Governor Cuomo Announces Disney Marvel & Netflix To Bring Epic Superhero Four Series + Mini Series Production to New York!
At a well attended news conference in ABC’s Times Square Studios, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was joined by Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company and Joseph Quesada, Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment, to announce that New York has been chosen as the site for filming of the largest film/television production in New York State history.
The landmark production will include nearly 60 one-hour television episodes, and is expected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in direct investment in New York State and lead to more than 400 new full time jobs, with potential for several thousand more as the production progresses.
To see the full press release, click here.
BROADWAY STAGES BUYS ARTHUR KILL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
Thanks to the successful and stable tax incentive program, the film industry continues to soar in New York State and a recent development brings that success to Staten Island. Empire State Development (ESD) recently announced that Broadway Stages, already a major player in film, television and music video production in New York, plans to purchase the former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island and will transform it into a film, television and music production facility. Broadway Stages will invest $20 million in the project, which will include the construction of five new sound stages totaling 100,000 square-feet and the creation of 800 jobs over the next two years, with as many as 1,500 jobs in the next five years.
As film and television production continues to increase in New York State, the Arthur Kill/Broadway Stages project will provide even more stage options and services to the continuously growing film industry in the State.
To read the complete ESD press release, click here.
Enhancements to Post Credit Under Governor Cuomo Bring New Jobs, New Companies and Nearly $100 Million in Spending
New figures released in early February show that the strengthening and expansion of the post production tax credit championed by Governor Cuomo has had a remarkable effect on the New York post production community, creating more than 240 new jobs, fueling over $25 million in expansion costs for five existing companies, and attracting ten new post companies to the state – three of them upstate.
These statistics demonstrate the remarkable impact that legislative changes championed by Governor Cuomo have had on New York’s thriving post production industry. These changes included raising the film credit percentage from 10-30% (35% upstate) and lowering thresholds to make it easier for productions to post in New York.
The see the full press release, click here.
February 17th marked the beginning of a new era in the New York television scene when, after more than 40 years in Los Angeles under hosts Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show (now The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon) returned to New York City – the home it left in 1972. Along with all the buzz and excitement, the show is bringing millions of dollars in significant economic impact. Thousands of jobs will be created in New York, including an estimated 540 full-time positions and more than 1,500 sketch performers and background actors employed each year. An estimated 1,000 Tonight Show featured talent and visiting band members will be coming to New York for the show, patronizing hotels and restaurants. And that’s not counting the over 50,000 visitors from around the world who will participate as audience members every year.
There is a sense of history and nostalgia because the roots of The Tonight Show run very deep in New York. In 1953, the pioneering comedian/composer/host Steve Allen started a talk program on the local NBC affiliate WNBT, briefly called The Knickerbocker Beer Show before a quick name change to The Steve Allen Show. Given a short, late night slot of 11:20 P.M. to 12 midnight, the show caught on, and after a few tweaks, NBC started broadcasting Allen’s program—now at 105 minutes run time— on the national network in September 1954 with a new name: Tonight! The show was broadcast live from the Hudson Theatre at 44th and Broadway in Manhattan. The format of that early incarnation– an opening monologue, a mix of celebrity interviews, audience participation, comedy bits, musical guests, and a regular house band (the first was led by “Skitch” Henderson) — became the basic structure and rhythm that endures in the show today.
Two years later, as Tonight! grew more popular, Allen was given another program to host, a Sunday night prime time comedy/variety show. In order to give him time to do both, NBC decided to split the hosting duties with another comedy great, Ernie Kovacs. For the 1956-57 season, Kovacs acted as host on Monday and Tuesday nights, with Allen stepping in for the rest of the week.
When both Allen and Kovacs left in 1957, there was a brief departure from the established format. NBC introduced a news and features element, changing the name to Tonight! America After Dark and bringing in several different hosts and bandleaders. The show sank in popularity and affiliates started dropping the program. A major change was needed or Tonight! was going to fade into the dusty archives of television history.
Installing Jack Paar as host brought back the audience. He became one of the most beloved and memorable — as well as temperamental and controversial — hosts in television history. Paar returned the show to its talk/variety format, but with more emphasis on compelling conversation and intellectual banter mixed with the humor. He added political guests to the lineup, including William F. Buckley, Jr., presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. He also brought in a group of supporting players, including Cliff Arquette (as the homespun “Charlie Weaver”), Peggy Cass, Jonathan Winters and Dody Goodman, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, and others to act as regulars in sketches and as recurring guests.
In one of the most famous episodes of television history on February 11, 1960, Paar literally quit the show and walked off mid broadcast, leaving his stunned announcer, Hugh Downs, to finish the show himself. Paar was furious because the network had censored a joke he had told the night before, cutting it from the broadcast. A month later, on March 7th , he returned to the show in a typically dramatic style; he walked out on stage, struck a pose, and said: “As I was saying before I was interrupted…” The audience exploded with applause, and Paar became a celebrity in his own right, a figure of national fascination.
During most of its run, the Tonight Show with Jack Paar was broadcast from Studio 6B (formerly known as the home of Milton Berle’s “Texaco Star Theatre” series) inside the GE Building in New York. Beginning in 1960, it was one of the first regularly scheduled shows to be videotaped in color; it was recorded early in the evening and broadcast from 11:15 P.M. to 1 A.M. EST the same night.
