The New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development (NY♥FILMS) is responsible for the growth of the film, television and commercial production, and related industries in New York State.
Contributing Authors

Approximately 30 representatives from the production and post-production community met with Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams and the Governor’s Film Office on Monday, June 16 to discuss the state of the industry and ways to work together to improve the experience of filming and doing post production in New York State.

Attendees - including soundstage owners, union and guild representatives, post-production house staff, and studio representatives - discussed ways to continue the extraordinary growth in production, and how best to sustain and support the production and post production industries in the Empire State.

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Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams

So far 2014 has been another record-breaking year for television production in New York – read more.  And, since Governor Cuomo increased the post-production credit to 30% in 2012, we have seen vast increases in the number of projects coming here solely to do their post production work, which is bringing more businesses, investments and new jobs to New York – read more

Commissioner Adams discussed a number of New York State economic development programs that can help the industry further expand and increase their businesses.  These programs include the New York State Film Production Credit Program, New York State Post-Production Credit program, Start-Up NY, Excelsior Jobs Program, Job Development Authority (JDA) Direct Loan Program, Linked Deposit Program, Innovate NY Fund, and the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund.  For more information on these programs, visit http://www.esd.ny.gov/BusinessPrograms.html.

Earlier this month, Empire State Development (ESD) announced that New York is on pace for yet another record-breaking year for television production in the state. New York has already been home to 23 pilots this year, which is as many as filmed here in the entirety of 2013. These pilots have generated an estimated $127 million in spending in New York, and over 15,000 jobs.

Many of these pilots have been picked up to series, and will be filming in New York in the coming year. These include Fox’s much anticipated Gotham, ABC’s comedy Manhattan Love Story, and NBC’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt¸ co-produced and written by Tina Fey.

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However, pilots aren’t the only area where New York’s stance in the world of TV production is stronger than ever. Thus far, ten series have shot in New York in 2014 spending an estimated $346 million and hiring over 18,000 people. Through May 2013, only six series had filmed in New York, with an estimated $317 million spent. These numbers are made all the more impressive in light of the fact that 2013 itself went on to become a record-breaking year for New York in terms of television production. At this point, 2014 seems to be well on its way to becoming another record-breaking year, not just for pilots, but for TV in New York.

To read the full release, click here.

At first glance, The Fault in Our Stars may not seem like an effects-heavy production. However, the intimate and touching story of two teens living with cancer, based on the book of the same name by John Green, in fact required some intricate effects work. To get the look they wanted, the producers turned to four New York visual effects companies: Phosphene, LookFX, Spontaneous and Scoundrel. All told, 200 of the film’s 350 effects shots were done in New York, which is also where the film located its VFX office.

The effects work the film required was far from simple. Gus, the character played by Ansel Elgort, has had a leg amputated due to bone cancer. Using shots of Elgort moving with both legs, the team at Phosphene composited a prosthetic leg and stump onto Elgort’s Gus. The production also consulted with doctors to ensure that the remaining part of the character’s leg was medically accurate for the specific amputation he would have undergone.

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Phosphene was also tasked with transforming the iconic 20th Century Fox logo which appears at the beginning of the film and tying it into the starry motif that is one of the film’s visual calling cards. By adding a night sky flecked with stars behind the famous skylit logo, Phosphene helped set the tone for the film right off the bat, seamlessly inducting viewers into the world of The Fault in Our Stars.

Phosphene’s co-owner and executive producer Vivian Connolly noted the pleasure of working on a project with a built-in, dedicated fan base, saying that “it was an honor for Phosphene to help bring to life this iconic story that means so much to so many people.  We feel incredibly lucky to be part of the explosion of creative and meaningful work coming out of the New York Visual Effects Community.”

Other important elements of the film’s look are the various texts and emails characters send to one another. Rather than simply cutting away to a shot of a screen, the messages themselves “pop up” next to the characters reading and writing them. This provided a way to capture the exchange of texting rather than revert to a series of straightforward shots of cell phone screens. This work was done by Spontaneous.

Jake Braver, the film’s visual effects supervisor, had high praise for the work of the various New York-based companies who took part.  “A movie like Fault doesn’t look like a big visual effects movie - in fact it’s not a ‘visual effects movie’ - but it has 350 VFX shots. Keeping the work disguised meant the tone was important - the VFX had to be completely seamless, invisible and naturalistic,” Braver said and continued, “Phosphene, Spontaneous, LookFX, and Scoundrel did great work, and always approached the work with an eye towards supporting the story. It was great to able to complete the majority of our VFX work in NY, even though the rest of post was in LA.”

While the decision to do much of the film’s visual effects work in New York is a testament not only to the faith the film’s director and producers had in New York’s burgeoning visual effects scene, it also speaks to the power of New York’s post-production incentive, which allows any film which does at least 20% of the total visual effects budget (or $3 million worth of effects work – whichever is less) in New York to qualify. This provision opens the credit to a wider base, attracting more films to New York, creating more jobs and freelance hours, and supporting businesses like the ones that brought The Fault in Our Stars to life.

