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New effort to boost film - Pol backs incentive for movie crews to stay local

After seeing New York filmmakers leave for neighboring states and Los Angeles to complete their projects, Councilmember David Yassky is proposing additional tax credits to keep post-production work in the city that so many people in the film industry call home.

Yassky’s resolutions include a bill to expand an existing film production tax credit passed in 2005 and to create a new credit for post production work.

“Film jobs are good jobs, but we’re losing them to other states,” Yassky said. “It’s become cheaper to shoot New York on a set in Los Angeles than to actually film here.”

The post production component, a 10 percent tax credit, has drawn the most attention because new facilities including Deluxe New York in the West Village, should make it attractive for local filmmakers to finish work on their projects in the city instead of flying to Los Angeles to utilize studio space there.

Post production consists of the sound, editing, digital effects and film scoring added after the primary shooting of a movie has been completed. Filmmakers will work with actors in production studios to record the dialogue into the picture after a scene has been shot on location, since ambient sounds from the street may interfere with the scene and the actors’ dialogues are often not recorded by sound editors.

“Although post production work is predominately based in Los Angeles, New York has a longer history of editing than Hollywood, and has a high-skilled post-production workforce that holds a national reputation for excellence,” said Paul Moore of the Motion Pictures Editors Guild. “Our goal is to attract work in post production for the many jobs that shoot in other states and to encourage those companies to finish their projects in New York.”

The initial tax credit that Yassky backed three years ago has generated $600 million and over 6,000 new jobs in the city’s economy, according to estimates from the mayor’s office. New York State has since tripled its own film production tax credit, resulting in an increase in shooting days in the city by 84 percent. Yassky has proposed to triple this existing tax credit from 5 percent to 15 percent.

“In tough times, we’ve got to make every city dollar count for more,” Yassky said. “This is about using the city’s tax code to stimulate growth and diversify our economy. An expanded production credit could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the city’s economy and create thousands of new, good paying jobs.”

Several New York-based actors who appeared with Yassky at the City Hall press conference stressed that the film and television productions shot in New York not only support actors but also union construction workers, carpenters, caterers, lighting and sound engineers, and other workers in the industry.

“These are regular folks who rely on these jobs to send their kids to school and put food on the table,” said actor Bobby Carnivale.

The bills hold particular resonance to Williamsburg and Fort Greene residents where many films are shot on location and to industry professionals who utilize Steiner Studios (15 Washington Avenue) on a frequent basis.

“So many of my constituents who live in my district are camera operators, editors, sound technicians and other laborers,” Yassky said. “When there’s a filming shot in the neighborhood, the income that it generates has a huge impact.”

Moore, who most recently completed work on the Coen Brothers’ latest film, “Burn After Reading,” has used Steiner Studios for several productions in the past.

“I know the members of my local enjoy it,” Moore said. “Where else can you drive, park in a safe and secure spot, and go to work?”

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