Legislation signed by the governor Tuesday could put a Hollywood spotlight on New Jersey.
The Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act provides film and television production companies with business and gross income tax credits for certain expenses incurred while filming in.
The legislation counteracts former Gov. Chris Christie’s 2016 veto of these credits, which was blamed for loss of potential jobs and the opportunity to highlight the state.
“In the past, South Jersey served as the set for a number of movies, but Trenton’s high taxes forced the movie industry and the jobs they create to find other locations,” said Sen. Chris Brown, a sponsor of the act. “Our bi-partisan bill will allow the film industry to invest right here and take advantage of our unique locations — such as our beaches, boardwalks and even Lucy the Elephant — which will create job opportunities for our local working families while boosting the economy for our hotels, restaurants and other small businesses.”
And it’s needed.
“New York is overflowing,” Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Classics and a longtime New Jersey resident, told Deadline.com. “And people are tired of shooting there. There are a lot of rules and restrictions that weren’t there when the incentives started.”
Even before the 2016 veto, New Jersey wasn’t considered friendly to the film industry. It was among reasons given as to why “Boardwalk Empire” — the HBO version of Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson’s book about Atlantic City — was not filmed in the town.
“We have been fighting for these credits for eight years,” Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said. “I am grateful that Governor Murphy saw the value in them. The film industry has deep roots in New Jersey. Fort Lee is where the movie industry began. These credits will ensure that New Jersey remains a player in this constantly evolving industry.”
New Jersey birthed the film industry with the invention of the first movie camera by Thomas Edison, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald pointed out.
“New Jersey is known as the birthplace of the film industry, yet we’ve seen a decline in film and television productions over the last several years,” he said. “This is a strategic investment that will not only make New Jersey a leader in this industry once more, but it aims to create long-term jobs throughout our state and will stimulate our economy.”
In addition to the creation of financial incentives for film and digital media companies, the bill also incentivizes companies to make significant efforts to hire diverse cast and crews. The Economic Development Authority will verify that production companies have made good-faith efforts toward that goal before receiving additional incentives.
“The film and digital media industry is poised to become a dynamic part of New Jersey’s economy, one that will create good-paying union jobs and countless residual benefits to the economy,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “By signing this legislation, we are allowing these companies to take advantage of New Jersey’s unique culture, location, and geography. I look forward to seeing the many projects that will come out of our great state thanks to the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act.”
“We will now be able to advance our objective of reinvigorating the film and digital media industries In New Jersey,” said Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo. “There is a natural synergy between digital technology and the film industry. We want to position New Jersey at the forefront of new developments, new technologies and future opportunities.”
The law will take effect immediately.
“Not only will this bring more jobs and revenue to New Jersey through the increased number of films that will be shot here, but crew members will then eat, sleep and do countless other things in our great state,” Assemblyman Gordon Johnson said. “This will help Main Street first and foremost.”