The film industry in New York City is under siege. The state production tax credit extension is still held up in Albany without approval for another year, having run out in June 2009. Films and TV shows are going to Canada, Los Angeles and other areas with better production incentives. And now Mayor Bloomberg and the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting (MOFTB) plan to assess a $300 fee for filming permit application processing.
In a quote from the Wall Street Journal in response to the question of whether this fee would deter new business, "Everybody I've talked to about this—and I've called a number of producers—they couldn't stop laughing because it's $300 one time," said Mr. Bloomberg. "They go anyplace else, they pay $1,000 every two weeks. And it's such a small percentage of their budget."
Are these producers independent producers on limited budgets? Are these producers of short films or internet content? Are these producers documentary filmmakers? Mr. Bloomberg and the MOFTB don't seem to understand that this sort of fee will most certainly have an effect on low budget films, short films, documentaries and independent TV pilots in the city. $300 is enough to pay a principal actor in an ultra-low budget SAG film for 3 days. $300 is equipment rental for a day (or an hour). A low-budget or short film with a budget of $20,000 has to count every penny. In a low-budget film, $300 can be the difference between filming in New York City or somewhere else.
We, the undersigned, hereby state that this $300 filming permit application processing fee is not acceptable to those of us who work in this already fragile industry, which brings in millions of dollars in revenue and employs thousands of New Yorkers. We believe this fee will inhibit, and possibly cripple, independent and low-budget filming in the city and we are dismayed by the proposal. It is estimated these fees will only bring in under a million dollars a year. Compared with the possible loss of both revenue for our city and jobs the film industry provides, this fee is not worth the damage it could potentially cause. Please do not allow this fee to further erode an already declining number of productions in New York City. In this struggling economy, now is not the time for a new fee. Whether a production is a major studio film or a short film by an independent director on a shoestring budget, New York should be the film capital of the world – for everyone.
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