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Ulster County Launches Film Finance Program

The Ulster County Executive announced Tuesday the launch of a film finance program to encourage more film, media and television productions to film in the county. Four local banks will administer the program.

Ulster County Executive Mike Hein announced the program at BCDF Pictures in Kerhonkson, 10 months after New York’s film production tax credit was extended to the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

“Our film financing program is extraordinary. It’s the next step,” Hein says. “It’s an $8 million commitment by our local financial institutions to industry-specific lending to make sure that we can do things extraordinary and more films can shoot right here in the Hudson Valley.”

The four banks committing the $8 million for 2018 are Bank of Greene County; Catskill Hudson Bank; Ulster Savings Bank; and Wallkill Valley Federal Savings & Loan. One part of the new film finance program offers bridge financing on approved New York state tax credits for bonded productions. Bill Calderara is president and CEO of Ulster Savings Bank.

“Especially for the tax credit financing, which is that bridge financing, we’re looking for films that are already in the can,” Calderara says. “We’re really looking to fund that period of time between the time that the tax credit application is submitted and the time that that application is approved in and they get the funds, which could be a year or two years in that process.”

He says there is another type of lending available.

“The rest of the financing program really can go across all types of, well, that’s, again, post-production is, could be facility financing for someone who wants to move a production facility here or buy equipment to do film editing or sound editing or the rest of it, which does fall into more traditional… like manufacturing financing, and we’re very familiar with that,” says Calderara. “But we wanted to take the time, learn the industry. It’s a new program for us and it’s been very exciting. We’re learning a lot.”

Laurent Rejto is commissioner of the Hudson Valley Film Commission as well as co-founder and director of the Woodstock Film Festival, which takes place this week.

“One of the things that we try to do during each festival is to convince filmmakers to come back and make their next film here,” says Rejto. “This is going to make it that much easier to do.”

Plus, he says:

“It’s really satisfying to be working in an area where people understand that filmmaking is manufacturing, and having banks come on board like this, and the county executive, County Executive Hein, to push that is kind of mind-blowing because a lot of people don’t understand that,” Rejto says. “But being able to keep jobs local and being able to create more economic development and give young people a future instead of having them move away to California or Brooklyn, it’s enormous.”

Again, Hein.

“There’s no question that the goal here is to embrace the entire industry from small, independent films and, again, to understand that we really are standing on the shoulders of giants like the Hudson Valley Film Commission as well as the Woodstock Film Festival who have been nothing short of amazing,” says Hein. “But the reality is growing it to this next step and having it really hit kind of a critical mass here is going to be driven by the economics, and that’s something that we’ve been very focused on.”

Amy Hutchings welcomes the news and says she’s seen the benefits of the tax credit. She’s a casting director for feature films.

“I think that I have worked on six films in Ulster County since January, which is usually a very, very slow time here,” Hutchings says. “And they have gone from Kingston down to Ellenville and beyond. But it’s been a really exciting period.”

Rejto says that since the new film tax credits went into effect in November of 2016, the Hudson Valley Film Commission has seen a 50 percent increase in film production.

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