Sustainable Filmmaker Antonio Saillant Opposes Gov. Christie's Veto of Tax Breaks for Film Industry
In his veto statement, Christie said the state Legislature had chosen to advance "an expensive bill that offers a dubious return for the state in the form of jobs and economic impact," and that the bill would create a $60 million annual cost for the next seven years to fund film and digital media tax credits.
The State is in need of support in order to approve or look into the case for the return of vetoed Digital Media and Film Tax Credit. Senator Loretta Weinberg, a sponsor of the bill, said the incentives benefit the economy because these production groups spend money and create jobs.
Why reinstate the Film Tax Credit in the State of New Jersey?
1. It would create jobs.
2. It would bring television and film productions and visitors to the state and celebrate Fort Lee's rich film history.
3. It would preserve New Jersey's motion picture legacy.
This issue has caught the attention of filmmaker and energy/green advocate Antonio Saillant, who lives in New York City-[but grew up in Northvale, NJ] and attended Northern Valley Regional High-School of Old Tappan, could well be called a Renaissance man - a man with many passions and talents.
Antonio's passion is filming an eco-friendly film in New Jersey based on a true story about the 1979 Old Tappan football team entitled "The Golden Knights," and tells the tale of how a losing program began to sow the first seeds of promise and pride in the school and surrounding towns. The whole turning point of the Golden Knights was 1979. His older brother Angel was on the 1979 team.
Bill Medea coached the 1979 team. The team lost 25 straight games. If there were a way to lose a game, the Golden Knights would find it. "They started being successful and then they won states in 1985, and THE JOURNEY continues. In 2015 the Golden Knights were the centerpiece of their NJ first title win in 30 years. The Golden Knights ended two long droughts when it finally knocked off nemesis Wayne Hills to complete the greatest season in school history in the NJSIAA/SportsCare Institute North Jersey, Section 1 Group 4 Championship game at MetLife Stadium.
Antonio Saillant, executive producer on "The Golden Knights" and chairman/founder of Planet Greenfest, part of nationwide powerful keynote speaker for the Green Festival Expo which his main focus is to help develop sustainability in the entertainment business and the world.
His efforts to do his part in the global race to prevent climate catastrophe-for being a leading voice for energy policy to protect the quality of life. He is truly dedicated to tackle our region's energy challenges and harness the economic opportunities presented by clean renewable energy.
One key challenge he is facing is focusing on filming 100 percent sustainable. [Freedom With Green] - When it comes to climate change, there's no time to wait!
Antonio was excited to hear that his hometown high school team won the 2015 State Title. He believes that cinema is an art-form and has his heart set to produce an up-close-and-personal film about the 1979 Old Tappan's Golden Knights Football Team. But unfortunately the tax credit that was originally designed to encourage television and filmmaking in the Garden State, Governor Chris Christie called for an end and as we all can remember, Gov. Chris Christie - who killed a $420,000 state tax credit in 2011 for the hit MTV show "Jersey Shore," arguing it tarnished the state's reputation - has again vetoed new efforts to revive incentives for film production in New Jersey.
Antonio stated that, "He would not hand an Oscar to the NJ Governor for Best Political Action Move and he won't get his vote for the presidency - for vetoing efforts to bring back film-industry tax credits in New Jersey."
Let's not forget, soon after, important shows like "Law & Order SVU" producers moved filming across the Hudson River to New York City, which offers as much as $240 million annually in credits.
Gov. Christie forgets that before Hollywood, movies came to Fort Lee when pioneer companies started to look for new filming locations. For a history lesson about "Before Hollywood, There Was Fort Lee" visit www.fortleefilm.org/history.html.
Cinema has always held a very important place in his life. Antonio seeks inspiration in film, theatre, music, art - and in watching other filmmakers create a masterpiece from just an idea. He never feels jealous of another filmmaker: Antonio always feel there is so much to learn from them.<
He discovered the works of filmmakers like Ted Kotcheff, whose career as a director at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, then on to London to direct live TV and theatre and finally the big screen with films including North Dallas Forty, First Blood, Uncommon Valor, and Weekend at Bernie's. Winner of the Directors Guild of Canada's Lifetime Achievement Award. Executive producer behind Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Auteur behind the critically acclaimed Wake in Fright and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
Antonio had the privilege to know the late Sydney Pollack, whose films received a total of 48 Academy Award nominations, winning 11 Oscars. Pollack directed more than 21 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 films or shows, and produced over 44 films.
Very early on, he was lucky enough to watch movies that have marked the history of cinema. Antonio met great people that work in the film industry and now, he also heading to the direction to make movies. Antonio guesses it is a logical extension of all this.
Learning from Kotcheff and Pollack was definitely a stepping stone in the right direction. Everything you read, learn or experience changes you and your goals for who you want to become. You should strive to constantly develop your relationship as you develop yourself.
But, Antonio's biggest inspiration for developing this film is his late brother Angel Luis Meneses, who actually was one of the Captains of the 79' Golden Knights so it's personal with him and those guys.
A few years ago, the NY Post stated: "While New Jersey is a popular setting for many movies and TV shows - like HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire,' set in Atlantic City, and the Oscar-winning 'Silver Linings Playbook' - most are not actually filmed there. The HBO show is filmed in Brooklyn and 'Silver Linings' was shot across the Delaware River in neighboring Pennsylvania, which has capped its film tax credit at $60 million a year."
Antonio has high hopes that by the time the film starts production that the NJ Film & Television tax credit will be reinstated. Regardless he plans to move forward with the film.
For example, scenes of the film version of Broadway's Jersey Boys were shot in Newark, Kearny and Boonton, but producers never sought tax credits.
Everything in history is a product of events and people before it. There are many stories which have never been told, or even known, of how the local area developed. One dream to proclaim the facts has been launched. Antonio always advise the up-coming students in this industry that the things that you found inspiring when you were starting out usually stay with you. I am sure the members of 1979 The Golden Knights will agree.
Antonio want's to impress upon all of you, as well as the governor's office, that [New Jersey has] a proud history of the arts and Antonio cannot believe that a program like HBO's Boardwalk Empire, chronicling a slice of our state's history, was actually filmed in Brooklyn rather than Atlantic City. The reality is that BOARDWALK EMPIRE chose to go to New York with higher production costs because they could recoup those losses through [New York's] generous tax credit.
The Motion Picture Association of American says film and television incentive programs create jobs and economic opportunities. The high cost of making movies and television programs today virtually guarantees that any state that doesn't offer some form of tax incentive is certain "to lose out on the lion's share of the business.
Without this bill it would damage the state's reputation for future potential foreign and domestic investors looking to invest and expand future film and television operations. We urge you to support S779 to ensure that films that are about NJ, Stays in NJ and New Jersey becomes a top location for global film investment and the jobs it supports.
Support the NJ Digital Media and Film Tax Credit by writing a letter to:
The Honorable Chris Christie Governor of New Jersey
State of New Jersey
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
P.O. BOX 001
TRENTON, NJ 08625-001
In addition, cc: The Honorable Kim Guadagno, Lieutenant Governor, State of New Jersey
Michele Brown, Chief Executive Officer, New Jersey Economic Development Authority Dominick DiRocco, Senior Counsel to Governor Chris Christie
Virgin Group's entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has this advice: "Obstacles and challenges are healthy for everyone, not just entrepreneurs. They force you to thinkoutside the box... to be creative."
Antonio Saillant may be reached at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @angellight and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AngelLightPicturesEntertainmentGroup.