Paterson and the NY Film Tax Credit Anthony Stasi
Not long ago, I walked along a street lined with brownstones, and black painted stoops. A few potholes on the ground were illuminated by drooping street lights. Some garbage pails were covered, some not. There a few ‘For Rent’ signs in the windows. A genuine ‘New York’ street…in Los Angeles. I was visiting a few friends from a past life that work at Paramount Pictures. New York Street is the street they contract out for commercials or use for New York-style television shows and movies. It felt real enough for me to think I couldn’t afford anything on this plastic set.
This great backdrop aside, our city draws a lot of business from filmmakers and producers that want to shoot here in the real city. Governor Paterson is now weighing whether the New York Film and Tax Credit is worth holding on to, when there are so many other areas (police, teachers, and emergency services to name a few) that might need funding more. Those areas do need whatever funding we have the most – no questions asked. But the TV and Film Tax Credit allows New York to keep its identity to some degree.
The industries that made New York what it is have either left, or are on life support (namely, manufacturing and Wall Street). Film, television, and theatre are part of what make New York special. Even though other cities have entertainment, nothing can compare to that of New York City.
The Tax Credit was increased by 30% not long ago. Times changed fast, and maybe we need to lower the rate of increase from 30% to perhaps 20%. This would keep the profitable government effort alive.
What many of us are too young to remember is when New York was home to major beer breweries, before losing them to New Jersey over production costs. Those were good union jobs. We may not remember the garment district as it was once, with factories pumping – even though so many of those women earned less than they should have gotten.
Now, what is left is our mystique. New York – people get so angry over the city and then defend it vehemently should it be criticized by an outsider. What is left is a stock market on welfare and an entertainment industry. We have to show good faith with the entertainment industry, or we might lose them to a plastic replica of our city. This is why we need to hold on to the Film and Television Tax Credit.