Demand The Government To Incentive Job Creation & Support The Arts (via Fed181 Extension)

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.

181 Renewed! Indie Filmmakers Rejoice!

Why does this matter? Zak Forsman tweeted it nicely: " if tax payer is in 35% tax bracket and the film's shot in a state with a 42% credit, investor's eligible to get 77% of her investment back."

To go a tad deeper, Zak Forsman posted it well:

Minutes ago, I received this email from my friend and fellow filmmaker, Justin Evans.

Dear Film Professionals -

Section 181 has finally been renewed! The new Tax Bill was signed into law by President Obama earlier today. The tax law includes Section 744, which includes language that replaces IRS Section 181's expiration date of December 31, 2009 with December 31, 2011.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr4853enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr4853enr.pdf

Here is what this means:

  • Any money spent on qualifying domestic film production* in 2010 now qualifies for the Section 181 tax write-off.
  • Any money spent on qualifying domestic film production* in 2011 will also qualify for the Section 181 tax write-off.
  • There is no gap in Section 181 protection...which means all the fear and worry that someone might have begun a project in 2009, somehow didn't get the financing in place and investors invested in early 2010 can now breath a sigh of relief.

Read all of what Zak has to say about it here. Thanks Zak!

Film Finance Overwhelm (pt.2)

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
3. Pre-Sales
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)? The benefit to them is that you are bringing them a killer concept and/or killer script that they didn’t have before. In my own pitching experience I find that every single one of the Producers I speak to says they are always looking for the next killer project – and they don’t really care where it comes from! Enter YOU. One of the keys to this approach is that hopefully you can bring more to the table than just a script, for example some kind of unique expertise. What areas of expertise do you have that you can contribute? Do you have existing relationships with foreign distributors for instance? How about marketing expertise? Are you a producer who can qualify for international co-production funds because you have a European or Australian or New Zealand passport? Think along those lines of some unique contribution you can bring to the partnership.

Q: What does it take to make a Pre-Sale when you don’t have the typical ‘package’?

A: It’s a fact that the majority of Pre-Sales these days are done on ‘packages’ – meaning a script with Director and Cast attachments. So what if you have an atypical package meaning not a name director or big international stars? Well I’ll tell you… I’ve seen this past year a few projects be successful at Pre-Sales by attaching the right Producer or Executive Producer. Yes, Producer and EP are also part of your package! Mind you these projects were also very commercial concepts, and not in the art-house/drama genre. Which brings up something else – sometimes, and I mean only sometimes, if your concept is so strong and commercial, you can mange a Pre-Sale or two ONLY based on that, even without having a big director or stars attached. In those cases what happens is who ever is buying from you, may insist on attaching an experienced ‘name’ themselves, so they can increase their level of trust and mitigate their risk.

Q: Aren’t the administrative costs extremely high when closing a tax finance deal?

A: Yes, actually they are. They can be anywhere from 15% to 25% of your budget by the time to take into account the discounting that banks do, legal, financing fees, interest, etc. For this reason, it usually only makes sense to take advantage of tax incentive deals when your budget is $2 million or more (and some say $5 million or more). Because tax deals can be expensive to administer many Producers prefer to finance with equity rather than tax incentives, but equity isn’t always available, and unless you are experienced with a track record, can be difficult to secure. Obviously the higher the budget of your film, the more tax incentives make sense for your production – for example when you start getting into the $5-$10 million budget range the numbers starting adding up even better. Having said that, I personally think it’s always worthwhile to look into the option of shooting in places that offer favorable tax incentives, and run the numbers to see how everything pencils out. I know Producers who have resisted this for a long time, and have finally given in because not taking advantage of 20%-40% in rebates is considered simply irresponsible at this point.

Q: What percentage of budget can you actually raise with Crowd Funding?

A: Certainly I’m seeing people raise 100% of their budgets doing crowd funding campaigns, especially with budgets of $200K and less. However in most cases, I think if you can raise 20%-25% of your budget with Crowd Funding then you can wrap a traditional financing structure around that. The thing to keep in mind with crowd funding is that you want to keep your campaign donation-based instead of investment-based, as anything investment-based can put you into legal grey area. Obviously sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are terrific platforms for running your Crowd Funding campaigns and the thing that I like best about raising money through crowd funding is that it can be a great way to raise development funds in the beginning, when you need things like a website and other presentation materials to get the ball rolling. By contrast, I’ve also seen Producers use crowd funding very successfully to raise finishing funds, because by then you actually have sample footage to show people, and there can be an increased level of trust that your film will actually be completed.

