New Jersey’s Film Industry is Ready for Action

Comedic actor Adam Sandler and NBA star LeBron James are ready to take their talents to New Jersey. The upcoming Netflix film Hustle is co-produced by Happy Madison production company and SpringHill Entertainment, which was founded by James and friend Maverick Carter. In August and September 2021, filming commenced in Camden, NJ. The movie will star Newark, NJ native Queen Latifah, along with Robert Duvall, Ben Foster, Juan Hernangómez, and María Botto.

New Jersey's Legacy in Film Continues

There is a long history of television and film in New Jersey, pioneered by Thomas Edison at his laboratory in West Orange. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, he and his team invented the Kinetograph and Kinetoscope as well as the world’s first film production studio, The Black Maria. Soon after Fort Lee, NJ, became the silent film capital of the world before Hollywood became Hollywood. The proximity to New York City and the diverse landscapes ranging from open fields to rural neighborhood streets to the cliffs of the Palisades made Fort Lee an ideal location for the brand-new film industry. At its height in the mid-1910s, the town had 11 working studios including Fox Film Corporation, the Goldwyn Picture Corporation, Éclair Studios, and The Solax Company.

Fast forward to today, New Jersey offers some of the most competitive film tax credits in the U.S. and has seen robust activity with film studios locating here. New Jersey’s geographic diversity and the New York/New Jersey entertainment talent pool have created a strong desire amongst many filmmakers to shoot here. It’s no wonder why many TV shows and films shot in New Jersey are receiving Hollywood’s top awards. In 2020, Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar for Best Actor for this role in Joker – filmed in Jersey City and Newark. Best Picture nominee The Irishman, starring New Jersey’s own Joe Pesci, was partially filmed in Paterson. 

New Jersey also offers support from the New Jersey Film Commission and full cooperation from local municipalities. Director Steven Spielberg, who chose Paterson, NJ, to film the remake of West Side Story, was impressed with the city’s receptiveness: “We spent three extraordinary weeks filming in Paterson, New Jersey. To the people […] of Paterson, thanks not only for putting up with our trailers, tents, cranes, and mid-street dance sequences; from the bottom of my heart, thanks for the warm welcomes we encountered everywhere, from pedestrians and policemen and neighborhoods and kids. We couldn’t have made our musical without you.”

Supporting the Motion Picture Industry

The New Jersey Film & Digital Media Tax Credit Program allows filmmakers in NJ to produce exceptional content while staying within budget. The tax credit, awarded by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), is equal to 30% of qualified film production expenses in northern New Jersey, or 35% of qualified film production expenses incurred for services performed and tangible personal property purchased through vendors whose primary place of business is located in southern New Jersey counties. In addition, New Jersey falls within the New York Studio Film Zone located within a 25-mile radius around Columbus Circle.

  • 25-mile studio zone from Columbus Circle in NYC
  • 30% film tax credit in northern New Jersey
  • 2% diversity tax credit bonus for plans to recruit women/minorities

New Jersey is championing a more inclusive and diverse business model in film and TV. As the 4th most diverse state in the nation, New Jersey’s tax credit includes a 2% diversity bonus for qualified plans to hire women and minorities for leading creative positions and production crew.

Coming Soon: Movie & TV Projects Filming in NJ

Steven Gorelick, executive director of the New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission, predicts that  the film industry could bring in more than $500 million for the State in 2021. Highly anticipated films shot right here in New Jersey are set to premiere this year, including West Side Story and The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to the HBO series The Sopranos. But the camera is still rolling on several productions for both the big and small screens. Here’s a look at some films and TV projects currently shooting here.

  • Chase
  • Empires of Excess
  • Hacks
  • The Roots Less Traveled
  • Hustle
  • Room 9 Sequel
  • FBI: Most Wanted
  • Salem’s Lot
  • The Food That Built America
  • America’s Big Deal
  • Jules
  • A Good Person
  • The Kitchen

Cinelease Studios Opens in Jersey City

On August 6th, Governor Phil Murphy cut the ribbon on the largest film studio in New Jersey. With the reinstatement of New Jersey’s film tax credit in 2018 and its subsequent expansion last year, the opening of Cinelease Studios represents the accelerated growth of film and television production in the State. The studio features 40-foot ceilings and 70,000 square feet of stage space, along with workshop and flex space. Projected to book two to four major television and film productions a year, Cinelease will put 200 to 400 film crew technicians to work and support ancillary vendors and service providers.

Why Film in New Jersey

location

New Jersey may be the 4th smallest state, but it’s one of the most topographically diverse in the nation. Production companies are more frequently using New Jersey to replicate other major cities. Top urban areas for film, including Paterson, Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken, offer industrial, historical settings. From the Jersey Shore, to bucolic farms, to the Kittatinny Mountains, and the New York City skyline, you can find everything you’re looking for.

Accessibility

New Jersey’s world-class infrastructure includes nearly 2,900 miles of interstates and highways and extensive mass transit such as NJ Transit, PATH, and Amtrak trains. Newark Liberty International Airport and other nearby airports offer nonstop flights to 340 domestic and 260 international destinations, so cast and crew can travel easily.

Talent

Outside of California, New Jersey is home to the most experienced film and television professionals such as screenwriters, set designers, and caterers. You don’t have to bring people in to make movies and TV shows here – they live here. New Jersey’s vast network of vendors and support makes that possible.

Concierge Services

From tax credit assistance to scouting film locations, The New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission’s Production Services Directory catalogs over 1,000 New Jersey professionals and services that cater to the film, television, and digital media industries. It also highlights a list of certified minority, women, and veteran-owned production-related companies.

Get the Most Out of Filming in New Jersey

As filmmaking is reinvigorated post-pandemic, Choose New Jersey is eager to help you create a full-scale production and provide access to those crucial assets studios are looking for. As a non profit economic development agency for the State, all services rendered are complimentary. To learn more about our services for film and media or schedule a consultation with a member of our team, please contact us today.

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Bill Noonan
Business Development Director