Jack Paar left the show in 1962. His chosen successor, Johnny Carson, is probably the host now most associated with the modern Tonight Show. Carson had been a host of Who Do You Trust?, an afternoon quiz show, and his easy, sophisticated manner, ready wit, and wisecracking style quickly won him a huge following that stayed with him throughout his stewardship. Along with his reliable sidekick Ed McMahon, Carson narrated the American experience through some of the most turbulent decades the country has known, and became a surrogate friend and late night companion to millions. Carson was host from 1962 to 1992. It was under Carson that the show moved from New York to Burbank, CA in May 1972.
From that point on, first under Carson, later under Jay Leno (with a brief interruption from 2009-10 when Conan O’Brien took over) the show was taped in “beautiful downtown Burbank” California. And now, four decades later, New York is very happy to welcome this iconic show back home to where it all began, over 60 years ago.
Filmmaking is big business, and big business means impactful economic activity in New York State. On February 14, 2014, Warner Bros. released its latest film, Winter’s Tale. Last year the production filmed in numerous regions around the State including NYC, Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, North Country and Long Island. During the course of that production, New York benefitted from over $15 million in direct spend with local vendors, as well as job creation for nearly 5,000 local cast, crew and extras to the tune of $26 million in wages.
This is just one of many film and television productions that shoot in New York State every year, take advantage of the generous New York State Film Production Credit program, and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into New York’s economy by patronizing local businesses, hiring New Yorkers, and fully utilizing all the support services New York has to offer.
Recently, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) issued a press release about the economic impact that the production of Winter’s Tale had on New York State (read it here) and recent press coverage also highlights the benefits of the New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program (read here)
For more information on how you can take advantage of New York State’s generous film incentive, visit http://www.nylovesbiz.com/BusinessPrograms/filmCredit.html.
You could say Lydia Dean Pilcher is someone who likes to “start things.” Back in 2002, after working as a producer and line producer on movies like After Hours (director: Martin Scorcese), The Talented Mr. Ripley (director: Anthony Minghella), and Quiz Show (director: Robert Redford), she started her own New York-based production company, Cine Mosaic. Founded with a mission of producing “feature films with an energetic focus on entertaining stories that promote social, cultural and political diversity,” Cine Mosaic has consistently delivered films – The Namesake (director: Mira Nair), You Don’t Know Jack (director: Barry Levinsion), Iron Jawed Angels (director: Katja von Garnier), The Darjeeling Limited (director: Wes Anderson) – that have garnered critical acclaim and awards from festivals and audiences around the world. As a producer, Pilcher has been nominated for Emmys, Golden Globes, Producer’s Guild awards and now, with her 2013 documentary Cutie and The Boxer, an Oscar. Cutie, which already took home the 2013 Sundance Directing Award, was one of three releases from Cine Mosaic in 2013, and while post production on the latest production Sisterhood of the Night is finishing up, she has at least several more starting in 2014, including Fela: Music is the Weapon, an ambitious international co-production based on the life of Nigerian musician and activist Fela Kuti.
Why the focus on social and cultural diversity in her films? “I’m an independent producer,” says Pilcher. “If you drill down on what the word ‘independent’ means, for me it means taking on stories that challenge the status quo, with compelling characters who resonate with different perspectives. Being an indie means you want your films to entertain, yes absolutely, but independent films are made from a place of vision and a real sense of purpose. We want to open up the world and touch people in new and surprising ways.”
That sense of purpose is not limited to her film work alone; Pilcher is an activist and leader for positive change within her industry, too. In 2006, she co-founded PGA Green, the widely respected Producer’s Guild initiative that fosters awareness and promotes best practices on recycling and environmental planning to the film industry through things like the ”Green Production Guide,” a web-based directory featuring over 2,000 companies that provide sustainable and energy saving products and services for film, television and commercial productions. Eight years after founding PGA Green, she still serves as Chair of the program, which has grown into one of the most widely utilized and effective progressive initiatives in the entertainment business (for more on PGA Green, click here).
And she’s not done starting things. Last January, while attending the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, she heard about a study sponsored by the Sundance Institute and Women in Film that painted a bleak picture of the role of women in the film and television industries. The study found that “for the past 15 years, there has been no perceptible change in the proportion of women working behind the camera in the entertainment industry” (Produced by, Jan-Feb 2014). Then and there, Pilcher decided to address the issue of gender inequity; she reached out to colleagues on both coasts and asked them to join her in the effort. By November 11, 2013, the PGA Women’s Impact Network had been formed, with Pilcher and fellow indie producer Deborah Calla as Co-Chairs. Working in collaboration with the Sundance Institute, the PGA Win is now busy creating a variety of initiatives, forums, and programs to address these inequities and promote gender diversity in the PGA and across the entertainment industry. If her track record of success as a producer and with the PGA Green is any indication, change is on the way.
A New Yorker by background (she got her MFA from NYU), Pilcher has participated in the New York State Film Production tax credits on several of her films, including The Namesake, You Don’t Know Jack, and most recently Sisterhood of the Night. “No question, the tax credits have made it possible for me to make movies in New York that previously would have gone to another state with a strong incentive.” she says. “The Sisterhood of Night,” currently in post-production,was not written as New York, but thanks to the tax credits we were able to keep the movie close to home and make it in Kingston, in the Hudson Valley. The whole community got involved as additional crew, vendors, locations, background and day player actors — it was an amazing location for us.”