Q: What are the downsides to raising International Co-Production financing as opposed to International Pre-Sale financing?

A: International Co-Production financing is second nature to most European producers because that’s their ‘traditional’ financing model. Nowadays however, even American producers are getting in on the action and the two biggest downsides I see with seeking International Co-Production financing are 1) The amount of red tape it takes to apply for government film funds, and 2) the amount of time it takes to get a project off the ground when you’re relying on international co-production funds. With so many new ways of financing your film these days, even European producers are looking outside their traditional model of ‘free government money’ because it’s simply just so much more efficient to cobble together the financing in other ways (using the 4 components I talked about above + private investors). And yes, most U.S tax rebate programs are much more efficient than the European government funds – quicker to get approval on and quicker to get cash-flowed.

So there you have it — I’d love to keep answering questions so please if you have any more, place them in the comments section below!

And if you want to delve deeper into Film Financing 101, check out the Virtual Intensive I’m putting on after Thanksgiving!

In the – Film Financing 2.0 Essential Training - I’ll be covering these 4 components of financing in-depth over the course of a few weeks. Take a look at the details of this small group program, and grab a seat before it sells out. Join the movement to get your film financed for 2011!

Film Finance Overwhelm

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? Let’s forget the private equity or cash component for a moment b/c that’s usually the hardest piece of the puzzle, and let’s focus on financing components we actually have more control over in order to create some initial momentum with your project:

Tax incentives – you’ve probably heard this before but if you’re not investigating locations to shoot your film that offer tax rebates and credits, you’re simply being irresponsible. Research both U.S and international states, countries, and provinces which offer attractive tax incentives for you to shoot your film there. Use the individual Film Commission offices as your starting point and they’ll walk you though the process and procedure, which in my experience are shockingly simple. Get budgets drawn up for shooting in different locations so you can compare where you’re able to make your film in the most economic way possible.

Partnering With Production Companies – This may not seem like an obvious choice at first but let’s just say this – if you don’t have a track record yourself, if you’re a first or second time producer, writer, or director and you want to fast track your production, you should consider partnering with a more experienced Producer or Production Company and leverage their track record to get your project made. There are so many other benefits to this approach too – not least is the fact that if you manage to attract a bigger producer with a track record to your project to partner with you, you can ride their coat tails for this project, get introduced to their whole network of ‘relationships’, and be in a prime position for your next project to go it alone, using all the contacts you made. I’ve seen this happen many times, and it seems sometimes what holds people back in this scenario is their pride. Wouldn’t you rather swallow your pride and get your film made?

Pre-Sales – Here’s the facts: Pre-Sales are not dead. I don’t care what anyone says, Pre-Sales are alive and kicking for the right projects. And that’s the key here – the right projects. What does that mean? That means for projects with a killer concept, an experienced director attached, and great cast, pre-sales are in fact a reality. Now I know this might seem like a long shot for some of you but hear me out….If you are a first time director, focus on a killer concept and cast. If you are a first time producer, focus on attaching a ‘name’ director. You can in fact build a package that attracts pre-sales, it takes time, and often money (development funds) to pull things together but it’s possible.

Crowd Funding – Crowd Funding has actually been around for a while but only recently popularized by sites like Kickstarter & Indie Go Go. However, as many of you know, Robert Greenwald has been crowd funding his movies for years. His moves, being cause-related in nature, actually quite nicely lend themselves to being crowd funded (by people who are passionate about his causes). But what about if you have a narrative feature (as opposed to a cause-related doc)? The truth is, Crowd Funding can work for you too but the success of your campaign will be predicated on your ability to build an audience for your film while you’re still in the financing stage. No easy task but by leveraging the internet and social media, ti’s entirely possible provided you have a subject in your film, or are covering a topic or theme that people are actually interested in. Have you researched the concept of your film yet to determine if in fact there’s a potential audience for it that will be interested in seeing it? That’s the key to crowd funding right there.

These 4 components are what I see as the basic building blocks of a Film Financing plan in today’s market. And by building blocks I mean you should be using a combination of a few if not all of these to get the job done!

So what are your thoughts about Film Finance Overwhelm? Which of these methods have you used successfully, or not so successfully? And what questions do you have about any of them?

I’ll be kicking off one last Virtual Intensive for 2010 dedicated to Film Finance Overwhelm because I know that many of you are looking ahead at 2011 and you want to get your films made next year come hell or high water!

