New York City Film Czar Outlines Growth Agenda (Guest Column)

Julie Menin

The benefits of filmed entertainment should be shared with the thousands of small businesses and individuals who support it.

In the face of rising income inequality, New York City is leveraging the surge in local filmmaking to create new jobs and economic opportunities for working and middle class New Yorkers. Filmed entertainment injects nearly $9 billion to the Big Apple’s economy and employs 130,000 people.

We’re ensuring that the benefits of this economic engine aren’t limited just to the industry, but are shared with the thousands of small businesses and individuals who support it — the caterers, construction workers, makeup artists and set designers — who live and work throughout the five boroughs.

For 50 years, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment has played a key role in strengthening the City’s position as a premier location for film and television production. We’ve created opportunities for New Yorkers to share in this growth through initiatives like our Made in NY Production Assistant Program that provides training for entry-level jobs in the industry.

The program’s nearly 600 graduates — who work on film sets and soundstages across the City — reflect the diversity, the talent and the tenacity of New York. The film industry is providing formerly unemployed graduates with skills, economic stability and meaningful work that helps reduce New York’s pervasive income gap.

And we’re expanding this pipeline even further. We played a key role in the creation of Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, the only public grad school housed on a working film lot. A core part of the school’s mission is cultivating new and emerging voices; 50 percent of its students are women and 46 percent are from minority communities.

We are also home to The Cinema School in the Bronx, the nation’s first and only public film high school — a school that empowers young students from all backgrounds through the creative expression of storytelling.

Through programs like these and others to be launched in the coming year, we are cultivating a diverse and talented workforce, and providing opportunities for all New Yorkers to benefit from the City’s flourishing entertainment industry.

Julie Menin is the Commissioner of New York City Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment. Appointed to the position by Mayor Bill de Blasio in February, Menin’s agency promotes a productive relationship with the entertainment and media industry, including film, theater, broadcasting, advertising, digital distribution channels and music.