people standing and smiling for picture in front of fire place

A new analysis of the film sector in Westchester County found it generated over $1.1 billion of economic activity in 2021, County Executive George Latimer announced. The report shows the industry supported 3,784 jobs and nearly $356.8 million in wages, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the number of production days rose to an all-time high of 1,288 days of filming in the County.

Latimer made the announcement at an event hosted by Westchester County Tourism & Film at the Edith Macy Center. Over 150 representatives from the film industry and Westchester locations and municipalities participated in the program, designed to foster collaboration on filming in Westchester. The event, which featured speakers from State government, local municipalities and the film and television industry, focused on best practices on how to boost the filming appeal of a given location - which in turn boosts tourism economic revenue.

Latimer said: “The message from this report is clear: The film industry plays a leading role in generating investment in Westchester. Every film, television, and commercial production brings economic activity to our County. In addition to providing thousands of jobs for our residents, productions are using local vendors, increasing foot traffic to local stores and restaurants, hiring our talented residents, and showcasing our incredible locations to audiences around the world.”

Westchester County Tourism & Film Director Natasha Caputo said: “The data show that the collective efforts with our partners to attract new film business are paying off. The fact that we have exceeded pre-pandemic numbers speaks to the quality and diversity of our locations and affirms that we are creating a welcoming, film-friendly environment.”

In addition, the industry generates significant fiscal benefits for businesses and communities, contributing $7.4 million in sales tax, lodging-related tax, and permit and property rental fees. In 2021, 946 tourism jobs were created as a result of the film industry. 

President of the Westchester Hotel Association and General Manager of the Cambria Hotel in White Plains Sean Meade said: “We’ve absolutely received a boost from the film industry. We’re happy to cater to film productions, whether to welcome crews after a long day of shooting or provide a unique location for filming. The industry has become an out-of-the-box source of revenue for us.”

Another benefit of the film industry in Westchester is “screen tourism,” Caputo added. “Our locations — such as Lyndhurst, the Belvedere Estate, and the Hudson River Museum/Glenview Historic Home — have been featured in popular shows, resulting in a boost in visitors at those locations.” The award-winning and popular shows that filmed in Westchester in 2020 and 2021 included The Blacklist (NBC); Dickinson (Apple TV+); The Flight Attendant (HBO); FBI and FBI: Most Wanted (CBS); The Gilded Age (HBO); Law & Order: SVU (NBC); Only Murders in the Building (Hulu); Severance (Apple TV+); Succession (HBO); and The Watcher (Netflix).

Meeting Industry Needs
Film business has steadily grown due in no small part to the services provided by Westchester County Tourism & Film. The film office provides location guidance, offers technical visits, and facilitates the permit process. The support makes a big difference in choosing where to film, according to many industry professionals.

Location Manager for HBO’s The Gilded Age Lauri Pitkus said: “What’s helpful about the film office is the coordination between agencies. They understand what we do on a day-to-day basis when we come here to film and in one phone call can get everyone on board. We can achieve many different looks in one area. It’s a turnkey operation.”

Mike Hartel, location manager for the show FBI: Most Wanted (CBS) agreed: “They understand our needs and pave the way for successful filming. Westchester provides a wide range of looks and plenty of space to park trucks and equipment, set up complicated shoots, and establish base camps. Whether I need a traditional English garden, a Florida marina, a suburban home, or a wooded area, I know that Westchester has a location and facilitators to make filming as easy as possible.”

Latimer added: “This economic impact report points to a film industry boom in Westchester County. It shows that film professionals want to come here to access locations, talent, and economic advantages. It also demonstrates Westchester’s ability to compete and leverage our significant assets—locations and people—and capitalize on the significant opportunities resulting from the marketplace demand for content. Through sustained collaboration, we will continue to see this sector grow.”

New Methodology
Previously, Westchester County Tourism & Film calculated the economic impact of the industry based on a model used by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), which included permit revenues and production days in Westchester and its municipalities. With that formula no longer being updated by AFCI, the County commissioned a new report from Camoin Associates, a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in economic impact analysis.