If you are a novice to the film business - an aspiring producer, a first year film student, a makeup artist looking for a first break - there's one thing you should know: we're here to help. Yes, we work with major Hollywood mega-films and network TV shows, but we are just as ready to engage with film students and first-timers to do whatever we can to help them realize their creative vision and their career ambitions in New York State. So with that in mind, here are a few tips on getting started we hope you will find helpful.
First, use our website. Go to the Resources tab and check out the link to Organizations and Associations. You will find some great organizations there, like the Independent Filmmaker Project (www.ifp.org) and Shooting People (www.shootingpeople.org) that offer all sorts of invaluable advice and support to independent filmmakers, including industry mentoring, job boards, festival news, insights on everything from fundraising to distribution, plus a wide range of programs specifically designed to help you get the cameras rolling and then get your production in front of an audience when it’s done.
In addition, these groups offer opportunities for that most vital activity of the film industry: schmoozing (aka networking!). It can't be stressed enough how important it is when starting out to do whatever you can to put yourself in a position where you can meet and interact with other people in the New York State film community. By joining organizations and support groups like New York Women in Film and Television (www.nywift.org) and the International Documentary Association (www.documentary.org), you will receive invitations to events where you can meet and mingle with the people you need to know. Industry networking groups don’t only exist in New York City; groups like Upstate Independents (www.upstateindependents.com) in Albany have been formed in regions all over the state. To see what might be available in your area, contact your local film office – they’re all listed on this website under the Regional Film Offices tab.
In fact, contacting your nearest regional film office is another important tip. Film offices are there for the express purpose of helping grow the film industry in their area, and they do that by helping filmmakers find what and who they need, from filming locations to camera cranes to production assistants. Your local film office can not only help you with making your own production, they can also help you network to productions happening in your area that might have employment opportunities. If you don’t see a link to an office in your immediate region, give us a call and we will help connect you with the people and resources nearby, wherever you are in the state.
Film festivals offer another great networking opportunity, and there are festivals of all sizes and types in every region of New York State. If you have a film to show, of course that’s one way to participate in a festival. But festivals also often need volunteers and interns, which will put you in the thick of the action - right where you want to be. Working as an intern or a volunteer for a festival or other industry event can bring you into contact with established, experienced industry players and, at the same time, expose you to creative work from other filmmakers from all over the state, the country and even the world. To see a list of New York State film festivals, click on Useful Links under the Resources tab on this website.
Also, if you aren’t already following us on Facebook and Twitter, or are not yet signed up for our monthly newsletter, get that going now. In addition to the steady stream of New York industry news and happenings, we post updated schedules and deadlines for film festivals around the state. Much more than that, our social media postings and newsletters will introduce you to the people, the companies and the trends of the New York production community on a real-time basis, keeping you abreast and informed of the who-what-where and when of the biz in the Empire State. Go to the links on the Homepage to sign up and to catch up on past issues of the newsletter and press releases.
Be sure to go to the Tax Incentives tab on this website and read up on state tax credits for production, post production, commercial production and the sales tax exemptions for most production related expenses. The bottom line on any production is the bottom line, and as a new member of the New York film community you need to know that New York State has some of the most succesful tax credit programs in the country. These are highly effective, targeted incentive programs that can make your projects more affordable and accessible, and help bring more productions, and the jobs that go with those productions, into New York State.
In the fall of 2013, a team from the Governor's Office of Motion Picture & Television Development travelled all over the state holding regional New York Loves Film workshops at film schools and with regional film groups in the Mohawk Valley, North Country, Finger Lakes, the Capital District, Southern Tier, Mid-Hudson, Central and Western New York and more to talk about tax credits, accessing state properties like prisons and highways, swap ideas about where to find great locations, and just generally answer questions and share information about shooting in New York State. These workshops were very successful in so many respects, and we're not done yet. We have more of the informal face-to-face sit downs scheduled for the months ahead. Our goal is to bring the Governor's Film Office not just to the entire state geographically, but also to the entire range of New York based filmmakers, from seasoned professionals to first year film students. We want to make sure everyone is aware of the progressive, proactive production related policies and programs New York State has to offer.
Just because you're new, we don't take you for granted. Feel free to Contact Us to send us a question. And remember - if it's in the script, it's in New York State!