increased demand for such roles as the sector has grown in the state, Governor Hochul’s tax credit plan also allocates funds to maintain and expand the high-quality workforce we have here in New York, including career development programs to make film sets reflect the diversity of New York.
Additionally, the enactment of the tax credit helped to pave the way for increased investment in production facilities, both old and new. This has resulted in the creation of over 6,000 jobs (both direct and indirect) in 2019-2022 alone.
As these tax credits offset the higher costs of these productions, they also result in direct investment in the communities in which they film. This supports the hundreds of small businesses and jobs that exist in order to keep the productions up and running. From restaurants that cater meals to supplies to build sets, there are many necessities for the film industry to execute projects.
I’ve seen how resilient the New York City film industry is in the darkest days our city has lived through. While many industries in 2008 saw a downturn, film went up over 50%. While Hurricane Sandy temporarily halted production and live audience filming, the industry came back stronger than ever less than a week after it made landfall. Most recently, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept people apart for months, film came back earlier than a number of other industries, thanks to the implementation of extensive health and safety protocols. But, none of this happened overnight, and it is attributed to thousands of New Yorkers across the film industry that supported one another, bringing entertainment to those around the country and the world.
State leaders: let’s not let the curtain go down on an industry that has brought such economic and cultural value to our state.
Flo Mitchell-Brown is the Head of Industry Engagement at Extreme Reach and the chair of the New York Production Alliance. On Twitter @NYPAnys.