In my Virtual Intensive – Film Financing 2.0 Essential Training - I’ll be covering these 4 components of financing in-depth over the course of a few weeks. Take a look at the details of this small group program, and grab a seat before it sells out. Join the movement to get your film financed for 2011!

Stacey Parks is an expert in the area of Film Distribution, and the author of "Insiders Guide To Independent Film Distribution" (Focal Press). After several years as a foreign sales agent, in 2007 Stacey launched www.FilmSpecific.com as a Virtual Training hub for Producers seeking to get their films made, seen, & distributed worldwide.


Film Tax Incentives Need To Focus On Low Budget Production Too!

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. It is great when the local work force is all fully employed (remember those days?), and it is great when the local vendors have deal upon deal so they grow their biz and improve the infrastructure, but why limit our ambition to such basic needs as employment and monetary profit?

When the goal of policy is 100% profit & revenue motivated,  IMHO  it is generally a barrier to the creation of  the best work and consequently the sustainability of the individuals who make it. Supporting lower budget work through such policy benefits local community and the artists who are vested in the locale as a whole (not just in terms of how they save & make $$).

Why is it so important for government policy to focus on low budget media production as well as the biggest revenue & job generators in this sector?

  • Media artists create work inspired by where they live, the places & people they love and are intrigued by.  If the up & comings can't afford to shoot in a place, fewer films will be centered in local communities, and thus unfortunately as a result create a more generic impression of our country worldwide.  We need to help provide an understanding of our worlds that are not just motivated by the "sell" and mass market.  How will we build bridges to other communities throughout the world when all of our output is about reaching into people's wallet and the characters we portray aim to satisfy everyone?
  • Every film shot is a promotional tool to make it's setting a desired destination for all.  Movies are promotional tools for the tourist industry of the state.  We enrich the area where we set our work financially as well as culturally.
  • No one sets out to work on projects that are only profitable or employ huge crews.  It is a need to participate in work (and culture) that you are proud of, that speaks to you personally -- it is this quality that makes people chose to work for lower rates on our projects (I am told).  To keep a strong crew base, communities need a diversity of production to sustain individuals both creatively and financially.
  • Low budget films provide a way for crew members to advance their skill set by working at higher responsibility than they would elsewhere . Since depth of talent base is a decisive factor where a film shoots, larger films are incentivized to come to a location where they can find a crew and actor base with the required experience -- and as a result in benefits a community to make sure that crews can advance their skill set and not just get stuck at the lower end of a hiring heirachy.
  • Low budget films take more chances on collaborators in all categories, creating new "stars" and adding "value" in the process, and eventually attracting & generating new projects consequently.  If communities rely only on projects only generated outside their community, their prime tool to attract productions will be increasing the size of their incentives and thus limiting their revenues in the process; we all need home grown projects or else each incentive will be incentivized to exceed each other (and destroy the local benefits as a result).
  • Quality of life improves for all when we don't just do well, but also do good.  Incentivizing low budget production and nurturing home grown talent can be a source of civic pride -- which is part of the glue that drives and sustains any infrastructure.
  • Large budget productions must maintain the status quo.  Large budgets are justified by the tastes at the time they are made.  Large budgets are about the already proven.  If we believe in the necessity of a diverse culture, an inclusive culture, a culture of opportunity, we need to find ways to make sure we support low budget production.
  • And let's be real: from a business and recoupment perspective, it is hard to justify middle budget production (which these days I would define as $500K - $45M!) under the current revenue models.  New talent won't develop, new ideas and methods won't be sourced, unless we have a middle ground where transitional artist can experiment and grow. If we want to have a healthy film and media industry, we need to help stimulate low budget production.

Nonetheless, State Tax Film Incentives and other policies generally favor larger budgeted films.  In NY State we would not have a tax incentive if it wasn't for the coalition of studio owners who lobbied for the initial law, but not surprisingly they looked out (then, and continue to look out so now) for their own interest and required that every film have a day of work on a "certified" stage to qualify for the incentive -- up until the tax incentives passed, not one of my sixty films had ever shot on a real stage.  It also has been said that the approval process in many states is far more rigorous for low budget films than higher ones, and I imagine that there will eventually reach a court case in some state or another where a filmmaker proves this.  Granted, tax incentives are just one aspect of the bias to large budget films nation wide, but they are one that we can do something about.  The first step is convincing our communities that low budget work matters (which means we must advance beyond just financial analysis in determining our policy).

