New York Film Czars Innovate to Keep Prod'n Humming

By Goldstein, Gregg | Variety, September 10-September 16 | Go to article overview

New York Film Czars Innovate to Keep Prod'n Humming


Goldstein, Gregg, Variety


Two of the most powerful women in the U.S. film industry are Pat Swinney Kaufman, exec director of the New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development, and Katherine Oliver, of the New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment. Oliver, now celebrating her 10th anniversary on the job, expanded her office to include an NYC Digital arm, and launched the first city-based film & TV production tax credit. Competition from other states and countries inspired Kaufman, now in her 17th year, to triple the state of New York's production tax credits from 10% to 30%, a move that boosted Gotham production but quickly burned through allocated city and state program funds. Gregg Goldstein spoke with Kaufman and Oliver on whether the now-defunct Gotham tax credit will be revived, the impact of new post-production state tax credits and other ways New York is staying competitive.

Keeping New York City in the production game requires thinking outside the box.

Oliven Customer service is priority No. 1 - that's something I learned with (New York City Mayor) Michael Bloomberg in the private sector that we've tried to apply to government. (But) it's not just making it as easy as possible for people to access locations and interface with our office - no other city in the world offers our marketing credit. We look at your New York City production spend, take 1% and give you free outdoor media on bus shelters, kiosks, taxis and subways. We can't control what other territories are going to offer in the form of tax credits or currency fluctuations, but we can offer innovative ways to lessen the cost of production.

We have record production - 22 primetime shows, almost 200 feature films a year - and a record number of people working in film, television and commercials. This is a real turnaround from 2002, when we were losing a lot of production to Canada and other parts of the world and still working on electric typewriters. Now we have a robust online permitting system, online digital photo libraries and iPhone applications for films to find businesses, part of our vendor discount card program.

Training future bizzers is a good way to grow.

Oliver: When the state decided to be more competitive and raised their tax credit from 10% to 30% in 2008, not a lot of extra money was put into the program, so we exhausted the amount that was put in. After the city's portion ran out, we felt the 30% tax credit was still very competitive.

We couldn't afford to extend the credit at that particular time, and we also felt that if we were going to introduce new incentives, they should be a complement to the state film tax credit. So we now choose to roll out new initiatives that are complementary to the state's program: in addition to the marketing credit, our Made in N. …

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