New Jersey affords an opportunity for filmmakers to save money by taking advantage of film tax credits, elected officials and heads of motion picture institutions said at a panel Wednesday.
Hundreds of people attended the Diversity in Film and TV Production Forum at Express Newark.
Signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2018, the program aims to rejuvenate New Jersey’s film industry by providing a 30 percent tax credit against corporate business tax and gross income tax for qualified film production expenses and a 35 percent credit for goods and services purchased through vendors located in targeted areas of the state, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. To qualify for the credits, a film must spend at least 60 percent of its total budget in New Jersey or incur more than $1 million qualified production expenses in the state.
The program also includes a bonus tax credit of 2 percent of qualified film production expenses aimed at encouraging companies to develop a diversity plan for the recruitment and hiring of women and minority persons in their productions.
The NJEDA will review these diversity plans in collaboration with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Plans approved for the diversity bonus may receive the credit upon completion if the production company can demonstrate a good-faith effort to undertake the strategies and meet the goals of the approved plan.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said Newark is getting much interest because of the tax credits.
“The best thing about these new tax credits is there is a diversity tax credit for staffs who have women and people of color on their production teams,” Baraka said. “That helps ignite black and brown people who may not have an opportunity to break in to the film industry. … And because we are growing Newark in an equitable way, this is right up our alley.”
New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-37th District and sponsor of the film tax credit legislation, called the Express Newark space an ideal venue to make a movie.
“I grew up in Southern California so I am not happy with New Jersey being called Hollywood East,” Weinberg said. “I want Hollywood to be called New Jersey West. I am happy we have a governor who has a signing pen rather than a veto pen,” she added.