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State Film Commissions Guide: New York

State Film Commissions Guide: New York

What are some of the greatest financial perks of filming in your state?
A number of industry-friendly initiatives championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo– including long term extensions of funding and additional credit “bumps” for Upstate (see below)—to New York State’s highly popular production and post production tax credits are now making New York State even more attractive to producers working on films both large and small. 

In addition to the aggressive tax credits and supportive policies of the Cuomo administration, many filmmakers are finding that the large pool of production talent and resources across New York State make it more cost effective to shoot here than in some states where people and equipment have to be imported to get the job done right. And that’s not just in New York City; upstate hubs like Rochester, Buffalo and Albany are home to robust communities of experienced local filmmakers, vendors and grip companies where prices for goods and services are lower and communities and locations are more welcoming.

What tax credits are available for productions in your state?

• The New York State Film Production credit currently offers a fully refundable 30 percent tax credit on almost all below-the-line expenditures. In April 2013, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation extending funding for this highly popular credit at $420M a year through 2019 and eliminated the 75 percent threshold for post production costs so that a film qualifying for the production credit can include any of its post work in New York State regardless of the amount. Also beginning in 2015, the legislation includes an additional 10 percent credit on qualified production and post production labor costs in select Upstate counties. 

• The New York State Post Production credit is for films & TV shows that film outside of New York State but come here to do their post production. Currently, productions can get a fully refundable 30 percent credit on qualified New York State post production expenses if they post downstate or 35 percent if they post upstate (outside the Metropolitan Transportation Commuter District). And as noted above, the film credit also adds an additional 10 percent uplift on qualified New York State labor costs in select upstate counties.

In addition, Gov. Cuomo signed legislation treating visual effects (VFX) and animation costs separately from all other post production costs. VFX and animation costs qualify for the post credit if either 20 percent of the total VFX or animation budget or $3 million (whichever is lower) of all such costs are incurred in New York State. 

• Sales Tax Exemption – Many costs for items used or consumed directly in a film or TV production are exempt from New York State sales tax; for information see “A Guide to Sales Tax for the Film

What are some of the locations in your state that filmmakers should know about?
Everybody knows New York City, the most photographed big city in the world! But did you know New York State is also home to the largest wilderness preserve in the United States outside of Alaska – the Adirondack Mountains? Castles and canals, waterfalls and factories–from the picturesque small towns of the Hudson Valley, to the rolling farms and vineyards of the Finger Lakes, from the lighthouses of Long Island to the roaring waters of Niagara Falls, New York State has a wealth of natural beauty, historic architecture and urban landscapes that attract filmmakers from all over the world.

Are there studios and soundstages that the state hosts that filmmakers should know about?
There are at least 70 production facilities in New York State with sound stages over 7000 square feet – and 33 of those are outside New York City in places like Rochester, Buffalo and the Hudson Valley. Plus there are hundreds more with stages for smaller productions, commercials, music videos, etc.

What can you tell us about talented labor in your state? Do you have robust union representation?
New York crews are widely known as the best in the business: experienced in all types and size production, from huge studio blockbusters to first-time indies shooting on a shoestring. New York unions and guilds offer flexible contracts for all levels of production, and the large presence of local resident talent working both in front of and behind the camera – starting with the huge pool in New York City of working actors thanks to Broadway & Off Broadway – means producers can find whatever, and whomever, they need in New York State.

Are there deals that you have with equipment, craft service or other suppliers to make these services more affordable?
he New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting offers the “Made In NY Discount Card” that provides discounts and special offers when presented to the more than 1,000 vendors currently participating in New York City. For information visit the website.

What are some of the recent productions that produced films in your state?
New York State has played host to everything from Hollywood megafilms like “Men in Black 3”, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “The Bourne Legacy” – recent big productions include “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” with Ben Stiller & Kristen Wiig, “Winter’s Tale” also with Russell Crowe, Will Smith and Colin Farrell – to prestigious indies including “Black Swan”,”Taking Woodstock”, “Blue Caprice” and the Coen brother’s latest Cannes winner, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

What cities have their own film commissions in your state?
Albany, Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Yonkers; Regions/Counties: Hudson Valley Film Commission, Nassau County Film Office, Orange County, Suffolk County Film Office, Westchester County Film Office.

How many productions shot in your state last year?
133 film and television projects participated in the New York State Film Production Credit program and filmed in New York State.

What should filmmakers do if they’re interested in shooting a film in your state? Who should they contact if they have more questions?
Please contact the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture & Television Development at (212) 803-2330 or email us at nyfilm@esd.ny.gov.

Interested in the incentives offered by other state film commissions? Check out Indiewire’s full guide to state film commissions HERE.

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