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Tribeca Film Fest: Comedy, Drama & Tax Incentives

The seventh annual Tribeca Film Festival kicked off Wednesday morning, with a big press conference at which New York Governor David Patterson announced that he signed a bill increasing New York State tax credits for TV and movie production from 10 to 30 percent.

With New York City filming incentives at 5 percent, productions that shoot in Manhattan will get 35 percent incentives on local costs, from catering and costumes to actor salaries.

And Patterson said this payment will be made in one lump sum, not piecemeal. (New York already also has another great asset for filmmakers: the city's office which helps book locations and shut down city streets.)

Filming revenues in New York have been second only to California. (Mayor Bloomberg joked this morning that California's huge advantage is that its governor actually has a history in movies. Noting his recent cameo in 30 Rock and his upcoming appearance in "Baby Mama," Bloomberg joked that when his term is over in 2009, his next career is acting.)

But with Connecticut offering 30 percent tax credits, the neighbor state has been stealing lots of New York's film business. (Luckily, the TV industry is more dependent on infrastructure, so it's been sticking in the state, thanks to the likes of Silvercup Studios where a number of TV shows are filmed.)

And with Rhode Island, Massachussets, and Michigan also recently upping their deals for filmmakers, New York wants to maintain a top spot.

The film incentive wars are certainly heated and can be emotional and it's often just a movie scene that'll spark an incentive. When "The Departed" -- set almost entirely in Boston -- was shot almost entirely in New York, Massachussets needed to up the ante. There's something glamorous about getting film productions to your state, and during a tight economic period like this I can particularly see why New York wouldn't want to slip in the rankings.

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.