There are numerous policies that could be built into local film tax incentives that would help create sustainable film communities in those very same states or locales:

  1. Every state these days owns or controls various buildings and real estate that could be made available at reduced rates for low budget home-grown production.
  2. Similarly, film permit fees (like the ones NYC recently inacted) could be waived if a budget is below a certain threshold; ditto on requisite practices like NY State's tax incentive studio requirement.
  3. And why not reserve a portion of each state's rebate for local low-budget production and keep the carpetbaggers from siphoning off the whole kaboodle?

Frankly, it would be great if States and municipalities even focused on some non-funding activities to help their local film communities.

  1. Wouldn't it be great if film board websites actually promoted local filmmakers and technicians?  Local film schools could be recruited to shoot, edit, and post promotional videos championing home grown talent.
  2. Is there anything wrong with States playing matchmaker and introducing financiers and other entrepreneurs to the best and the brightest?  Many states now have incubators and other "proof of concept" matchmaking enterprises and wouldn't everyone feel indebted if the angels met the aspirants?
  3. And why stop at tax breaks, promotion, and matchmaking?  Whatever happened to subsidized housing and work space for artists?  Don't the creative class give rise to a higher quality of life for the rest of the community?  Why not require low cost housing for artists be part of any redevelopment plan?
  4. Why not help fund a teaching/lecture program that artists can participate in to not only help them survive but to also give back to the community at the same time?

I am sure that you can add to these lists.  Let's figure this out and build it better together.

Where are the governments that show they actually believe that culture is a valuable (even necessary) component to life?  Tell us, so we can begin the mass-migration now!

Help Keep NJ's Film Tax Credit

I received the following letter from Joseph Guerriero of Tax Credits LLC. Film tax credits are job stimuli. As tough times as these are, it is foolish for any state to dis-incentivize films, and all the money they bring, from shooting in their state. Follow Joseph's advice, and write to the representatives and urge it's passage.

Senator Paul A. Sarlo, Chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, has called a special public Committee hearing to discuss the future of New Jersey’s Film and Digital Media Tax Credit Program. The Hearing will take place on Wednesday, June 9th, from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm at NBC/Universal’s “Mercy” Studio,10 Enterprise Avenue North in Secaucus (just off Meadowlands Parkway).

Introduced last November, the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act,(Senate, No.3002), which was co-sponsored by Senators Paul Sarlo and Thomas Kean Jr, seeks to enhance the current tax credit program for filmmakers...to attract even more films to the state, stimulate local business and create more jobs. Unfortunately, the new administration has proposed suspending the current program altogether for Fiscal Year 2011 (which begins on July 1, 2010).

At the June 9 public hearing, the Budget and Appropriations Committee will invite testimony from those who would be affected by even a temporary suspension of the program. We will hear from production-related businesses, individuals whose livelihood depend on a continuous stream of production in New Jersey, filmmakers, producers and of course the production companies that will not consider filming in NJ without an economic incentive!

Please make every effort to attend this hearing. At this critical juncture, your presence and support is essential to the survival of the program!

If you are unable to attend this important event, please consider sending letters in support of the program to the individuals, below:

Senator – Chairman of Budget and Appropriations Committee The Hon. Paul A. Sarlo 207 Hackensack Street, 2nd Floor Wood Ridge, NJ 07075 201-804-8118

Senator – Senate Minority Leader The Hon. Thomas H. Kean Jr. 425 North Street East Westfield, NJ 07090 908-232-3673

Senator – Senate Majority Leader The Hon. Barbara Buono 2 Lincoln Highway, Suite 401 Edison, NJ 08820 732-205-1372

Senator – Senate President The Hon. Stephen M. Sweeney Kingsway Commons 935 Kings Highway, Suite 400 Thorofare, NJ 08086-2238 856-251-9801

Senator – Assistant Majority Leader The Hon. M. Teresa Ruiz 166 Bloomfield Ave. Newark, NJ 07104 973-484-1000

Assemblyman – Assembly Speaker The Hon. Sheila Oliver 15-33 Halsted St., Suite 202 East Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1166

Assemblyman – Assembly Majority Leader The Hon. Joseph Cryan 985 Stuyvesant Ave. Union, NJ 07083-6909 908-624-0880

Assemblyman – Budget Chair The Hon. Louis Greenwald 1103 Laurel Oak Rd., Suite 142 Vorhees, NJ 08043 856-435-1247

