It wasn’t always Hollywood
When we think about the US film industry, our thoughts immediately turn to Hollywood. New Jersey might not be the first location that springs to mind. However, as film was invented in the Garden State, it is keen to promote its newly invigorated film industry.
The state’s top exports have historically been precious and semi-precious metals with a big dollop of beauty and skincare. However, there is more to New Jersey than manufacturing. It may be home to iconic brands like Campbell’s soup, but its film locations have been the backdrop for many recent screen blockbusters. Filmmakers can capture New York’s skyline from the Jersey side of the state border, and the Appalachian Mountains create a compelling backdrop. In addition, New Jersey has the shore and acres of bucolic farmland to lure location managers.
A pioneer in entertainment
New Jersey prides itself on being a pioneer in the world of entertainment. Thomas Edison and his team invented the first motion picture camera and forerunner to the film projector in West Orange in the late 1800s. The world’s first film production studio, called the Black Maria, was built by Edison in the grounds of his laboratory.
In the 1900s, Fort Lee was the silent film capital of the world and boasted eleven major studios. However, most of the filmmakers had moved out to Hollywood by 1915. In Hollywood, they could not be sued by Edison for infringement of his motion picture film patents.
First casinos outside of Las Vegas
Later in the 20th century New Jersey looked at alternative entertainment income streams. In 1978, the doors of the first casino outside of Las Vegas opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The resort became a destination of choice for Americans from the Eastern seaboard to come to place a bet. The gambling industry brought new-found revenues to the state’s coffers. However, it was not too long before nearby Connecticut, West Virginia, and later Pennsylvania jumped aboard the gambling train. Casinos sprung up looking to attract residents and tourist dollars alike.
Reinventing gambling through online casinos
Atlantic City, however, continued to thrive because it had a unique mix of seaside and gambling. However, it reached its zenith in 2006. It was not until 2022 that the state’s gambling purse reached the same heights. However, these days it is online gambling which is driving the growth. Always the pioneer, it was in New Jersey that the US’s first iGaming platform was launched in 2013. It started with one, but there are now a considerable number of online casinos operating in the state. You can click here to find reviews of the best the state has to offer.
The rebirth of the film industry
New Jersey’s film industry will be hoping to emulate the success of the gambling industry. They have both reached dizzying heights and then seen success drain away. Gambling clawed its way back through innovation and thinking outside the box. The movie industry is following a similar path. The state is looking to attract filmmakers to the state through a variety of means, but it is the tax breaks that make it particularly attractive.
New Jersey offers one of the USA’s most attractive incentive programs for the film industry. They offer up to 35% tax credit and either a 2 or 4% diversity bonus. There are currently 29 production studios in New Jersey. Lionsgate and Netflix are also opening extensive studio production facilities in the state.
However, it is not just about locations and facilities. It is about people and talent too. New Jersey boasts the densest concentration of film and television professionals outside of LA. From screenwriters to set designers, New Jersey has them all. There is also a vast network of support services to meet the production’s needs. Whether that is catering, drivers, make-up artists, or lighting experts, the people are here to be hired. In 2022 the state’s motion picture industry employed 8,500 people. It is expected that number will increase as new studios open up.
The best connections
In addition, the state is easily accessible, so travel is easy for cast and crews coming from outside. New Jersey is one of the most connected states in the Northeast USA. The state is home to Newark Liberty International Airport. There is also easy regional rail access to New York and Philadelphia.
New Jersey film success stories
New Jersey has already been the location for many blockbuster motion pictures. You might not know they were shot in the Garden State, but titles like The Sopranos, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Oz, Friday the 13th, Malcolm X, A Beautiful Mind, Joker, and West Side Story were all filmed, and produced here. The production values of New Jersey have been exported throughout the world.
Its most famous exports are stars of the silver screen
The state has also exported some extraordinary theatrical talent over the years. Some of the industry’s greatest names have their roots in Jersey. Oscar and Emmy-winning actors like Meryl Streep and John Travolta hail from here. So too, do Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Anne Hathaway, Jack Nicholson, and Queen Latifah.