Television shows are ditching the Hollywood panache for the row houses and long boulevards of Queens.
Silvercup Studios in Long Island City is booked solid this year with production crews filming a record number of pilots and shows. With new series for CBS and HBO, the television boom at the studio is in part due to the extension of a film tax credit from New York State.
“The difference was the tax credit program –which was sun setting [ending] – was renewed for five years” said Alan Suna, chief executive for Silvercup Studios.
The film credit has attracted about 22 new cable and network pilots this year, compared to three last year. There are now seven shows being shot at Silvercup out of 23 total shows in New York City, according to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
Filming for three new CBS pilots are in the works – “Unforgettable,” a crime solving show, “A Person of Interest,” another crime solving show from producers J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan, and “A Gifted Man,” about a special doctor, according to Suna.
Film production is ongoing for a new HBO pilot, “Girls,” described by Suna as a younger version of “Sex in the City.” The studio also hosts filming for popular shows such as “30 Rock,” “Gossip Girl,” “How to Make it in America” and “White Collar.”
The film credit was extended last August and allocates $420 million a year until 2014. The incentive refunds production companies 30 percent of all qualified costs incurred in New York State.
Since the incentive began in 2004, it has brought in more than $9.7 billion in economic activity to the state, according to Pat Swinney Kaufman, executive director of the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development.
In the first seven months of this year, the department has received 97 applications for the tax credit – with production crews spending a total of $1.35 billion, Kaufman said.
Many of the small businesses in Queens have benefited from the surge in feature films and television series being shot at Silvercup and their neighbors, Kaufman Astoria Studios.
“When they’re shooting – they cater lunches, but when they’re not shooting, they’re drawing upon the local restaurants,” Suna said.
The production crews also take advantage and shoot at many Queens locations and use storage spaces since Silvercup does not have that much space, he said.
Occupancy space is definitely limited at the Long Island City studio. Silvercup is almost booked for the year with little availability for much else beyond the seven shows now being filmed.
“It’s the busiest we’ve ever been,” Suna said.