In Your Hands – The Future of Filming in New Hampshire
Written by Kerry O’Donnell | Posted by: JMG
In what has become a familiar theme throughout state budget battles through New England, New Hampshire now faces an approximate $140 million shortfall causing the New Hampshire Film and Television Office to come under scrutiny of New Hampshire legislators.
The New Hampshire House Finance Committee’s solution to this budget shortfall was NH House Bill 1664, which passed through the committee on a 24-0 vote. The bill appeared to take a chainsaw to those agencies and programs that not only could least afford said cuts, but many of which stand to lose matching federal grants if the cuts were approved. Programs like out-of-home placement for children, family resource centers, AIDS service organizations, juvenile diversions, dropout prevention, and programs for disabled and brain-injured adults were among the proposed cuts. Yet other, non-social service agencies whose budgets are in the millions, have already received increases instead of cuts. For example, the Travel and Tourism Development’s advertising budget has already been amended $650,000, bringing the total from $7,597,000 to $8,247,000.
Tucked between all these other proposed cuts was the elimination of the entire $113,200 budget for the New Hampshire Film and Television Office, which is the only such resource currently available to both in-state and out-of-state productions. The office provides information such as location sites, crew and services directory, laws and regulations, union and guild information, and much more.
The bill was scheduled for a vote on March 23rd, but at the last minute, after an overwhelming barrage of emails, phone calls, and letters from angry constituents, the House voted to table the bill, 215 to 151. In essence, according to State Senator Bette Lasky, (NH Senate District 13), the bill has been killed. However, it could be reconsidered with a 2/3 vote in the House. Even if the bill isn’t reintroduced, there will still be continued debate about where the cuts need to come from and the NH Film Office budget could still be put on the chopping block.
Matthew Newton, director of the NH Film and Television Office, told NewEnglandFilm.com that for every dollar the state allots to his budget, $9.22 comes back as revenue directly to the state. According to Newton, that $9.22 is attributed dollar for dollar to the productions that he personally comes into contact with and assists.
“After every shoot,” said Newton, “I follow up with the production and ask them to complete a form that provides me with their spend information – how much they spend in lodging, local hires, etc. That all gets tabulated into a general aggregate for the year.”
Newton shared the form he uses. It requests information such as the number of people employed, total work days, and amount spent on payroll. It also asks for a breakdown of expenditures for seventeen other categories, including accommodations, location and permit fees, catering, equipment rentals, and building rentals.
Most of the production companies provide Newton with the information, and for those that don’t, he uses an industry standard estimate (a matrix put together by the Association of Film Commissioners International) based on the spend estimate on the type of project, the size and the number of shoot days. Said Newton, “For last fiscal year, with my budget at $111,000 and a return of just over $1 million, and that’s money I can quantify, that comes to $9.22 for every dollar.”
Newton was pleased with the community that voiced their support to keep the film office open and hopes that the momentum continues to grow. He points out a testimonial video that filmmaker Ken Burns provided the film office with, where he shares with the viewer all the filming in NH has to offer. The video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/nhfilmoffice#p/a/563BD9BED045EA96/0/kssSdh-TgU8.
Newton asks that other filmmakers who have worked in the state provide him with filmed testimonials, such as the one Burns provided. “A minute or two is all they have to film,” said Newton, “and the more we receive, the more we can show the NH legislature just how important a resource the film office really is.”
Visit the New Hampshire Film Office at: http://www.nh.gov/film/index.htm Matthew Newton can be reached at: email@example.com