Governor The Hon. Chris Christie State House P.O. Box 001 Trenton, NJ 08625 609-292-6000

Lt. Governor The Hon. Kim Guadagno State House P.O. Box 001 Trenton, NJ 08625 609-292-6000

Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff State Treasurer 125 West State St., Box 002 Trenton, NJ 08625-0002 609-292-3078

Petition Against Florida's Ban On Films With Gay Characters

Perhaps you've heard of the plan to deny films (like all the oscar nominated movies this year) that don't promote "family values" which to some mean gay characters. Luckily some people are doing something about it.  For a start you can sign this petition started by R. Michael McWhorter (thank him by following him on Twitter) :

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no_florida_film_censorship/

The petition reads: Florida, like many states currently has a Film incentives program designed to attract motion picture productions, however a new revision (which offers greater incentives) threatens to censor the content being produced by disqualifying films that "exhibit or imply any act of smoking, sex, nudity, nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language." or any film that contains content not "suitable for viewing by children age 5 or older"

This means any film featuring adult language, violence of any kind or "non traditional families" such as Gay or potentially even non-married or divorced couples would be disqualified.

You can read more at the link provided to the right but to put it in perspective this means all but one of the ten Academy Awards Best Picture nominees would not qualify.

This act would in essence cripple the film production industry in Florida by alienating many out of state productions who would have no choice but to shoot in states that do offer incentives to make their films.

Even if you are NOT in the film industry this AFFECTS YOU. Gas stations, Hotels, Restaurants, Real Estate and Tourism are just a few of many outlets where film production money stimulates the community where the production is taking place.

Art is not always safe, it is not always pretty and everyone has the right to choose to view it or not but NO ONE should be able to dictate the content within.

State Rep. Stephen Precourt went as far as to say he wanted films that depict life from the 1960's "Think of it as like Mayberry" and said shows with gay characters "Would not be the kind of thing I'd say that we want to invest public dollars in"

For the record the incentive does not "Invest" public dollars, it offers tax breaks to encourage film productions to spend large sums of money here that they would otherwise spend elsewhere.

Links to this petition and the signatures within will be sent to all of the Florida State Representatives. I also encourage anyone who is willing to feel free to contact a State representative yourself and let them know how you feel. You CAN make a difference, make your voice heard!

Friday 3/12 UPDATE:

The stink of Florida's discriminatory practices has led them to attempt to clarify things.  But as you can read, the attempt does not clarify anything.  It still seems that Florida wants to censor content with gay characters.  This is that press release:

FLORIDA GROUP OF FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS RELEASE STATEMENT CLARIFYING LANGUAGE IN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL HB 697 Aimed at Creating Jobs – Not Discriminating

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MIAMI, Fla. (March 11, 2010) – Representatives of a half dozen Florida film and digital media organizations have come together to address and clarify a recently misinterpreted voluntary bonus in the Entertainment Industry Economic Development Act (HB 697) introduced by Rep. Steven Precourt (R-41).

“House Bill 697 will create jobs for Floridians by offering tax incentives to film, television and digital media productions. Unfortunately, it has been misunderstood that this bill is entirely about content, when in fact it is about Florida creating a tax credit to lure business,” said the coalition’s spokesman Graham Winick, president of Film Florida.

The “family-friendly” bonus was added to the incentive program in 2007/2008 and the language in question is being added to clarify the existing law which defines “family-friendly” material as appropriate for viewing by a 5-year-old without using all of the detailed MPAA ratings language.

“The language in HB 697 that has been questioned is limited only to a voluntarily-requested additional bonus tax incentive, not the main incentive,” said Winick. “This is not about turning away projects.”

“It is understandable that not all motion picture, television and video game productions will target G and E markets, but those that do can add to our jobs base and we ought to be doing everything we can to attract them,” said Winick.

The group consists of representatives from Film Florida, Florida Alliance of Media & Entertainment (FAME), Digital Media Alliance Florida (DMAF), Women in Film & Television – Florida (WIFT-FL), Florida Motion Picture & Television Association (FMPTA), Association of Independent Commercial Producers – Florida (AICP-FL), whose leadership support the highly competitive jobs creation policy presented in HB 697 and have come together to clarify the circulating misinformation.

You can read it for yourself here.

Save NY Film & TV Tax Credits! Albany Rally Today

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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

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.

Buses will be leaving for Albany from two mid-town Manhattan locations (42nd St & 3rd Av, and 33rd St & 8th Av), and one Brooklyn location (Steiner Studios). The buses leave at 6am sharp.
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.