For Pilcher, the different challenges she takes on are really all part of one vision for herself; there is no separation between her role as an artist, as a producer and as a working member of the production community. “We live in a rapidly changing world, and I see my role, as a filmmaker and as a producer, as part artist and part activist. We have a kind of bully pulpit in the entertainment business, and that’s both a responsibility and a privilege. I love using storytelling to inspire people to think about things differently, and to bring new ideas and issues forward. Maybe we can help motivate folks to exert more control over their lives. Maybe we can make a difference.”
New York State boasts extraordinary talent from Brooklyn to Buffalo, and last month the Grammys put a spotlight on Western New York when they presented the first-ever Music Educator Award to Kent Knappenberger. Being chosen for this award was no small feat, as more than 30,000 initial nominations were submitted from all 50 states. The beloved Knappenberger, who has been a music teacher and choir director at Westfield Academy and Central School for over 25 years, was nominated by students, former students and their parents.
“The Recording Academy and the GRAMMY Foundation created this award to highlight the extraordinary influence of music teachers on the students in and beyond the classroom,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy. “Many musicians would not be expressing their gift for creativity had it not been for the dedication and encouragement of a music teacher who inspired them to pursue a professional career.”
Knappenberger’s curriculum consists of three basic elements: Listening, Composing, and Performing, including composing for film. He not only teaches music to his students, but he inspires their dreams. Music is such a vital component of film, and Knappenberger’s students are taught the basics so they will be well equipped should their dreams lead them towards the film industry. For example, they learn to use an Apple application called “Garage Band” that can outline by a millisecond and manipulate sound, timbre, speed, and texture to use as a building block for a film score – all to reflect or enhance action on the screen. They learn film score from loops, how to identify where the action takes place, and how to compose their own themes. They are taught how music can drive the logical progression of a film, and how to compose for commercials, cartoons and trailers.
The fact that Knappenberger’s nomination for the special Grammy Award came from students, former students, and their parents is a real testament to his dedication to teaching. “I am extremely humbled and honored to be the recipient of the first-ever Music Educator Award,” said Knappenberger. “I believe that this award has already been and will continue to be a tremendous encouragement to all music educators. Besides the attention it has brought to many fine teachers, it brings attention to the importance of music education in general.”
Congratulations, Kent Knappenberger – both for winning the first-ever Grammy Music Educator Award and for your dedication to instilling the importance of music in your students to keep the song alive in New York! We look forward to hearing their film scores in the years to come.
SAVE THE DATE: February – March 2014
Film Comment Selects – February 17-27, 2014
The 14th edition of Film Comment magazine’s essential and eclectic feast of cinephilia presents 22 discoveries and rediscoveries, 17 of them New York premieres, and nine without U.S. distribution, handpicked by the magazine’s editors after scouring the international festival circuit in 2013.
Film Independent Spirit Awards – March 1, 2014, 10pm on IFC
The Film Independent Spirit Awards has made a name for itself as the premier awards event for the independent film community. It’s a celebration of the spirited pioneers who bring a unique vision to filmmaking.
86th Annual Academy Awards – March 2, 2014,
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences encourages excellence in filmmaking through a range of coveted awards. The Oscar statuette acknowledges the very highest level of cinematic achievement. Hosted By Ellen DeGeneres.
Queens World Film Festival – March 4-9, 2014
The Queens World Film Festival prides itself on providing something for everyone - great films at multiple venues and solid, informative panels with opportunities to network, develop ideas and establish contacts.
ReelAbilities: NY Disabilities Film Festival – March 6-10, 2014
The largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities
Rendez-vous With French Cinema – March 6–16, 2014
This edition of Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, a co-presentation of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Unifrance Films, attests to the sheer variety and vitality of contemporary French filmmaking. As always, Rendez-Vous brings together many of French cinema’s most beloved actors.
New York International Children’s Film Festival – March 7-30, 2014
NYICFF was founded in 1997 to promote intelligent, passionate, provocative cinematic works for ages 3-18 and to help define a more compelling film for kids. NYICFF also offers year-round film programming, a touring festival, an online festival, and film production workshops for children ages 6-16.
New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival – March 13-20, 2014
The Festival is the only, now annual, Festival of its kind and encompasses the Sephardim of the Iberian Peninsula as well as those Jewish communities of North Africa, the Balkans, Middle East and Asia.
New Directors/New Films – March 19-30, 2014
Dedicated to the discovery and support of emerging artists, New Directors/New Films has earned an international reputation as the premier festival for works that break or re-cast the cinematic mold. Celebrating its 43rd year in 2014, the festival is presented jointly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art.
Brooklyn Girl Film Festival – March 27–29, 2014
Brooklyn Girl Film Festival’s mission is to showcase the work of women filmmakers from around the world, and bring these artists together for networking in a fun, informative and supportive environment. Films are sought in which a woman plays a key role as a director, writer, producer, cinematographer, or lead animator.
