The Real Impact of State Motion Picture and Television Production Tax Credits

by Kate Bedingfield 01/28/2014 11:30 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

A USA Today story that posted last night on the economic impact of statewide film and television production tax credits unfortunately omits important facts that would have been helpful in presenting a balanced story.  While the piece accurately notes that productions spend heavily with local vendors and small businesses including lumber, dry cleaning and lighting, it fails to take a comprehensive look at the economic benefits that have been reaped by states that have built and maintained a robust credit program.  The motion picture and television industry is a portable one, and producers need a consistent, reliable economic environment in order to plan to bring production to a state.  That’s why states like Georgia, Illinois and New York have enjoyed such economic benefit in the form of jobs, spending and tax revenue.  You can read about some of their successes here, here and here

Numerous studies over the past two years have shown that incentive programs for film and television production have resulted in a significant return on investment for a number of states including Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York and Florida.  Unfortunately, the story doesn’t mention any of this data.  

These programs generated new revenue for state coffers, created tens of thousands of jobs and stimulated business for local vendors.  In short, they provided an important economic boost to the state.  Here are a few highlights from those studies:

  • New York: A December 2012 study found that production incentives supported 28,900 jobs and generated $6.9 billion in economic spending in the state in 2011.  The study also found that jobs within the film and TV industry in New York grew by nearly 25 percent between 2008 and 2011 – even while private sector employment as a whole declined by 1.6 percent during that time.
  • Florida: A March 2013 study on the economic impact of the Florida Film and Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program estimated that state and local tax revenues in Florida in the 2011-2012 fiscal year totaled $547 million.  The study also found that the incentive supported 87,870 jobs and $2.3 billion in labor income, as well as $7.2 billion in economic spending across the state, both through production spending and induced tourism.
  • North Carolina: An April 2013 analysis of the economic impact of Iron Man 3, which filmed in North Carolina, found that the film was responsible for $179.8 million in spending and 2,043 jobs in the state.  The analysis also found that the production was responsible for $104.1 million in labor income across North Carolina, and that spending associated with the film engaged 719 vendors in 84 communities across the state.
  • Massachusetts: A May 2013 study on the economic impact of the Massachusetts Film Tax Incentive Program found that for every $1 of film tax incentive awarded in 2011, $10 in spending was generated.  A total of $37.9 million in film tax credits generated $375.3 million in economic output, and the incentive was responsible for 2,220 jobs in the state.

Nearly 40 states around the country have implemented programs to encourage the local production of movies and television in their communities for one simple reason: motion picture and television production is a driver of local economic growth and capital investment.  When looking at the economic impact that these credits have on local economies, it’s important to look at the whole picture. 

More state-by-state statistics on the production tax incentives can be found HERE.

Award Season Isn't Just About Red Carpets

by Senator Chris Dodd 01/14/2014 11:56 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

The 2014 awards season got off to a rousing and hilarious start Sunday night as more than 20 million viewers tuned in to watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host the Annual Golden Globes Awards for the second year in a row and gave the show its highest ratings of the past decade.

Just as they will do with every awards show in the coming weeks, the fashion experts critiqued the fashion choices of our favorite celebrities walking the red carpet; pundits and industry experts gave their two-cents on which movies, TV shows, and actors would win in each category; and for three hours we all joined together to celebrate another great year for a truly remarkable industry.

Not to be outdone by all those looking to have some fun with this year’s awards, The MPAA has once again partnered with Brandwatch to build on the success of last year’s Social Oscars program.  Last year's tool, hosted on the MPAA's content site TheCredits.Org, collected and analyzed social data and used it to correctly predict 15 out of 18 Oscar award winners.  This year, we have expanded the scope of predictions to include almost all of the award shows.  And by calling Andy Samberg’s surprise win for Best Actor the other night, this year’s Social Awards Season is off to a great start.

But while everyone enjoys the glamour of the red carpet, or trying to see if they can pick the winners, it’s important to remember that the American film and television industry is much more than what we see on the red carpet.

Every day, nearly 2 million men and women all over this country wake up and go to work in a job that either directly or indirectly depends upon this industry.  Many of these are the folks whose names we  barely notice in the credits at the end of a movie or TV show – the carpenters who build the sets, the stuntmen and stuntwomen who make us believe that human beings can perform superhuman feats,  or the caterers who feed the hundreds of cast and crewmembers on each production. These are the people whose skills are essential to making this one of the most innovative, entertaining, and successfully American industries year after year – and most of them will never receive any type of public recognition for their contributions.

But it’s not just the people who work on a film or TV set that benefit from this industry. Every time a film or TV show is being made somewhere in the United States, local businesses and local economies are benefitting from it.  For a film production, that means an average of $225,000 flowing into the local economy each day of filming.  And for a place that calls a TV series home, like Albuquerque, New Mexico where Breaking Bad filmed for five seasons, it means years of stable income for local businesses, steady employment for locals, and years of residual tourism benefits as loyal fans come to see where their favorite shows were made.

So as we celebrate the power of films this year like 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyer’s Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street that  brought important periods in our history to the big screen; or the thrill-rides like Iron Man 3 and Gravity that continued to push the boundaries of visual effects, it’s important that we all take some time out to think of all those who worked behind the scenes for months or even years to make them possible – and thank them for the many hours of entertainment we have all come to enjoy because of them.

This post was originally posted on HuffingtonPost.com and can be read in its original format here.