Buses will be headed back to NYC from Albany at 2pm from Lincoln Park.
If you are driving to the event separately - please get there at 11am. There will be parking at Lincoln Park.

We encourage all to attend this event.
For more information, please contact the on-site coordinator, Rachel Weiser at:
rachelweiser@yostgoldconsulting.com
(512) 497-7492

Save NY Film & TV Nexo Group

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:

http://savenewyorkfilmandtv.nexo.com/
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:
http://trevanna.com/nypa/images/misc/crew_letter_2009.doc

• Write to Governor Paterson:
http://www.ny.gov/governor/contact/index.html

• Write to your Assemblyperson:
http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/

• Write to your Senator:
http://www.senate.state.ny.us/senatehomepage.nsf/senators?OpenForm

Save The NY Film & TV Tax Credits!

I don't think I need to tell anyone reading this what a boost the credits have been to NY State, or how many jobs they have created, or how horrible it will be for the industry if they are not reinstated.  

We all need to call Governor Patterson.  We all need to write him a letter.  But you can start by signing this petition: 

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/petition-sign.cgi?Zablocki

To find your NY state assemby representative: 

http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/

To find and write your state congressional representative:
The petition reads:
To: Governor David A. Paterson
CC: Speaker of the Assembly/Assemblyman Sheldon Silver,
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith

We are writing to you today, on behalf of the thousands of men and women employed in the film and television industry in New York State. A recent article in the New York Post, titled "Cut! And Run Looms: NY Out of Film Lures", reported that the successful state program that provides tax credits to lure television and film productions to New York has run out of money. The report goes on to say that "A Paterson spokesman said yesterday that there is no additional funding for the tax credits included in his latest budget proposal." This is alarming.

With an unemployment rate of over 7%, now is not the time to cut programs that create jobs and foster new businesses in our state. This program is proven to be highly successful and at a time when this industry needs all the help it can get, you must rethink the true impact of not funding this valuable program.

According to a 2007 study by Ernst and Young, the state and city combined have issued $690 million in tax credits and have collected $2.7 billion in taxes from movie and television productions. This program pays for itself! It helped create over 7,000 jobs, directly, in 2007 and over 12,000 jobs indirectly.

As you are aware, New York City has seen a surge in new television, motion picture and commercial filming in recent years. The Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting reports that in 2002, there were 14,858 NYC location shooting days and in 2008, we reached over 27,250 days. There is a direct correlation between the growth of this industry and the tax credits provided from the state - we need to keep the momentum going, especially during tough economic times.

New York City and New York State have become"Hollywood of the East". We are finally a player in the international film industry. Please, Governor Paterson, fund the New York State Tax Credit program for television and motion pictures. Real jobs depend on it!

Sincerely,

Hope For The Future pt. 6: The List #'s 22- 25

22. Financiers are collaborating with each other. Groups like Impact Partners that provide regular deal flow, vetting, and producerial oversight for investors with common interests lowers the threshold number for investors interested in entering the film business. IndieVest is another model based on subscription, deal flow, and perqs. The high amount of capital needed to enter the film business has limited its participants. The film business has its own vernacular, and mysterious business practices. It is an industry of relationships. Collaborative ventures like this help to solve many of these threshold issues.

23. The US Government, at the city, state, and federal levels, recognize the positive economic impact of film production and have created a highly competitive market for tax subsidies and credits. The vast amount of experimentation in this field has allowed for it to grow forever more efficient. Although these benefits are designed to attract the highest amount of spend, and are thus most beneficial to Hollywood style models, the steady employment these credits have helped to deliver, develop a crew and talent base more able to also take risks on projects of more limited means. The “soft” money they provide a project is often key to getting the green light.

24. A greater acceptance of a variety of windows in terms of release platforms is emerging. Filmmakers were once the greatest roadblock to a pre-theatrical release DVD. Filmmakers are experimenting with everything from free streaming to the filmic equivalent to a roadshow tour. It is only through such endeavors that we will find a new model that works.

25. Industry leaders have said publicly that they will share the meta-data that a VOD release generates with the filmmakers. Although license fees have dropped considerably, filmmakers have new options on what to ask for in return. I spoke on a panel with two notable industry leaders who said they would put it in their contracts that filmmakers can receive and share the data the VOD screenings of their films generate. This information will become important the more filmmakers seek to maintain direct communication with their audiences.