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Film Connecticut


 

This site will cover the worlds of film, video and the visual arts in the state of Connecticut, beginning with coverage of the Connecticut Film Festival from May 4 to 10, 2010. One of the most important places in the Northeast Corridor of the United States, the state of Connecticut is fast emerging as a go-to destination for innovation in new technologies and the visual arts.


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Connecticut Push For Film And TV Production

 

Connecticut Studios, South Windsor, CT 

At last week's Connecticut Film Festival (www.ctfilmfest.com), the movers and shakers of the Connecticut film scene assembled at a seminar panel to discuss how film and television production is a vital component in the state's initiatives to create jobs, attract professionals and help the state climb out of the biggest deficit in its history.

Economic advisors for several cities in the state as well as the head of the Connecticut Office of Film, Television and Digital Media, talked about the ambitious plans already in place and those coming in the immediate future that will have a direct impact on the economic health of the state as a whole.

Remarkably, Connecticut, a state that has some of the wealthiest individuals living in it, is dead last in the United States in the area of job growth. What this has meant is a stagnation of economic progress and career development, forcing many of its native sons and graduates of its prestigious universities to look for career opportunities elsewhere.

"While we are set up to attract outside production to come shoot in our state, what we are really after is creating a homegrown industry where professionals have enough work to sustain a career and call Connecticut home", George Norfleet, the head of the CT Film Office stated on the panel. The CT Film Office, or its more formal designation as the Connecticut Office of Film, Television and Digital Media, is the primary contact for statewide film, television and media production. With 3 tax credit programs (production, infrastructure and digital animation), an on-line Production Resource Directory and Location Gallery, the Office serves as a clearinghouse for information, economic incentives and services that make Connecticut an ideal production location.

The incentive program is among the most powerful tools the state has in attracting production shoots and establishing the state as a permanent studio destination. In 2006, the Connecticut General Assembly established a tax credit program to encourage the production of digital media and motion pictures in the state.  The legislation makes it possible for eligible production companies to receive a tax credit on a sliding scale of up to 30% on qualified digital media and motion picture production, pre-production and post production expenses incurred in the state.

As exciting as the production incentive are the incentives put into place to encourage the growth of infrastructure projects. When studios or post-production facilities are built and maintained, that translates into permanent jobs and a stable tax base. One of the most exciting developments in this area is Connecticut Studios, a proposed full service, state of the art motion picture and television studio, production and post production facility to be located in the town of South Windsor. The facility will include a total of 495,000 square feet of newly constructed space, including eight sound stages, post-production suites, executive offices and other amenities, all utilizing renewable energy sources for power. Connecticut Studios (http://ctstudiosllc.com/) is a partnership between Los Angeles-based Pacific Ventures and Providence, RI-based Halden Acquisition Group. Pacifica is a specialty-asset management and real estate development company that develops, builds, owns and operates studio facilities that provide a range of production support services. Pacifica Ventures is the owner and operator of the highly successful Albuquerque Studios, which has brought major productions and innovative jobs to the state of New Mexico.  

Other ventures coming into play include Point Stratford and Dogstar Studios in the town of Stratford, computer animation company Blue Sky Studios in Greenwich, and the Connecticut Film and Digital Media Center and the Stamford Media Center in Stamford, one of Connecticut's economic powerhouse cities. In fact, Stamford (only 40 minutes away from Manhattan) is positioning itself as a major player in attracting film and television productions, having recently been chosen to produce the Jerry Springer and Maury Povich television shows (both produced by NBC Universal), as well as the new Showtime series THE C WORD starring Laura Linney and Oliver Platt. As an added bonus, many of the above facilities involve repurposing of abandoned factories and industrial spaces, thus giving new life to historic structures that are part of the state's manufacturing past.

With all these ventues in place and more coming down the pipeline, a serious issue addressed at length at the seminar was the need to attract skilled technicians to service this plethora of production opportunities. To this end, the CT Film Office collaborates with the Office of Workforce Competitiveness (http://www.ctfilmworkforce.com/) to develop the necessary workforce comprised of Connecticut residents to ensure that this emerging industry in the state is sustainable. These initiatives concern both working professionals and union members and students looking to break into the film and new media fields.

Of course, many other states around the country have aggressively been courting productions, facilities and talent. As explained by an economist invited to the panel, investment in this arena has a "multiplier effect" that justifies initial funding outlay for a number of economic and tax incentives, including patronizing of local businesses outside the media environment. What Connecticut has going for it, aside from the diversity of locations (cities, country, mountains, seaside) and highly literate work force, is its proximity to New York City, the second largest production magnet in the US. "We are right next door", George Norfleet concluded. "And we feel that this proximity makes us ripe to attract all kinds of productions and talents that still need to have a connection to the big metropolis to our west. We are primed to be a big player in this arena and evidence of that is already in place."

Sandy Mandelberger, Film Connecticut Editor

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