TV & FILM PREMIERES
The Americans – February 26, 2014, 10:00pm on FX
A period drama about the complex marriage of two KGB spies posing as Americans in suburban Washington D.C. shortly after Ronald Reagan is elected President
The Red Road – February 27, 2014, 9:00 p.m. on Sundance Channel
(participated in the New York State Post Production Credit program)
This series revolves around a sheriff struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring Ramapo Mountains.
Non-Stop – February 28, 2014 – Universal Pictures
An air marshal springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account. Starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.
Awakened – March 21, 2014
A modern day Jekyll and Hyde who knows no bounds.
Noah – March 28, 2014 – Paramount Pictures
The Biblical Noah suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood. Starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly.
New York’s Capital Region Growing as a Center for Post Production Sound
Work on a feature film or television show doesn’t end when the cameras stop rolling; there is a huge amount to be done in the complex series of processes and operations collectively labeled as “post production.” One of the most critical and most demanding tasks at hand is the creation and perfection of the soundtrack. From music composition to re-recording to ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), work on the soundtrack has to be handled by experienced, highly trained professional artists and technicians working with advanced technology in state of the art facilities. More and more filmmakers are finding that sound resources are increasing in the Capital Region of Upstate New York.
“Post-production work in the Capital Region has grown in recent years from offering very limited opportunities into a dynamic ‘niche’ industry with tangible growth,” says David Bourgeois, founder and owner of White Lake Music & Post. With 18 employees and five full studios in their Albany facility, White Lake specializes in audio production and post production for a broad range of clients in film, television, and music. Recent projects include the features Fighting for Freedom starring Bruce Dern and Whisper Me a Lullaby, which won Best Feature at the Big Apple Film Festival.
Post producers in the area say there are a number of reasons for this growth. All agree that the highly successful New York State production and post production tax credits have attracted new business and filled many of New York City’s post facilities, making it harder to get space and studio time in the city, particularly at affordable rates. “In many cases, an upstate facility can offer the same quality in service, capability, and personnel as a metro New York facility while offering greater schedule flexibility,” says Bourgeois. “In addition, our reduced property and infrastructure costs are passed on to clients.”
Nathaniel Reichman, an Albany-based supervising producer and re-recording mixer, agrees that price and convenience are factors, adding that the evolution of technology has also played an important role. “In the nineties, we spent a lot of time huddled around a mixing board in a cramped studio in Manhattan,” he says. “Now, the emergence of high-speed internet and HD video has allowed us to do excellent work remotely. And because my overhead is comparatively lower, I am able to do more with the same budget. We record more, explore ideas more fully, and have more time to be perfectionists with our work.” Reichman is currently working from his Albany studio as music producer and re-recording mixer for the new Nickleodeon show Wallykazam!; previous clients include the Emmy award-winning PBS show WordWorld, Nickelodeon’s Bubble Guppies, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series on Fox. Recent features include Comedy Warriors with Lewis Black and Zach Galifianakis on Showtime and Abel Ferrara’s latest feature, 4:44 Last Day on Earth.
While cost and availability are important in attracting the attention of major productions, Ray Rettig of Fingerpaint Post points out that without top quality technical talent and state of the art equipment and facilities, the business wouldn’t be coming to the Capital District. “You have to prove yourself, you have to be vetted by the industry,” he says. “If you don’t produce high quality results that are on par with production standards around the world, you won’t get the business.” Clearly, Fingerpaint has proven themselves: their clients include major network shows Person of Interest, The Walking Dead, Treme, Smallville, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and many more.
The New York State tax credits will have an even greater impact in the months ahead since Governor Cuomo signed legislation last year that extended the credits through 2019, simplified requirements for participation in the post production credit program, and increased the available post production credit funding from $7 million to $25 million a year, starting in 2015. Producers who shoot their films in New York State get a 30% credit on their production and post production costs; producers who don’t shoot here but come to New York State to do their post get a 30% base credit; even better, any post related costs they incur upstate — including the Capital Region — get an additional 5% bump for a total 35% fully refundable tax credit on post costs in the Albany region. “There is a lot of buzz about the 30 - 35% credits,” says Bourgeois. “We’re excited by the prospect of increased business opportunities and that will be a component of our marketing strategies moving forward.”
In the end, nothing is more important to building the region’s post production community than the presence of so many talented, credible professionals with decades of experience like Rettig, Reichman and Bourgeois. “People initially come to this region for the quality of life,” says Rettig. “As time goes on, it’s becoming easier for them to also get their work done here as opposed to travelling to a larger market.” Reichman, who worked in Manhattan for 10 years, agrees: “I loved my years in Manhattan, and I wanted to continue working in this field, but I wanted other things for my family, like a house with a yard and good schools. Music and sound for picture can be a volatile career choice. Living upstate has given me the financial freedom to stay in this career.”
Plus, he says, there’s an added bonus to living in a smaller city: “We do our exterior Foley outside in a nature preserve near my house. We get fantastic sounds that are a struggle to get while working out of an urban studio.”
Tax credits, enhanced quality of life, and a credible talent pool, all within reach of New York City – music to an Albany producer’s ears.
