NEW YORK CITY – With the resumption of film and television production, visual effects companies in New York State are preparing to capitalize on a predicted boom in demand. Producers are expected to rely more on virtual production and other visual effects techniques to reduce the need for travel, filming, and crowd scenes. With community support through the Post New York Alliance (PNYA) and financial incentives through the New York Film Tax Credit Program, visual effects companies in the state are well positioned to respond to these needs and continue the industry's recent growth.
"When talking to studios, showrunners and producers, we find that they are re-evaluating the use of visual effects," said Andrew Bly, CEO of The Molecule. "You can shoot actors in front of a green screen and we can make it look like they're on a Manhattan street. Or we can put virtual actors in the background of scenes and remove worries about social distancing. Visual effects can go a long way that productions fill the gaps and take photos safely. "
The New York visual effects industry has seen remarkable growth since 2010 when the state, with the advice and assistance of the PNYA, began offering producers tax credits for visual effects and animation within its borders. Currently, productions can receive a fully refundable credit of up to 25 percent for qualified visual effects and animation costs. The program gives local VFX companies a competitive advantage over providers in Hollywood and elsewhere. As a result, companies have grown, new businesses have sprung up, and employment among visual effects artists has increased.
"Tax credits have been a big part of bringing larger projects to New York," noted Vivian Connolly, CEO of Phosphene. "They also drew high profile artists to New York because they know they will find consistent work." She added that the tax credits have allowed Phosphene to hire more permanent staff and invest in talent.
As for many companies in the entertainment industry, the pandemic crisis posed great challenges for providers of visual effects. The Molecule had no problem converting its tech-savvy staff to remote operation, but as production slowed it had to develop a new business strategy.
"From the start, we looked at it as a long-term problem and put a plan in place to bring us down," noted Bly. “We were fortunate to be part of the 30 Rock Reunion Special and other projects that helped us work through it. We were also fortunate to have strong leadership from the state government. "
Connolly said that for her and her partner, John Bair, the greatest concern was not to let COVID-19 undermine the creative team they had built for years.
"From the start, John and I were determined to do whatever we can to keep our team," said Connolly. "So far we have managed not to take anybody off."
Now, The Molecule, Phosphene, and other visual effects companies in New York are not only looking to bounce back, they are aiming to achieve new levels of success in a manufacturing market with an increasing need for high quality visual effects.
"The types of shows we oversee come back to production with a different perspective on visual effects," added Bly. “Schedules can be longer and they may rely more on VFX than in the past. Everyone will need a safe plan. It will take trial and error, but we will keep moving. "
Another benefit of the pandemic is a greater sense of community among otherwise competitive companies. Connolly believes that will continue.
"I think there will be more collaboration and more sharing of resources and information to get the job done," says Connolly. "We have to support each other because it's a small universe, and New York is set up for that."
Bly agrees that PNYA has been a positive force not only in advocating government programs like the New York VFX Tax Credit, but also in building a fraternal spirit.
"You can't just take, you have to give something back to the community," Bly concluded. "I believe that if you focus on things that are beyond your personal benefit, there will be positive energy that will return to you."
Source: Post New York Alliance