New York State Police, Office of Public Information

When you hear someone calling “Help, Police!” it’s usually a pretty dire situation. But when it comes to film and television producers shooting on the highways, in the towns and villages, or even on soundstages of New York State, there’s help to be had in many forms from the men and women of the New York State Police. From safely staging a car chase on a crowded Interstate overpass, to getting the details right on a Trooper’s uniform or researching the history of a notorious crime spree from the 1960’s, Kristin Lowman in the Office of Public Information of the New York State Police is standing by to provide assistance and direction on all sorts of requests related to the duties and responsibilities of the troopers of New York State.

Lowman  is well equipped to handle both sides of the law enforcement and media production equation; prior to starting with the State Police two years ago she spent ten years in broadcast journalism, as a news anchor and an on-camera reporter for the Fox affiliate in Albany and at NBC in Utica.  She covered a lot of crime stories and police beats in those years, made a lot of friends in law enforcement in the process, so when the opportunity came up to join the State Police in the Public Information Office she took it.  “I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement and the great work they do every day,” she says. “I thought - here is my chance - I get to showcase a fantastic organization and use the skills I acquired in news. It’s been almost two years and I haven’t looked back.”

 

Kristin Lowman, New York State Police

Media relations can mean a lot of different things: on any given day the office might help field requests for interviews from reporters relating to a recent crime; give briefings on statistics or initiatives coming out of the agency; assist with research about a historical incident for a documentary, etc.  In terms of the entertainment industry, there is a wide range of assistance provided as well.  Sometimes a production wants to have a scene with an actor dressed as a uniformed officer, or to show a state police vehicle in hot pursuit, or some other aspect that includes an official insignia or image on camera; the Public Information Office will work with the show to not only give them permission to use their likeness, but also ensure all images are correct and appropriately represented. The office has also worked extensively with shows like Law & Order and CSI: New York in terms of NY State Police procedures. Dramatizations of how the state police operate and conduct investigations and interact with the public are seen by millions of people around the world, and both the producers and the agency want to be sure they are as accurate and realistic as possible.

Sometimes that bid for accuracy goes beyond simple fact-checking or providing information. When Mira Sorvino was preparing for her lead role in the Jerry Bruckheimer produced pilot Trooper for TNT, in addition to “many hours of phone calls” she was given permission to ride along with a female trooper on a typical day to give the actress an idea of what a real female Trooper deals with out on the road.

And then there are the requests for help with physical production, most commonly in the context of filming on New York State’s busy state roads and highways. For the most part, the New York State Department of Transportation requires permits for filming on public roadways under their jurisdiction.  Very frequently, as a condition of the permit, a police presence is required to ensure the safety of the film crew, actors and the general public.  “The State Police are available to provide the necessary presence to allow production companies to film safely,” says Lowman.  “Often our Troop cars will trail behind slow moving vehicles involved in the production, providing what is known as a ‘rolling roadblock’.  Other times, they might close the road for a short period of time, or close a lane, if the filming is occurring off the roadway.  When a scene from Sony Pictures’ Salt (starring Angelina Jolie) was filmed in Albany, the Troop G Traffic Incident Management Team closed a series of major roads, on a schedule that allowed for the complicated action scene to be shot from a bridge, while minimizing the disruption to the public.” Recent projects requiring road assistance include Fox’s The Following, USA Network’s Royal Pains, and NBC’s new pilot Babylon Fields.  Officers logged over 160 hours helping productions last year.  And all this is done, she notes, at no cost to the taxpayers of New York; producers pay an agreed upon rate for the troopers’ time on set, and officers are not diverted from regular duty for filming purposes.

The State Police force is divided across the state into ten geographic zones, known as “Troops”; most filming requests are concentrated in Troop L (Long Island) and Troop F (includes Greene, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties) which are popular partly because of the scenery.  Troop L has the beaches and parkways of Long Island, while Troop F has the spectacular Hawks Nest area in Orange County, where Route 97 runs along a sheer drop to the Delaware River. Both have the added advantage of being located near New York City, where many production companies operate. But big requests can come up for any part of the state; Focus Features’ Taking Woodstock, for example, required a stretch of road in Columbia County to be shut down for long periods of time while producers recreated the massive traffic jam at the famed music festival. Officers from Troop K were called upon to help with road closures, detours and with developing alternative traffic plans that would ensure uninterrupted access for schools, hospitals, and for emergency vehicles, delivery trucks and other vital services.


Lowman is quick to point out that she is part of a team, working under Director of Public Information Darcy Wells, who also came into the office in 2012 and who also has a background in radio and television; in fact Wells is the first civilian to head the State Police Public Information Office. They’ve taken things in a whole new direction, including new initiatives, Lowman says, like “starting up social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and being proactive when pitching story ideas to the media and production companies. Our goal has always been to show the great work that the State Police do on a daily basis.”

Lowman and her colleagues make it clear that if you are a filmmaker working in New York, you don’t need to be in trouble to call “help, police!”  The New York State Police understand the importance of the film and television industry to the economic vitality of the state, and they are working to do their part to keep New York film friendly. “If we can accommodate a request - we will do our best to make it happen.  We encourage anyone in the film and television industry to reach out to us in the office with any questions they have about our agency or to see if we can help them on any upcoming projects.”

