Film industry

Officials say the tax credit has helped the film industry succeed

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the Hudson Valley was the perfect location to shoot a movie last year. In fact, 2021 has broken records for the valley’s film industry.

Since 2000, Laurent Rejto has served as executive director of the Hudson Valley Film Commission, and he says this year saw the most money ever spent on filmmaking in the region. Rejto adds that this is possible thanks to New York’s 25% tax credit for film company production costs.

“For us, it allows a lot of well-trained local professionals to get jobs,” Rejto said. “Good paying jobs.”

But some elected officials say credit gives too much without getting enough back. State Sen. James Skoufis said the state needs an independent audit of this grant, and all other major taxpayer-funded grants, to make sure they actually benefit the state. The Woodbury Democrat says some studies have shown that a movie tax credit does not boost jobs.

“Spending in New York did not have a statistically significant relationship with employment,” Skoufis said, citing a report from the University of Southern California. “Thirteen states recently ended their movie incentive programs.”

Rejto disagrees, saying the return on investment is huge. The film commission’s executive director says the tax credit allows local film production workers, like cameramen and stagehands, to work locally instead of having to travel, and the credit allows people to have a job and income in the region.

“Fifty-seven million dollars of direct spending came into the region,” Rejto said. “These are direct expenses related to the production itself; it doesn’t include if someone buys a house, someone buys a business here.

He added that without the tax credit, film projects will go out of state. After the year the industry has just gone through, that would be particularly devastating.

“This is the Hudson Valley; it’s about hiring locals and keeping them employed,” Rejto said. “So we’re counting on the tax credit to continue the success we’ve had.