Property Grunt

Friday, February 13, 2009

Film this

Not one scene from A Rumble in the Bronx was filmed in the Bronx. It was filmed in Vancouver. In fact in certain scenes, you can see mountains in the background. Expect to see more of this in the near future.

I love movies. I really love movies. I am a movie freak to the point that I have this uncanny ability to identify a number of films from one scene, even if I haven't seen the whole movie. Apart from LA, New York City is the place for film.

However things do not appear very sunny for the Big Apple film wise.

Film/TV Productions In City Stall As Tax Credit Fund Used Up

A state tax credit program for the film making industry in New York state that has enabled both the industry and the state to prosper has run out of money and there are fears producers will desert New York City for other film locations.

Funding totaling $685 million that was supposed to last through 2013 was used up by February 1, 10 days ago, according to a source. New allocations must come from the state legislature as an emergency allocation or be included in next year's budget, which is supposed to be approved by April 1.

However, with the huge deficit facing state budget makers and the expectation that federal stimulus money may come to the state, there have been no indications from state officials regarding the future of the successful program.

This is bad. Really bad. In terms of film, New York City is insanely expensive, especially if you want to do a Union production. These tax credit make it quite appealing to film in New York. Roger Corman once stated that if you make a movie cheap enough, you will always make a profit. These tax credits allow studios to be able to purse that model since it lowers their expenses.

This is really not good for Silvercup studios.

Silvercup, Kaufman sweat end of tax break

Western Queens studio heads said they hope to keep the cameras rolling after a tax credit that has brought movies and television productions back to New York City in droves recently ran out of money.

Two of the city’s largest film and television studios are located in western Queens, including Long Island City’s Silvercup Studios and Kaufman Astoria Studios.

Alan Suna, chief executive officer of Silvercup, said two shows — “Gossip Girl” and “Ugly Betty” — are covered through their next season, which will begin shooting at the studio this spring. But the studio has not signed any new TV shows or movies, which could prevent Silvercup from moving forward on its massive $1 billion expansion project that would include eight soundstages, a waterfront pavilion and 1,000 apartment units.

“It’s a big concern,” he said. “Right now, we have not signed a single pilot. And there’s no guarantee that shows we already have will stay if we do not have the tax credit.”

I wonder how they feel about their development plan now.

Silvercup Studios Sets $1 Billion Complex

With New York City suddenly awash in film and television productions, Silvercup Studios has unveiled plans for a version of Hollywood on the East River, a $1 billion complex with soundstages, commercial space and housing on the Queens waterfront south of the Queensboro Bridge.

The six-acre project in Long Island City, which formally began wending its way through the city's land use review process yesterday, is called Silvercup West, an expansion of Silvercup's existing operation six blocks to the east, the home studio for television shows like "The Sopranos" and "Hope & Faith" and where many movies have been filmed.

If it is approved, the expansion would include eight soundstages, production and studio support space, offices for media and entertainment companies, stores, 1,000 apartments in high-rise towers, a catering hall and a yet-to-be-named cultural institution. Silvercup would easily be the largest production house on the East Coast, although Steiner Studios in Brooklyn has the largest single soundstage.

It is not just Silvercup that is in jeopardy.

A Big New York City Movie Studio Is Getting Bigger

Kaufman Astoria Studios, one of New York City’s three largest movie studios, is moving ahead with a major expansion plan, nine years after it was announced.

The studio, in the Astoria section of Queens, will break ground this fall on a $20 million building, with an 18,000-square-foot soundstage and 22,000 square feet of support space, on a plot of land diagonally across 36th Street from its current building, which is between 34th and 35th Avenues.

Eventually, the studio intends to shut off 36th Street and erect a gate to create a studio lot — a compound with indoor and outdoor sets — and to construct a tower that would combine a hotel and office space directly behind the new soundstage.

Astoria Studios is not the only New York movie studio that is expanding: Two years ago, Silvercup Studios, in Long Island City, Queens, announced that it would build a $1 billion complex on the East River waterfront, south of the Queensboro Bridge. It is to have eight new soundstages, production and support space, two towers with 1,000 apartments, an office tower and stores.

Construction has been delayed, however, by problems involving the removal of generators, owned by the New York Power Authority, on the site. Stuart Match Suna, Silvercup Studios’ president, said he hoped this matter would be resolved in time for work to begin next year.

The newest of the big three studios, the four-year-old Steiner Studios, is renovating a 289,000-square-foot building adjacent to its current soundstages in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, for use as production and office space. It also announced last November that it had joined forces with the Navy Yard to transform a 20-acre segment of the yard into a media and entertainment center that would also contain a studio lot.

All the development is intended to take advantage of tax incentives offered by the city and state governments.

To lure film production away from other states and Canada, the New York State Legislature four years ago approved a 10 percent tax credit on certain production costs, primarily for blue-collar technicians and crew members, and a 5 percent credit from New York City. These tax breaks — which are applied toward state and city income taxes — were sweetened in April, when the Legislature tripled the state tax incentive to 30 percent.

All these parties are in need of a clean pair of shorts.

In my opinion even if they bring back the tax credit program, I do not see the film industry beating down the doors into New York City. It is for a very simple reason. The film and television industry is getting hammered right now, just like the rest of the world. Steven Spielberg, of all people, had so much trouble getting funding for his projects he had to go to India.

Iron Man 2
will most not likely feature Samuel Jackson because does not have the money for him.

Despite the success of the Dark Knight, the Brothers Warner decided to put the kibosh on their DC comics properties.

Despite all of these issues, I think we are at the dawn of a golden age for film in New York City.

First of all New York City is a bastion of creativity. Throw a rock in a crowd and you will hit an actor, writer, director, artist or a person who has some expertise in the arts. These people are not going to simply stand by and wait for a recovery. They are going to pursue their endeavors and move heaven and earth to create greatness.

Film making is going to be huge in Manhattan because of the affordability of digital video and the internet. Before digital video, if you wanted to make a movie you needed money because the equipment, the man power and film stock were quite expensive.

These you don't need film to make film. There is a new generation of cheaper and user friendly DV cameras out there that produce video that looks just like film.

You don't need Sundance, you don't need Telluride, you don't need any of those film festivals to look for a distribution deal. You have the internet where you can show your work to an audience of billions.

The world is falling apart but we will go on.