It’s time for New Jersey to reclaim the hundreds of millions of dollars in TV and film production. That was the theme of a panel eager to off tax credits to the industry. Correspondent Lyndsay Christian spoke to Fort Lee Film Commission’s Tom Meyers about the effort.
Christian: So Tom, you participated in a symposium along with Sen. Loretta Weinberg and the mayor of Fort Lee, casting directors and producers all of whom are passionate about bringing the tax credit back to New Jersey, specifically for film and television production. There’s so many reasons why it would be beneficial to the state. Tell me.
Meyers: Well, it would be huge for the state, and not just in cities like Fort Lee. You’re talking about a positive impact to a place like Atlantic City that was the entertainment capital in America into the 19th and early 20th century. This could reinvent Atlantic City if we get an aggressive tax credit like or better than New York. You would see studio space in Atlantic City, in addition to North Jersey. It benefits the community in terms of jobs. It benefits the community in terms of money they bring in to restaurants, to rent locations. We saw that in Fort Lee when we still had a tax credit and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”came in a lot, the Chamber of Commerce was so thrilled with the economic benefit that they gave us a specific award, the Fort Lee Film Commission, to bring that production in. And, residents also took part when their houses were rented. So it was a huge benefit to our economy and we can see that as a state benefit. On top of that, this is the industry that was born in the state of New Jersey, the film industry. The first studio in the world was in West Orange, New Jersey — the Black Maria, Thomas Edison. The first American film town was Fort Lee where Universal and FOX started. So, it’s bringing an industry, in a way, back home. And people who say it can’t be done, look to what New York has done, look what Gov. Cuomo has done to the point where they have more production of television series than ever before. And, they rival, if not surpass, Los Angeles. I think they do surpass Los Angeles now and that’s beneficial to the economy of New York and we are getting nothing of that now.
See more at NJTV.