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Governor's film office celebrates "one million hires" for movie, TV production

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The Cuomo Administration is celebrating a milestone in the state's film tax credit program. It says one million hires have been supported by the program. While those jobs are mostly temporary, local individuals with close ties to the film industry say it is making a positive economic impact.

The Governor's Office of Motion Picture and Television Development says since the New York State's Film Tax Credit Program was introduced in 2004, one million hires have been made for work on 1,156 productions which generated more than $16.8 billion in spending.

Under the program, productions that qualify are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit. An additional 10 percent is added for production work in certain Upstate counties. Post-production work may qualify for a 35 percent credit with an additional 10 percent for labor costs. 

Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark says the governor's film office, led by executive director GiGi Semone, has grown the Western New York economy by encouraging filmmakers to look outside their traditional base in the Big Apple.

"All the film activity typically took place in New York City, in and around Manhattan," Clark said. "Now we're just seeing it all over the state, including Western New York. I've got to say, the governor's been true to his word. His film commissioner has been completely devoted to Western New York, Rochester and Central New York as well."

Western New York, for its part, has lured many directors with its authentic vintage architecture. Local hotels and restaurants enjoy an uptick in business when out-of-town crews and performers come to the region to work. The rise in local film production has also stimulated other business growth.

David Butler operates a prop and set design business in North Buffalo. He has worked with stage and event productions for many years but more recently, the rise in local film projects has led to an increase in demand for his wares.

"It's certainly helping the economy," Butler said. "Even when we're doing things out of town, we're purchasing a lot of stuff and making things here, and then loading up a truck and taking it to another location."

Butler and his peers were busy Tuesday readying the workshop for an anticipated visit by film producers. Without revealing details - both Butler and Clark cited a need to honor non-disclosure agreements - Butler and the people he hires on a freelance basis are preparing to take on at least two film projects that are eyeing the Buffalo area for upcoming shoots.

He estimates he has worked on 15 films, ranging from large studio projects to small independent productions, over the past three and a half years.

"It's crazy but we're loving every minute of it," Butler said. "It's just really fun and exciting."

New York State has extended funding for the tax credit through the year 2022, at $420 million per year.

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