As the state continues to ramp up its increasingly popular film tax credit program, officials are rolling out a new software piece that film producers can use to digitally scout potential filming locations across the state.
The New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission recently began using The Reel-Scout software – a digital online library that will include 10,000 existing images, and potentially thousands more, according to a Tuesday announcement.
“Each region of New Jersey has its own unique characteristics and we’re putting them on full display,” the commission’s Executive Director, Steven Gorelick, said in a prepared statement.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the state’s film tax credit program into law last year. His predecessor, Republican Chris Christie, allowed a smaller version of the incentive to expire in 2011 before it fizzled out for good in 2015.
The program provides a 30 percent tax break for filming in the state, or 35 percent for filming in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer or Salem counties.
Digital media companies can win tax breaks of up to 20 percent of their expenses, or 25 percent if they film in South Jersey.
Businesses have to spend at least 60 percent of their expenses on goods and services from state businesses. They can also obtain a 2 percent diversity hiring bonus.
Several prominent productions were recently filmed in the state after receiving incentives, such as WB Studio Enterprises Inc.’s film “Joker” which was shot partly in Newark, and Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” which is being produced in Paterson.
Lawmakers want to expand the program, following revelations by the Economic Development Authority – which oversees the program – that demand is outstripping supply and more businesses want incentives than the state has available.
The program is capped at $425 million total – $75 million for film and $10 million for digital media projects, and the EDA said that there was $52.6 million left out of the $75 million available through June 30, 2020, but $62.9 million being requested by applicants.
Assembly Bill 5580 would extend the program until 2029 rather than its 2024 expiration date. The measure also calls for raising the cap on the film tax credit program from $75 million to $100 million, but it would keep the cap at $10 million for digital media projects.