One can imagine John Krasinski doing a Jim Halpert-like stare into the camera after the Orchard Park Village Board this month passed a new law mandating expensive film permits.
Krasinski, who played the deadpan Halpert on NBC’s “The Office,” is the director and star of “A Quiet Place 2,” the sequel to his 2018 movie that is filming around Western New York. The makers of the Paramount film plan to shoot scenes at the village’s railroad depot in August. Village officials were unhappy with their negotiations with Paramount over a contract; their solution was to pass a law governing all filming in the town, present or future. The law set three tiers of required permits, with fees ranging up to $4,000 per day, more than five times what Hollywood charges for filming.
Just when Buffalo Niagara is ready for its closeup, building on the success of “Marshall” and other feature films that set up shop here, Orchard Park is shouting “Cut!” Or, more accurately, “Cut us in.”
Shooting movies in a town can be disruptive. Road closings, postponing of town events and the need for extra police and emergency personnel are expected. That’s costly, and it’s not unfair for the municipality to expect to be compensated.
But Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark told The News that the village should have billed Paramount for the associated costs, rather than installing a permanent permit fee. The bill for police time was already being handled separately.
“A Quiet Place 2” is expected to fall under the second tier of the village’s permit structure, meaning Paramount will pay about $2,000 per day. Rather than welcoming the film with open arms, Orchard Park is trying to pick Paramount’s pocket.
Paramount can afford it, but the village’s pricey permit policy is shortsighted. Films bring economic development dollars with them that more than offset the costs they incur, even when factoring the state film tax credit.
State Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, told WBFO-FM in March that the tax credit statewide “returns 15 cents on every dollar.” That’s a benefit that Orchard Park should be nurturing, not sabotaging.
Bill Kennedy, president of White Lion Studios and a Niagara Falls city councilman, explained to The News that when film crews work in Niagara Falls, they pump money into the local economy.
“That’s where you get your revenue from: the bed tax, the hotel and restaurant fees that come back to the city,” Kennedy said. “You create jobs. Your businesses benefit.”
If officials in Orchard Park thought about that, you’d never know it. The Village Board and Mayor Ann Litwin Clinton never consulted with the Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner about its negotiations with Paramount or its new permit structure.
The film commission’s Clark says scouts from other film companies are steering clear of the Village of Orchard Park when they hear about the fees.
It’s not smart to chase the film business out of town. Let’s hope that “A Quiet Place 2” doesn’t turn into the last picture show for the Southtowns.