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The Reeler Blog

Variety Throws Four-Oh Bash For NYC Film Office

The 40th anniversary of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting has already spawned a new James Sanders book and spun off a whirlwind of events set for this fall, so I doubt anyone's mind is blown that Variety dropped a related four-part package in today's issue. There's nothing overwhelmingly new here, although Anthony Kaufman's glimpse at the historical tension between producers and unions simultaneously hints at both approaching war and detente:

NYC film commissioner Katherine Oliver at the 2006 Triebeca Film Festival (Photo: STV)

"The national deal that we all signed was fantastic in facilitating lower-budget filmmaking on a regular basis," says veteran producer Ted Hope. "But along the way, the stronger pension and welfare plan put the daily rates at such a level that it's now prohibitive to make lower-budget movies."
"If we don't solve that problem," Hope adds, "we will watch the next homegrown talents shooting in Austin, Texas, or Memphis, Tenn."
When the National Agreement expires at the end of this year, both sides will undoubtedly return to the bargaining table once again. But as DGA Western exec director and former (East Coast Council) head G. Bryan Unger admits, "We have a very stable and pretty deep relationship with independent producers now, but the way we deal with the contracts and cover these pictures is always subject to evaluations, based on market conditions."

Though it's not noted in Kaufman's story, digital filmmaking will certainly represent a significant "market condition" in upcoming negotiations; downsized crews for lower-maintenance shoots are on the way sooner than later. But let's not get into that quite yet -- it's a party! Who else brought presents?

-- Diane Clehane has the centerpiece feature, offering the latest macro view of Commissioner Katherine Oliver's domain (Did you know they offer tax breaks? It used to be a hassle to shoot here? The city lobbied the UN to allow Sydney Pollock to shoot there? What? You did?). In all seriousness, I have nothing but respect for Oliver, but, I mean, is this news?

--Lily Oei provides this embedded report from the toughest cop beat in town: Location Vice, motherfucker, as in: "Get your ass outta the frame," "You got a permit for that orangutan?" and "Yes, Miss Foster, right away Miss Foster."

--Kaufman again, chipping in a nifty bit about kickbacks for productions that use alums of the city's Production Assistant Training Program. Of particular note is the Independent Film Training Grant, which entitles low-budget producers to a percentage of their budgets back when trainees are brought aboard as P.A.'s. Christ. These kids today have all the luck.

Posted at October 16, 2006 1:13 PM

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