They may be more at ease in a Flame suite or tinkering with telecine, but over the last few years New York’s post community have been flexing their political muscles in a bid to boost the industry and create jobs.
They’ve been lobbying New York politicians to create and then increase post production-only tax incentives. A ten per cent post-only tax break came into effect in 2010, but since then the industry have campaigned to increase that to 30 per cent.
“New York is the only state that has a post-production tax break. A lot of states have production and post intermingled as one incentive. The set up in New York now creates motivation for projects to go to the city for post, even if they have been produced and shot elsewhere,” explains Marcelo Gandola, president of the Post New York Alliance, which has been campaigning tirelessly to implement the changes.
Political lobbyist is a million miles from Gandola’s day job – he’s the SVP of Deluxe Creative Services. But when the post community came together to form the Post New York Alliance, Gandola was keen to get involved. While campaigning, Gandola received heavy support from Deluxe, including Stefan Sonnenfeld, president of Deluxe Creative Services Group and founder of Company 3. Gandola and Sonnenfeld agreed that the campaign was for more than a simple tax break, but to grow jobs and strengthen the industry as a whole.
“It’s powerful to see so many people coming together. It’s not political, there are Democrats and Republicans working together. I never realised how powerful it would be. I’m passionate about working with politicians and industry to make a real change in people’s lives. In a year from now it will be interesting to see how many jobs are created and retained,” he says.
The Post New York Alliance hopes that by working with schools that they will be able to feed the new jobs with new talent. What’s more, at a time when many people are losing their jobs, the hope is that a strengthened industry can provide opportunity for re-training. This in turn will bring in people from different sectors with a different skill set.
It’s been a long road for Gandola and the Alliance which has involved just as much education as campaigning. “New York State put together a production incentive for feature film and scriptedtelevision that went into place a few years ago and which has really helped the production industry. It benefited post somewhat as people would come to New York to shoot, but they would pack up and go back to LA and London,” he says. “Education was needed as the people who made these laws didn’t understand the differences between production and post. The two parts of the industry overlap but are also very different.”
After the initial success, the group soon found that to implement substantial change they’d have to keep campaigning. “We started lobbying in early 2010. In October 2010 the State passed a post-production-only incentive. At that point it was only ten per cent and it didn’t move the needle enough. We learned pretty quickly by mid-2011 that it hadn’t made enough of an impact and that we need more.”
For now the post-only tax credit only affects feature film and TV work, but the Alliance hopes that by continuing to work with State legislators they will be able to create a similar scheme for commercial work.
As for Gandola, the experience has also given him the opportunity to get closer with the other members of the post industry and he has found the experience hugely satisfying. “It is really rewarding for me, not only as a native New Yorker but also as someone who has been part of an industry that has given me so much - it was nice to be able to give back.”