Ocean County is trying to be the Hollywood of New Jersey
Hollywood! Tinseltown! La-La Land! Whatever you want to call it, the film and television industry may be returning to Ocean County now that Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act.
The Board of Freeholders has voted to establish the Ocean County Film and Television Advisory Commission to collaborate with the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Development Commission to entice filmmakers and TV producers into bringing their projects to Ocean County.
Freeholder Joseph Vicari is spearheading the project, saying that filmmaking and television production in Ocean County would contribute to economic growth, create jobs and even put the county on the map nationally.
The movie industry began in Fort Lee, says Vicari, but it left because of tax incentives. The state began offering tax credits for film and television production in 2005 but Gov. Chris Christie suspended the program in 2010, saying it was not affordable. But the new state law, signed by Murphy this month provides up to $75 million in tax credits for film production and up to $10 million for digital media over five years.
"Ocean County is a very desirable place for people to live and for tourists. It's actually almost a $5 billion a year industry just in Ocean County," says Vicari.
He says Ocean County is the second-largest county in the state. It has 44 miles of oceanfront property. It has a natural estuary, the Barnegat Bay, and 60 percent of its land that's preserved so it's open space. There's an airport and military bases so filmmakers and TV producers have a variety of places and things to film.
The population goes from 580,000 in the winter to 1.3 million people in the summer.
The last major movie filmed in Ocean County was the 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate," starring Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Liev Schreiber.
Bringing the film and TV industry back to Ocean County would not only bring in more money in but also to give the county a positive imagine nationally, says Vicari.
He says the movie industry has been looking at Ocean County for many years and the only thing that stopped it was the tax incentives that's offered in other states. Places like Long Beach Island and Island Beach State Park have so much to offer, he said.