Is New York
The New Hollywood?

By Art Bodner


New York is hot hot hot these days, and we are not talking about the weather.  Just about everyone is talking about the incredible increase in Film and TV production the city has witnessed over the last couple of years. One can call it a bona fide renaissance.  New York has always had its’ share of production business.  Its’ unique personality and locations, its’ qualified and experienced crews and its’ many iconic landmarks have always been a calling card. But something changed. In 2004, NY began a 30% tax credit for qualified productions that shot 75% of their project in NY.  And as they say the rest is history.
The City (and State) are seeing a record number of productions.  Feature Films, episodic TV, and Broadcast are all finding their way back to NY. Currently there are 25 primetime episodic shows being filmed in the five boroughs, along with cable variety and talk shows, and that number keeps growing.  With The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon moving it's headquarters to NY, the momentum continues and the numbers are staggering.
TV production jobs have grown 76% since 2002, and it is estimated that production is contributing over 8 billion dollars to the local economy.  This is not just money going over to paid celebrities; this is real income for real working folks.  Carpenters, lighting technicians, hair and make-up and more are just a small part of the army of craftspeople supported by the industry. Facilities there are seeing the benefit as well.  Kaufmann Studios, home to such shows as Nurse Jackie and Sesame Street, is planning to create an outdoor studio to accommodate to demand. Other large NY studios like Steiner Studios and Silvercup Studios also have seen increased demand, and are looking to expand as well.
In the past, New York was primarily a draw for film projects, not episodic TV. But this is changing and more and more top talent writers, directors and actors are making NY home. There were a number of shows that were like love letters to NY such as Sex and the City and Gossip Girl.  Alan Suna, CEO of Silvercup Studios where these shows were produced, says that this changing demographic is having a positive impact on the business.  In addition to the iconic locations like Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, this expanded talent pool is attracting even more work to the city.
Sex and the City and Gossip Girl
So the city seems to be firing on all cylinders.  Feature Films, 1 hour dramas, comedies, broadcast, and cable: it’s all happening in NY.  And the city seems intent on keeping the momentum going. They have approved their tax credits until 2019.  They have also expanded their credits for post-production, and the reports from post houses there are comparable to the production facilities, that is business is booming. Also the city has help fund a new media center slated to open in Brooklyn in October. Set up as an incubator, and cross pollinator of old media, new media, design, advertising, branding and more this new venture is set to explore the boundaries of the next generation of story tellers and how that will impact the future business models.
These days everyone seems to want a piece of the production business.  New York is not alone in their success, Georgia, Louisiana, and others have been grabbing a piece of the production pie. The sleeping giant in this story is of course Los Angeles, the still undisputed leader of the world wide Film and TV industry.  However, their inability to get their political leadership to compete with those snapping at their heels has caused disastrous results.  In recent years, the California Film and Television industry has seen a huge decline. From 85% of the television episodes down to 40%, of 12 big budget summer movies only 1 shot in California, and feature film production has dropped nearly 60% in the last 15 years.  But things have started to change on the West Coast. In 2009 they passed their own tax credit, which has had a positive effect. Unlike NY’s 425 million, and Louisiana’s unlimited cap, California has only managed to slate 100 million a year.  There is a move underfoot to increase these caps and reclaim the production that has been siphoned off to other cities.
For the moment, however, New York is the shining star.  Though still smaller in total dollars than Los Angeles productions, their increase in share of production is nothing less than stellar. They seem to have harnessed the “buzz factor,” and in the world of TV and Film production buzz goes a long way.  Appearances are sometimes more valuable than fact, and right now New York seems to be the hot place to be working.  Everyone is talking about them, and they haven’t even had to do any twerking.  Stay tuned this could get interesting. 
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