 

The 2014 Social Awards Season

The 2014 Social Awards Season

Promoting and protecting the screen community in the Philippines is my passion

by Joji Alonso 01/09/2014 14:39 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Joji Alonso is the winner of the 2013 MPA Asia Pacific Copyright Educator (A.C.E) Award.

It’s well known that the Philippines is a movie-loving nation, with an admissions per capita rate at 0.7 per cent and a box office that has enjoyed a 25.6 per cent growth in revenue from 2008 through 2012.

I am pleased that in recent years a number of Filipino films have earned recognition in the international arena, and in that respect, the era of digital technology has been a big boost to the industry. In the past, only films with support from the studios were released theatrically. Now, anyone who has produced a film may find a way to the big screen without the getting too involved in any complex contracts. And it looks like it can only get better. The Film Development Council of the Philippines projected that movie screens will increase from roughly 700 to 1,000 in just the next two years – good news for all filmmakers looking to play to a wider audience.

My vision and passion is to discover a new generation of talent. If I were to quote my mentor, Armando Lao - we can never create a wave of Filipino films with a group of only five to ten filmmakers. The more filmmakers we have making more films for a wider audience, the better. However, we face the major challenge of how we develop audience respect and appreciation for our films, which is a long-term educational process.

When I look back on my film career, I think the highlight was when Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (The Woman in a Septic Tank) was nominated as the Philippines’ official entry for the 2013 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. When we made the film, we simply concentrated on telling the best story to the best of our ability, and never imagined the heights it would reach – though I had a good feeling it might go places.

I am gratified to say that the films I got involved in gained some recognition through various festivals around the world. Kubrador (The Bet Collector) - directed by Jeffrey Jeturian, was screened in over 100 festivals and has earned 38 awards both local and foreign.

Here Comes the Bride will remain a personal favorite as it went against commonly held belief that one needed big stars to make it at the box office. The film grossed more than 130 million peso (USD2.9 million). This year, Chris Martinez, Eugene Domingo and I will team up again in Kimmy Dora 3 for the Metro Manila Film Festival, in partnership with Spring Films.

When I first got into film production and saw pirated DVDs of my film productions being sold for the profit of others, I felt robbed of my creation. It felt worse than having money stolen from you. The time and effort my crews and I put into film involves more than a commercial figure.

The experience led me to believe that the best way to empower people is to educate them, which is why I’ve produced and hosted a television show called Legal Forum for the last 21 years.

It’s important to remind everyone that camcording is stealing and you do not need a law to tell you so. The passage of the Anti-Camcording Law in the Philippines played a critical role in helping protect the interests of the local movie industry, which is still struggling from huge losses due to content theft. The law is now regarded as a shot in the arm for our industry when it was needed the most.

However, news headlines this year recorded too many incidents of illegal camcording occurring in our cinemas. While great efforts are being made to prevent these incidents from taking place, even more diligence is required from our screen community and the authorities if we are to ensure that a zero tolerance message is delivered to these criminals. All of us in the Philippines need to take a tough stance as these criminals should not be allowed to damage our vibrant community.

I was honored to receive the MPA Asia Pacific Copyright Educator (A.C.E.) award this year at CineAsia in Hong Kong, and especially so being the first female recipient of the A.C.E. Award. I am just one voice representing the screen community in the Philippines, so I’m fortunate for the recognition.

I believe that it’s vital for all of us to work together to win over our audiences and help them to understand that they are an important part of the film and television value chain. Audiences, creators, distributors and exhibitors need one another to develop a long term, sustainable entertainment and cultural experience that we can continue to enjoy and enrich us.

 

Joji Alonso recieving the ACE Award at CineAsia on December 12, 2013

At CES, Michael Lynton and Vince Gilligan discuss how technology has made for better TV storytelling

by Kate Bedingfield 01/08/2014 13:25 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment and Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan highlighted the positive impact that subscription video on demand (SVOD) services are having not only on the economics of making TV shows and movies – but on how our favorite stories are actually told.

“When I started out on shows like The X Files,” Gilligan said, “the conventional wisdom was that serialized storytelling was to be avoided, that one episode completes the story.  SVOD allows a hyper-serialized form of storytelling and gives people the freedom to access content when they feel like it.”

“Now we have five to six SVOD services competitively bidding on TV series and films that never existed before, both in first run as well as syndication. It has changed the economics dramatically for us – but in a positive way,” Lynton added. 

The discussion was an important reminder of the degree to which technological innovation and storytelling are inextricably linked.  Technology is giving creators more freedom to tell stories the way they want to.  “When I grew up, TV series were framed and cut to a smaller screen size which led to a lot of talking heads,” Gilligan said. “With giant, wide TVs, you get to frame and emulate John Ford or Sergio Leone and, in the case of Breaking Bad, you can place characters in an endless expanse of Mexico prairie which gets to look very painterly and cinematic. That's a wonderful development.” 

As the technology that allows creators like Gilligan to tell stories and the technology that delivers those stories to audiences continues to evolve, consumers reap the benefits.

In the U.S. alone, there are currently more than 95 online services for streaming and downloading legal content, including iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and Flixster.  (A list of these services can be found at WhereToWatch.org.)  There are more than 410 unique online services around the world offering legitimate full-length films and TV shows to consumers.
 
At yesterday’s CES event, Sony said it would give consumers yet another option by launching a new cloud-based TV service this year that combines live TV with video on demand.  It will include a “watch and resume” function that allows consumers to seamlessly switch devices in the middle of a movie or TV show.
 
The continued growth of legitimate VOD services gives audiences ever more ways to watch our favorite movies and TV shows. As it turns out, they actually also help creators produce the type of content we enjoy watching most.


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