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NIAGARA COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Continuing Professional Education

Buffalo-Niagara Film Production Industry

Buffalo-Niagara has an untapped potential for creating a viable film production industry. However, the growth of this industry is dependent upon the development of a skilled local workforce.

Buffalo-Niagara’s Advantages:

  • An economy that makes cost of production affordable
  • NY State tax credits for productions
  • Availability of sound stages (WNED, Pierce Arrow), cinema quality cameras and gear (ND Studios, FilmKiln, Gribbins Films)
  • Youthful population
  • Diverse and distinctive architecture and urban/rural locations
  • Scenic locations (i.e. Niagara Falls, Niagara Gorge, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario)
  • Historic locations (i.e. Fort Niagara, Erie Canal Locks, Buffalo grain elevators)
  • Vibrant arts community
  • Proximity to Canada
  • Transportation: Buffalo-Niagara Airport/ Niagara Falls International
  • Active and supportive film office
  • Growing interest in the area as a location for both small and big-budget productions. Some notable productions 2015-2016:
  • “A Mother’s Revenge” (Lifetime Movie Network)
  • “So Alive” (Goo Goo Dolls music video)
  • “The American Side” (feature film)
  • “The Apprentice: It’s A Wrap” (feature film)
  • “Tonight” (Young Squire music video)
  • “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II” (feature film)
  • “Marshall” (feature film)
  • “Mercy” (Netflix)

New York State ranks second for jobs in the film industry behind California (www.labor.ny.gov).The film industry has had a significant economic impact on Western New York since the Buffalo-Niagara Film Office was established in 2001. In 2015, the money spent on film production in Western New York was approximately $15 million. The benefit to the local economy was considerable. For example, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II” movie added an additional $7 million to the local economy over the course of two weeks. (http://www.buffalorising.com/2015/08/the-power-of-film-in-buffalo/) With an average annual income of $61,280, the motion picture industry is one of the highest paying fields in the U.S. (work.chron.com/pay-scale-film-crew-1903.html ). 

Additionally, a growing number of independent films, which range from $200,000 to $1 million, are being shot in the Buffalo-Niagara area. While opportunities for working in the film industry continue to improve on the local level, one factor that has been hampering growth is the lack of a trained local workforce to serve as crew for productions. There is a small cadre of experienced professionals in the Buffalo-Niagara area but not enough individuals with the right kinds of skills and expertise to meet the growing demand. This is particularly true in entry-level positions such as Production Assistant, Grip and Electric, and Camera Support.

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