Upstate New York Film Festival Gives Birth To a New Program for Area Youth
Last September 13th –15th,Terry Nelson launched the first Beacon Independent Film Festival (BIFF), the Hudson Valley’s newest film festival, in Beacon, New York. After working in the film production and post-production industries in New York City since 1989, four years ago Nelson decided to make a big change in his life, and he moved his family from Brooklyn to Beacon, New York. Nelson’s professional background is diverse –he was a librarian and an editor at a post-production house, a freelance editor, and a voice-over talent. While establishing his new career upstate as a freelance editor, he became involved in the local arts community and realized there was a lack of a film presence in the area. With abundant local creative talent available, a film festival sounded like a logical next step for Beacon. A festival is not only a great platform to bring together film lovers, but also a great economic engine for local commerce.
BIFF inaugural launch was successful, and Nelson plans to host screenings throughout the year, leading up to the 2014 festival. However, in addition to fortifying the film community in Beacon, an idea came out of the inaugural BIFF that will also benefit Beacon Middle School students who already have career aspirations in the film industry.
These very successful, sold-out screenings generated the idea to extend the festival’s activities to engage the community throughout the year. In addition to screenings, the BIFF Young Filmmaker Program is being launched in the spring. It will be held in one middle school this year with intended expansion and include a mentoring program to expose young students to the many career opportunities in the film production and post-production industries. The eight-week program will accommodate 10-15 students who develop a concept/idea for a film – short, documentary, or narrative feature – and partner the students with local creative and industry talent to guide them through the process. The final product will be screened for family and friends at a local venue.
According to Terry Nelson, “There is a bright future for filmmakers in New York and throughout the world. Our program is a way to engage young people who may or may not know they would like to pursue a career in filmmaking. Most high schools offer film as an elective course, with no further curriculum or program in place. Our BIFF Young Filmmaker Program will expose middle school students much earlier than high school or college, when most young people have already decided a career direction, and hopefully encourage and foster their creative dreams. “
The students will be further encouraged to learn that a couple of the films that screened during the first Beacon Independent Film Festival were actually filmed in and near Beacon, NY, one of which, Palace Living, participated in the New York State Film Production Credit program, and saved 30% on its qualified below-the-line expenses. Palace Living, which is about two 30-ish couples who, upon their retreat from New York City to a crumbling resort in the Catskills, find their relationships fraying as they struggle to adapt to a low-pressure life of leisure. Palace Living was filmed nearby in Rockland and Sullivan Counties in the fall of 2011. Bottled Up by award-winning filmmaker and Newburgh local Enid Zentelisalso screened during the festival. This entire film, starring Oscar winner Melissa Leo, and Josh Hamilton, was shot on location in Beacon and Newburgh, and offers a stirring look into the debilitating effects of prescription drug abuse on a woman and her family.
For more information on the Beacon Independent Film Festival visit http://www.beaconindiefilmfest.org/.
Debra Markowitz, Film Commissioner
Prior to 1989 when Debra Markowitz created the Nassau County Film Office, there wasn’t an office dedicated to helping attract the film, television and commercial industries to the area, and there was just one person who handled permits in Nassau County for the very few film requests that came in. While Markowitz was working as a Special Assistant to the then County Executive, she felt the need to do more for her community to attract new business. She began researching other departments in the County, and she suspected that with a concentrated effort on the film industry, economic impact and publicity would increase for Nassau County. This prompted her to submit a proposal to create a Nassau County Film Office that would cover the territory from the border of Queens to the beginning of Suffolk County. The County Executive agreed to her proposal, and as they say, the rest is history.
Markowitz began by building a location image file and responding to film location requests by faxing or mailing out copies of black-and-white photos. She worked with the villages, towns and cities in her territory to help them understand the value of filming in their areas. Markowitz also streamlined the County permit procedure and started producing the permits directly, so filmmakers only need to make one phone call when they want to film on County-owned property. Additionally, when emergency measures are needed, Markowitz steps in and usually turns them around overnight.
Recently the feature film Annie was able to shoot scenes that involved helicopter chases and car crashes at Eisenhower Park on very short notice. Markowitz commented on the film shoot, “You need a lot of space and safety precautions for this kind of work – and we have a top-notch police department with a couple of incredible detectives that handle all our film work.”
A wide diversity of locations can be found in Nassau County: Markowitz’s territory is extensive and filmmakers can find beaches, mansions, great parks, preserves, office buildings, scenic towns, the historic Old Bethpage Village Restoration, and the Nassau County Correctional Center, to name a few. Nassau County also can easily accommodate a wide variety of locations within a small radius. When the feature film Salt needed a huge space, a water tank and a biker bar, they found it all close by with Gold Coast and Grumman Studios, Cantiague Park and other local locations.
Years ago, local film stages were only a dream, but Markowitz pushed to create film studios at the vacant Grumman property and encouraged other properties to do the same. Her efforts were rewarded, and now Nassau County boasts several New York State Qualified Production Facilities, including Grumman Studios and Gold Coast Studios.
Markowitz is proud of the strides that have been made to make Nassau County attractive to filmmakers. “For Nassau County properties, County Executive Edward P. Mangano has fostered a completely film friendly atmosphere,” she said. “If something can be done safely, we’re in. He’s opened up locations that were never used before - like the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, which has been used by the television series, Royal Pains and The Good Wife, the feature film Police State, the Onion Sports Network, and the list goes on…and all while the building was open and in use. “
Markowitz cites the filming of the pilot for NBC’s hot new series, The Blacklist as the most exciting film experience she has had since taking over the position of Nassau County Film Commissioner. “We closed half of the Long Beach Bridge and needed the cooperation of the Nassau County Executive Office, the City of Long Beach, the Department of Public Works/Bridges, the Village of Island Park, the Coast Guard, the Marine Bureau, the Aviation Bureau, the Nassau County Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, the Fire Marshal’s office, the local fire departments, and others. We had helicopters dropping people to the bridge, people repelling off of the bridge, people falling into the water, car/truck crashes and explosions…all while the bridge was open to the public. Just crazy, but we pulled it off with short notice because everyone was willing to work together.”
Markowitz is happy to report that due to the New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program, “Location filming has increased steadily, with a huge leap in television series and feature films. It helped make the studios more viable, which has kept hundreds of production days here and this is proven by the number of production days growing from 35 in the first year to 650 in 2013. The Nassau County economy enjoys over $140 million per year of indirect economic impact from the film industry.”
To showcase the area, Markowitz suggested and implemented (with the help of the Industrial Development Agency and the Police Department) the hugely successful Film Friendly Nassau County Location and Studio Tours that include tours of approximately 22 locations over a two-day period. Plans are also in the works to launch a “Made in Nassau County” program in 2014 that would offer discounts on goods and services to productions that film in the area.
Providing more evidence that the film industry continues to boom in Nassau County is the success of the ever growing Long Island International Film Expo (LIIFE). Submissions are now being accepted for the 2014 Expo, which will take place July 9 – 17, 2014 at Bellmore Movies, 222 Pettit Avenue, Bellmore. For more information, check www.longislandfilm.com.
Nassau County has reaped huge benefits from Debra Markowitz’s passion and tireless efforts for keeping and increasing film production in the area. And, with Markowitz, filmmakers have a champion in their corner that they know will make sure that everything runs smoothly when they bring their productions to Nassau County.
Legendary Post Office Boasts Jail Cells, Old Medical Wings and Vintage Office Space
You have probably walked by its grand façade hundreds of times, and admired its Beaux-Arts architecture along Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. This monumental façade was conceived as a Corinthian colonnade braced at the end by two pavilions. An unbroken flight of steps the full length of the colonnade provides access to the main floor. Each of the square end pavilions is capped with a low saucer dome, expressed on the exterior as a low stepped pyramid. Opened in 1914, the historic James A. Farley Post Office Building has gone through several iterations over the years and was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966.
Today, under the auspices of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation, the historic James A. Farley Post Office Building is in the process of being redeveloped in order to expand the Pennsylvania Station facility, the busiest train station in the country. The first phase of the Moynihan Station project is currently underway and includes an entirely new commuter concourse west of 8th Avenue, an underground connection between the Farley Building and Penn Station, improved access to the station’s platforms, and critical life safety upgrades. Work on Phase 1 will be completed in 2016.
Meanwhile, the doors of the Farley Building are presently open for filmmakers in ways that are not only spacious, but surprisingly unique. With over 1.4 million square feet, the Farley Building takes up two square city blocks from 31st Street to 33rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. That is a significant amount of film-friendly space right in the middle of New York City, not to mention the fantastic set opportunities left behind by recent productions.
“It’s the diversity of the building’s interiors that draws location scouts and managers to our facility,” explains Michael Evans, President of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation. “We have jail cells, old medical wings, cafeterias and early 20th century period offices. Location scouts are so impressed that they will wander around for hours taking photographs. Since the building is largely vacant at this time, it allows for plenty of flexibility for productions needing to paint walls a certain color, or to build temporary structures.”
The Farley Building hosted a shoot for CBS Films’ highly-nominated Inside Llewyn Davis in early 2012. The story takes place in 1961, and the halls, and offices of the building were used for the title character’s old record manager’s offices. “The interiors of the Farley Building, with its classic period look, immediately drew us to that location,” says Tyson Bidner, who worked as the location manager on the project. “There are these long hallways with multiple, consecutive offices that spoke to the time period. Also, they were easy to work with and flexible. At the time the space was pretty much empty, which gave us the opportunity to settle in.”
Other television and film projects that participate in the New York State Film Production Credit program, which provides 30% savings on qualified below-the-line expenses, have been lured to the historic location. NBC’s new hit series The Blacklist, starring James Spader, shot scenes for its pilot episode within its walls; as did the FX Network’s hit series The Americans, starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. Last year HBO shot hospital and doctor office scenes there for its upcoming film The Normal Heart, starring Julia Roberts and Mark Ruffalo. Additionally, Xbox recently used those famous steps and colonnade on Eighth Avenue as a backdrop for a Roman-themed commercial.
Film community take note: Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of this amazing resource.
For more information on filming and planning events at the historic James A. Farley Post Office Building visit http://www.esd.ny.gov/Subsidiaries_Projects/MSDC/MSDC_EventsAtFarley.html, or contact Michael Evans at 212-564-6206.
On January 16th, Governor Cuomo issued a release congratulating all New York Oscar nominees and celebrating movies filmed or posted in New York State.
Especially impressive is Wolf of Wall Street for scoring five Academy Award nominations and Inside Llewyn Davis for scoring two nominations. Both movies filmed in New York and participated in the New York State Film Production Tax Credit Program.
Governor Cuomo also congratulated Blue Jasmine for being cited with three nominations. Blue Jasmine was a participant in the New York State Post Production Credit Program.
Combined, these three films created almost 7,600 jobs for New Yorkers and contributed approximately $122 million to the New York economy. Read release here.
Don’t forget to watch the 86th Annual Academy Award Ceremony on March 2, 2014 for exciting wins and memorable Oscar moments.
List of the 86th Annual Oscars Nominations that participate in New York State Film Production Tax Credit Programs
Wolf of Wall Street
Wolf of Wall Street
Wolf of Wall Street
Blue Jasmine (NOTE: NYS POST PRODUCTION CREDIT PROGRAM)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Wolf of Wall Street
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Blue Jasmine (NOTE: NYS POST PRODUCTION CREDIT PROGRAM)
Wolf of Wall Street
Blue Jasmine (NOTE: NYS POST PRODUCTION CREDIT PROGRAM)
Inside Llewyn Davis
Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter R. Kurland
Inside Llewyn Davis
Every year, independent filmmakers vie for the opportunity to be added to the coveted list of screenings at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. One of the largest, most highly attended independent film festivals in the world, the Sundance Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing new work from American and international independent filmmakers.
The Festival is currently underway (January 16th through January 26th), and this year marks the 30th anniversary. Participants in the New York State Film Production and Post Production Credit Programs are well represented, with 18 films on the screening list for 2014.
The Hudson Valley region takes the starring role at the festival this year, since 2013 was a record setting year for film production in the area, and five out of the 20 feature films that were produced there will have their world premieres at Sundance. Festivalgoers will get a first look at these films (identified with an *asterisk) that were made in the Hudson Valley and participated in the New York State Film Production Credit Program.
The following were all filmed in New York and participated in the New York State Film Production Credit Program:
Listen Up Philip
Written and directed by Alex Ross Perry, and starring Elizabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman and Jonathan Pryce, it will screen in the “Next” section.
Directed and co-written by Gillian Robespierre, and starring Jenny Slate, David Cross, and Richard Kind, it will screen in the “Next” section.
Love is Strange
Directed and co-written by Ira Sachs, and starring Marisa Tomei, John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Cheyenne Jackson, it will screen in the “Premieres” section.
They Came Together
Directed and co-written by David Wain, and starring Paul Rudd, Michael Shannon and Amy Poehler, it will screen in the “Premieres” section.
Directed and co-written by John Slattery (of Mad Men fame), and starring Christina Hendricks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eddie Marsan and John Turturro, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
The Skeleton Twins
Directed and co-written by Craig Johnson, and starring Kristen Wiig, Ty Burrell and Bill Hader, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
Written and directed by Kate Barker-Froyland, and starring Anne Hathaway and Mary Steenburgen, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
*The Better Angels(formerly known as The Green Blade Rises)
Directed by A.J. Edwards and starring Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger, Brit Marling, Wes Bentley and numerous local extras, The Better Angels will screen in the “New Frontier” section.
Director, screenwriter, comedian, David Cross (best known for his work on Arrested Development) makes his directorial debut with Hits that stars Julia Stiles, Michael Cera, Jason Ritter, David Koechner, Meredith Hagner, Matt Walsh, Amy Carlson and hundreds of local extras. It will screen in the “Premieres” section.
*Cold in July
Directed by Jim Mickle, who is returning to Sundance for a second year following his 2013 critically acclaimed We Are What We Are, (also a New York State Film Production Credit Program participant). Cold in July stars Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, and Sam Shepard. It will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic” section.
*Jamie Marks is Dead
Directed by Carter Smith and starring Woodstock native, Liv Tyler, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
Written and directed by Mike Cahill, and starring Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, and Archie Panjabi, it will screen in the “Premieres” section.
Participants in the New York State Post Production Credit Program will also be represented at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival with the following films:
Wish I Was Here
Directed and co-written by Zach Braff and starring Jim Parsons, Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin, it will screen in the “Premieres” section.
Only Lovers Left Alive
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, and starring Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska and John Hurt, it will screen in the “Spotlight” section.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Directed and co-written by David Zellner and starring Rinko Kikuchi, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
Directed by Jeff Preiss and starring Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning and Glenn Close, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
Directed by Mona Fastvoid and starring Gitte Witt, Christopher Abbott and Stephanie Ellis, it will screen in the “U.S. Dramatic Competition” section.
Ping Pong Summer
Directed by Michael Tully and starring Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris, John Hannah, and Lea Thompson, it will screen in the “Next” section.
Congratulations to New York State’s talented and award-winning film industry including in Sundance’s 2014 programming. For more information on the festival, click here.
New York Boasts Film Student Talent Across the State
Whether you’re a high school senior researching good places to pursue a degree in film/television production, someone already in the industry with an interest in getting more advanced training, or even just an interested bystander who loves film and would like to take a few courses to learn more – there’s no shortage of choices or opportunities to meet your needs at one of the State University of New York (SUNY) campuses located all across the state.
