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America is in danger of losing a critical part of it’s culture: Independent Film. All throughout this year I have heard one producer or director after another complain they can no longer afford to stay in the business. I know I too feel this on a regular basis. Yet, here in New York, I have seen the crafts and support elements run at close to full employment. Why? The New York State Tax Credits keep television and other productions going at a steady pace.
There is no question that effective tax policy can also be job stimulus.
Without any policy for funding of the arts in America,it is critical that we incentive potential investors to consider backing the arts. It was great to hear (via Entertainment Partners’ Film Incentive Services) that there is a movement afoot to reinstate Fed 181. They pointed out:
Congressmen Howard Berman and David Drier co-sponsored a bill (HR 5793) to extend the federal film incentive program aimed at keeping film production in the U.S. Internal Revenue Code section 181 expired at the end of last year. The current proposal would extend the election to treat film costs as an immediate deduction rather than a capital expense. To qualify, productions must spend ≥ 75% of the compensation on services performed in the U.S.
The Hollywood Reporter points out the many benefits for the country at large.
“Berman and Drier point out that runaway foreign production has become a national issue. With production of movies and TV programs now occurring throughout the United States, this industry creates well-paying jobs and generates tangible economic benefits to cities and states nationwide. A typical motion picture employs 350-500 people. Production jobs have an average salary that is 73 percent higher than the current nationwide average. A major motion picture shooting on location contributes $225,000 on average every day to the local economy, so it is no surprise that it is seen as a critical engine of economic development in many places across the country.
Thus, the lawmakers argue, extension of the tax not only will help to promote well-paying film industry jobs but will have a ripple effect across broad sectors of the economy by generating revenue and employment opportunities for a wide range of local businesses, such as caterers, dry cleaners, lodging, equipment rental facilities, transportation vendors and many others.”
If you live in the States, and work in the arts, the least you can do is call your representatives and urge them to support the bill, HR 5793.
Stacey Parks returns with a guest post — and a sequel.
Because Film Finance Overwhelm (Part 1) was such a popular post, I decided to do a Part 2. And because many of the comments and emails I got came in the form of questions, I decided to make the format of this post in Q+A form. I think seeing the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions will clear things up for many of you.
As a refresher, the 4 Film Financing components I talked about in Part 1 – the ones that are working in today’s market to independently finance films outside of the studio system are as follows:
1. Tax Incentives
2. Partnering With Production Companies
4. Crowd Funding
So let’s move on to Q+A…shall we?
Q: What are the benefits from both sides of partnering with a Production Company or more experienced Producer?
A: The obvious benefit to the new or less-experience Producer is pretty obvious – you get to leverage someone else’s track record to get your film made. But what about the benefit to the other Producer (the bigger one)? [...]
Guest post from Film Specific’s Stacey Parks.
As I’m unwinding from AFM last week, it occurs to me that while many of you are experiencing Distribution Overwhelm, even more of you are experiencing Finance Overwhelm. Why? Because unless you have 100% cash in bank to make your film, what can you do to get your project off the ground?
The way I see it is we’ve entered a time where ‘cobbling together’ different forms of film financing is necessary to make the whole. Sure, private equity (or cash) still plays a role in this new model, but there’s also other methods that need to be explored and implemented to finance your film
Case in point – many filmmakers today are using private equity or cash for development funds, tax incentives and pre-sales for production funds, and crowd funding for finishing funds. Is that too many financing components? Let me put it to you this way….
Ignore a diversified approach to film financing at your peril!
So how and where do you begin on this journey then to cobble together financing for your film? [...]
It is frustrating from an indie producer perspective that all film-centered tax incentives, both here in the US and abroad, are geared towards the higher budgeted films. It is totally understandable though, as the Hollywood & big budget fare bring in the most revenue and the most jobs. This sort of bias however, also limits the growth of local creative talent — in fact you could argue that the bias to high priced production in tax incentives drives out the local talent and thus prevents creative communities from developing in the regions in which the incentives are supposed to help.
Unless such tax incentive programs also focus on the sustainability of the creative community — in addition to maximizing tax revenues and employment — it will always be carpetbaggers who benefit from policy and not the local community. [...]
I should of posted this days ago, but as today was day that was already filled with commitments I knew I couldn’t go, but if one of you reading this blog decides to go, I will feel a whole lot better. So please, if you can, drop what you are doing, rsvp as directed below, get on the bus, and tell our representatives what you think.
Location: Lincoln Park, Albany, NY
Street Address: Corner of Park Avenue and South Swan Street (Map)
The event basically breaks down as follows:
11am – Truck Rally
Noon – Press Conference
The press conference will be taking place on the West Capitol steps, which is approximately a 15-minute walk from Lincoln Park.
The buses are free and there is also free parking at Steiner. However, you must RSVP to Rachel Weiser (info below) if you are planning on traveling on one of the buses.
If you are driving to the event separately – please get there at 11am. There will be parking at Lincoln Park.
For more information, please contact the on-site coordinator, Rachel Weiser at:
I have been wanting to explore Nexo, and now have the perfect reason to do so — thanks to Derek Yip. Derek’s started a “Save NY Film & TV” social network on Nexo. To join, go here:
This group was established to be a resource for updates on the latest developments and organizational efforts to save the production tax incentives for motion picture industry in New York State and New York City. Now that we understand how vital the incentives are to our livelihood, hopefully this group can be a unified front to call for transparency and accountability in the incentive programs and to further educate ourselves about them.
01. Although not mandatory, we hope all new members will briefly introduce themselves. This is so we can understand what kind of a stake you have in the future of New York’s economy.
02. Posts here should be on the topic of the New York production incentives and how it relates to New York’s economy. Although it’s fine to reference your projects in relation to this, please refrain from blatant promotion of your projects, your company, job offers, job requests, or links to such. Links to articles covering the latest news on the production incentives are encouraged.
03. Lively discussion and intelligent debate is welcome, but please refrain from ad hominem attacks. Please carefully proof and re-read what you are about to send before posting out to the group.
04. If you haven’t done so, you are encouraged to go to the following link and sign: http://www.petitiononline.com/Zablocki/
05. Write and mail letters to your elected officials for an additional impact:
• Download a template for your letter:
• Write to Governor Paterson:
• Write to your Assemblyperson:
• Write to your Senator: