By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — That bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed late Wednesday in his second-floor office of the Capitol could have a sharp impact on the Western New York economy.
In fact, it may result in increased activity from film and television productions in and around the Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the nation. The governor’s veto message was welcome news to the Buffalo-Niagara area since the bill would have extended the coveted tax credits only to the Hudson Valley counties near New York City.
For the record, the state park here, as well as other regional state parks, hosts several film shoots per year. “Ranging from small two-hour shoots for the Travel Channel show to feature films, we have seen it all,” said Angela Berti, marketing and communications director for the western district of the regional parks commission.
She noted that in the past year, two large features were filmed at Niagara: “Tammy,” a Warner Brothers production starring Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates, set for release in July 2014 and “The American Side,” an independent feature film shot in Western New York for about 25 days with two days the Niagara Falls State Park. “Those movies would have benefitted from the tax credits” Berti said, unlike some currently scheduled TV shows that used the area as a backdrop.
“Filming not only in the state park but in Western New York is great for business,” Berti added, “In our case, Niagara Falls can’t be substituted for another location so it’s great marketing for us — marketing we would not otherwise be able to afford!”
Tim Clark, commissioner of the Buffalo-Niagara Film Commission, contends this area is among “the most lucrative” places in North America to shoot films. He also is confident that numerous film companies from Canada and across the U.S. will be taking a closer look at upstate New York.
It’s estimated the film and television industry in this state accounts for 91,608 direct jobs and $8.2 million in wages. That includes both production and distribution-related jobs.
In 2011, more than 100 movies and 113 television series were filmed in the Empire State. Until now, the state has produced incentives including a 30 percent fully refundable tax credit on qualified expenses while filming in New York, certain sales tax exemptions and an up to 5 percent tax credit on investment in construction and upgrades to qualified production companies.
FULL COVERAGE: The embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford continues to attract media attention around the globe. The Economist, a magazine with huge circulation in Europe and Asia, in addition to the U.S., features an article about the mayor in its current issue. On Thursday, Ford’s photo made the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
THE SCENIC ROUTE: The new guidebook “Waterways of War, The War of 1812,” by Steve Benson and RonToelke (Seaway Trails Inc., 72 pages, paperback, $14.95) provides an overview of the war across the Great Lakes and significant events tied to the present-day Seaway Trail, the byway route that includes the entire Lake Ontario and Niagara River shorelines and the Lake Erie shoreline in New York and Pennsylvania.
SHORT TRIP: “Medina’s Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration” is set for Nov. 30. The family oriented event features a wide range of entertainment, food, crafts, an elf contest, horse-drawn wagon-sleigh rides and a Festival of Lights parade (585-798-2421). It’s only about a 15-minute drive east of Lockport on Route 31.
TRIVIA QUIZ: (Answer to Thursday question) The original nickname of the 365-mile Erie Canal, linking Albany and Buffalo, was ‘Clinton’s Ditch,’ dubbed for New York Gov. DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828).Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.