NYC reboot: Film and TV production revving up across city, report finds

U.S. film director Spielberg works on the set of a film outside the New York State Supreme Courthouse in New York
U.S. film director Steven Spielberg (C ) works on the set of a film outside the New York State Supreme Courthouse in New York September 8, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

Despite COVID-19, television and film production in New York City is roaring back, says a new report by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

According to the report, the sector is returning to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, when it was responsible for some $82 billion in total economic output. 

“The report makes clear what we’ve long known – that the film and television industry is a significant economic driver providing high quality, well-paying jobs and generating significant revenue for the local businesses that support it,” said Kris Bagwell, executive vice president and managing director of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens. 

Besides it’s total economic output, the film and TV industry also provided some 185,000 jobs and $18 billion wages for New Yorkers in 2019, when a record high of eighty series were shooting in the City. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was a hit to the industry; production was shut down for months, and some 25% of industry jobs were lost. But the recovery, as with many industries, has been precipitous, and production has now touched pre-pandemic levels, with at least 34 projects filming this year in New York City. 

“This study brings into focus what we have been hearing from our community,” said Flo Mitchell-Brown, chair of the New York Production Alliance. “After breaking records in terms of investment and job creation in 2019, we were hit particularly hard by COVID…we’ll be back stronger than ever.” 

Before COVID, the film and TV industry was growing at an annual rate of 5% between 2004 and 2019, said the report. This was partially due to state tax credit programs, and partially due to the independent nature of New York City’s production.

Approximately 85% of New York’s production is independent, distinguishing it from Los Angeles and other movie meccas.