By Annunziata Gianzero
Part One of this article, which appeared in last month’s issue of WestView (http://westviewnews.org/2017/02/started-fun-city-part-one/), recounted the beginnings of the NYC Film Commission and Mayor Lindsay’s influence on bringing the film industry back to New York. In case you haven’t noticed, it worked. Last year marked the 50th birthday of the Commission (now called the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, or, MOME), which is celebrating a $9 billion annual industry in what Lindsay originally dubbed “Fun City.”
Today, meet the new “film czar” (as industry folk like to call the Commissioner of Media and Entertainment), Julie Menin, who blazed onto the scene last February with an armload of initiatives designed to support more artists, generate more jobs, and foster a diverse entertainment industry. She’s a powerhouse and, if you know anything about Julie, you understand that she’s spent years fighting for diversity, gender equity, small businesses, green initiatives, and the arts. And guess what? Her current and upcoming slate of projects reflects exactly that. (Isn’t it nice to have people in government with integrity?)
We recently sat down with Julie Menin and discussed the new initiatives and opportunities for media-makers in the City. (Watch the video interview above where Julie goes into more detail on these topics.)
So what’s new with the Film Commission? Well, firstly, it’s not just a Film Commission anymore. Upon her appointment, the office expanded to include theatre, music, advertising, publishing, digital content, and real estate (as it pertains to the creative industries). That equals 385,000 jobs for New Yorkers, which is “more than the financial and insurance sectors combined,” she says. This means that her office can have a tremendous impact on the City’s economy.
How exactly is she accomplishing what she set out to do? She has already launched five women’s initiatives, among them a $5 million grant program for women filmmakers/playwrights and a TV screenwriting contest, which produces and airs the selected pilots on Channel 25 (the City’s own network).
Publishing too? Did you know that 50% of New Yorkers get their news from ethnic and community papers? If you’re reading this, you’re already a fan of community press; the MOME also believes in their value. Because they understand the multi-tasking that happens at smaller papers (George Capsis is smiling now), the MOME has given a $1 million grant to the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism to train 1,200 aspiring ethnic and community paper journalists in new media.
Here’s a “Fun City” community-building initiative: Julie’s One Book, One New York program is designed to get all of NYC reading the same book at the same time. Can you imagine? These New Yorkers, who talk to anyone on the street or subway, all discussing the same book? Imagine the added benefits of promoting literacy and supporting your local bookstore. How cool is that?
What’s next? The MOME is pioneering the first-ever Virtual and Augmented Reality Lab supported by government money, and they intend to keep pace with this new entertainment wave. Potentially, that move could create even more film and tech jobs, and establish NYC as a leader in the field. Additionally, the MOME implements its NYC Film Green program this summer, which encourages and rewards sustainability measures on film sets.
What else should our readers know? Julie wants to hear from New Yorkers, about what’s working and how to improve. The MOME has an extensive staff focused on making this burgeoning industry work for us. All hail the new czar!
New York is a leader. We lead by example. In the Village, we are dedicated to being inclusive, cutting edge, and artistic. We care about preserving our communities, our eco-system, and our small businesses. So does she.
Additional information on the MOME’s new initiatives is available at: http://www1.nyc.gov/site/mome/initiatives/initiatives.page.