Some 36 institutions across the spectrum of SUNY schools offer some form of academic studies and/or physical production training in the film and television arts. There are over 53 different production-related degree programs– undergraduate degrees, MFAs, PHDs, Associate’s Degrees, certificates—offered on campuses in every corner of New York State. And that’s not even counting screenwriting.
Some SUNY film programs are already quite well known. Last month, for example, we covered the exciting “20/20/20” graduate level filmmaking course at Stony Brook Southampton – click here to read article - an innovative and exciting partnership between the university and indie production house Killer Films. SUNY Purchase’s BFA degree is another highly regarded film school in the New York State system: 85% of the Purchase film grads have found work in the film and television industries. Alumni include directors Hal Hartley (My America) and Ilya Chaiken (Margarita Happy Hour), actor Nick Gomez (Looper, Walking Dead), writer Dani Michaeli (Spongebob Squarepants) and Chris Wedge, founder of famed animation studio Blue Sky Studios and producer/director of their hits Ice Age and Robots - to name a few.
But it’s not only in these bigger centers that you can find high quality film education at a SUNY school; over 99% of all New York State residents live within 30 miles of a SUNY campus, so no matter where you live in New York State, there’s a SUNY with some sort of film program nearby.
Take, for example, Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, New York; that’s in the Southern Tier region, pretty much the geographic center of the state. TC3, as it’s known, offers Associates degree programs in Digital Cinema, Broadcast Production, and Creative Writing – Screenwriting, plus a host of related programs like New Media and Communications and Media Arts. There are about 75 budding filmmakers all told in the various programs. There’s a Digital Cinema club with around 30 students; club members participate in community and college activities and fundraising and go to film-related events, including the Tribeca Film Festival. Frequent visits to the campus by industry figures like Karen Kirkland, Director of the Nickelodeon Writing Program, ensure students don’t get bored during downtime between classes.
Professor Lisa Ford, the Coordinator of Liberal Arts/Humanities programs, is a filmmaker herself and has had her work shown in many prestigious festivals, including the SAG Foundation Short Film Showcase, the New Filmmakers Screening Series at Anthology Film Archives, the Park City Film Music Festival, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, and many more. As to the quality of teaching at TC3, screenwriting student Jonathan Gardner has this to say: “The professors push when you need it and give you space to be creative when necessary. Despite lacking confidence in my writing, I felt secure enough in my classes to share, and learned to communicate without ego. The interpersonal communication skills I attained serve me well in multiple facets of life as well as writing. I attribute any success I have or will have to the strong foundation built at TC3.”
But at TC3, the training doesn’t stop in the classroom. Every year, Associate Professor Christine Guest takes a group of students from the digital cinema, television production and screenwriting programs to Los Angeles for 21 days. While there, the students do a vast array of things from touring Warner Bros, Pixar, Technicolor and Technicolor Sound Design at Paramount, and 32ten Studios; they intern on independent films at Central City Stages; they attend VIP show tapings including, this year, Chuck Lorre’s Mom and the Arsenio Hall Show. To top it all off, they make their own short film at Central City stages where each student holds a specific role in the production; they raise funds, plan, cast and produce the final project on their own. Last year they went to Rome and Florence for 20 days, spending some time working at Cinecitta. The key here is that they bring these experiences back to their home state of New York, where of most of them intend to launch their careers.
"The On Location: Hollywood course offered by TC3 is an unbelievable experience,” said Mick Thomas, one of the TC3 students who took the trip. “We get to do so much and meet so many amazing people working in the industry that it is impossible not to learn. I would highly suggest Tc3’s digital cinema program to anyone looking to get a leg up on other students at the same point in their film and television educations." Mick’s short film, Rhythm, recently took the prize for “Best Western New York Student Film” at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival.
SUNY students on campuses all across New York organize festivals to show their work, from the Insomnia Film Festival at SUNY Geneseo (students are given 24 hours to write, shoot, edit and post a video of three minutes or less), to the Catskills Film Festival at SUNY Delphi, to the Panic Film Festival at SUNY Oswego. There is even a SUNY-wide Film Festival and Symposium, held at SUNY Fredonia, which is dedicated to “the goal of promoting the cinematic arts in the SUNY system” by showing “the work that best exemplifies the dedication and skill found across the SUNY system. “ Only current SUNY students and faculty can enter the SUNY-wide festival. Associate Professor Phil Hastings says, “Submissions have increased in both quantity and quality every year,” since he started it back in 2009. Last year, approximately 80 submissions resulted in about 30 films being shown.
An independent film The Automatic Hate recently filmed for several weeks in the Mohawk Valley town of Oneonta. To fill out a local crew roster, the producers turned to the local SUNY Oneonta film program. “We wound up using several SUNY Oneonta students on our crew and in the office, and they were great to work with,” said the film’s co-producer Garrett Fennelly. “Not just eager to learn, but hardworking, and talented. They were a genuine asset to our production, and in return, we gave them some real hands-on exposure to the world of production. It was a win-win for all.”
Asked if in the future he would consider hiring a SUNY film school graduate on a production, Fennelly said: “Absolutely. Based on what I saw, I’d say these kids are getting as good a film school education as there is out there. I would definitely take a look at anyone coming out of a SUNY film program.”
So keep an eye out for this growing breed of homegrown talent across the SUNY film community – chances are you’ll be hearing about them a lot more in the near future.