Rochester Filmmaker Keeps Projects Close to Home

When Nick DiBella sold his feature screenplay Chasing Bobby Jones to WarnerBros back in 1998, where it went into development with Chris O’Donnell attached, people in Rochester figured he’d be moving on to Hollywood pretty soon.  After all, his earlier screenplays Runnin’ Home and Address Unknown had both already been turned into cable TV movies.  He’d picked up an agent, and he was becoming a re-writer in demand, being offered jobs like updating the 1959 teen love story A Summer Place (also for WarnerBros). Then in 2002 when MGM released Kart Racer starring Randy Quaid, based on another of his scripts, well, everybody figured that was pretty much it; Rochester got ready to say good bye to Nick DiBella.

But something surprising happened - he didn’t go. “My wife and I would go out to LA a few times a year for me to take meetings and all, but I was never very comfortable there. Rochester is my home.  I get that it probably held my career back in one sense, but I just didn’t want to live there, I wanted to be here.  Besides, a paycheck goes a lot further in Rochester than LA.”

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And from a career point of view, things haven’t turned out so bad for DiBella.  He’s directed three features and numerous short films, and has another feature in pre-production scheduled to start this summer.  His budgets are going up, his audience keeps growing, and distributors are bidding to get his pictures - all without leaving his hometown of Rochester.

DiBella got his start making short films for Eastman Kodak. “I was working for Kodak, but not in the motion picture division; I had a job in optical engineering designing and calibrating equipment that tested lenses and cameras.  Kodak had a Camera Club where you could check out Super 8 cameras and make your own little movies for free.  One of my shorts, Sweet Surrender, wound up getting aired on Showtime and the guys over in the motion picture department saw it and said, ‘hey, why don’t you start making films for us?’ They needed to try out the new film stocks, see how they look in real movie situations with actors and a story and different lighting conditions.”  Kodak was offering an employee buyout at that time, so he left his engineering job and started as an independent writer-director, making narrative shorts for the Kodak technical team.  And those shorts started winning awards.

In 1995 he put up his own money and made his first feature – Restless Heart. “It was a real learning experience, I’ll say that. And we accomplished a lot of what we set out to do.”  The film didn’t do well financially, which was discouraging, but around that time his screenwriting career really started to take off.  His rewrite on a script Address Unknown became the feature debut of director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel).  Next, came Running Home in 1997, produced by Allegro Films and distributed by Brainstorm Media.  Those were followed in turn by the WarnerBros deals and Kart Racer.  “I was definitely getting writing jobs, and that was great, but what I wanted to do was actually make movies, not just write them.  Plus, because a lot my projects that were getting bought were family films, stories about teenagers and such, I was becoming typecast as that kind of writer.  I was writing darker scripts, too, but they weren’t selling, in part I think because people just didn’t think of me working in those genres.  That’s when I decided to make Cherry Crush, to show I could do something more “noir.”  And I decided to make it right here, in Rochester, where I’d have the most control.”

Cherry Crush is indeed a much darker film - “Body Heat for teenagers” DiBella calls it - built around a story of blackmail and murder. The budget was much bigger than his previous effort, and so was the cast, including Nikki Reed (Thirteen), Jonathan Tucker (Hannibal) and Frank Whaley (Pulp Fiction).  “Having done all these movies for Kodak, I knew we had everything here I needed – the gear, the equipment, the trained crew.  The Rochester technical crew had been working on these very high-quality Kodak movies for years, they really knew their craft.” Partnering with local post production house Post Central, they shot the film in 2005 and it has been distributed on DVD in countries around the world.

DiBella has both feet firmly planted in his hometown.  “The stories just come to me here, I love our community; it’s an integral part of my creative energy. Plus there’s a sweet spot in Rochester for making movies from about $500,000 up to about $3 million; all the people and resources are here and you can get great deals on locations and all the support services you need.  And, with the great New York State Film Production tax credits, there’s just no reason for me to go anywhere else. “

DiBella says the New York State tax credit was critical in helping him raise the money for his most recent movie, King’s Faith.  “The tax credit was big for us, absolutely. It’s big when you can talk to your investors and tell them we’ve got a big head start on paying them back thanks to New York State.  We couldn’t be doing these movies here in Rochester without the state tax credit, no question.”

King’s Faith opened another whole set of doors for DiBella: the Christian faith-based entertainment market. The film’s distributor, Provident Films (a division of Sony), is just one of a growing number of companies that seek to acquire and distribute films, books, music, and other media that speak to the Christian faith community.  “We had interest from nine different companies,” DiBella says.  “We can distribute directly to churches and faith groups all over the world. Plus there are additional revenue streams from ancillary materials, like the Bible study guides that use the film to illustrate various lessons in the Bible.” King’s Faith is clearly something of a hit in the faith community; within months of its release it aired on the UPtv network where over 1.9 million people viewed it during its premiere weekend.  It is currently running on TVOne and was released theatrically in 36 U.S. cities.  The DVD is being sold in 30 countries, and since October over 40,000 DVD units have been sold worldwide.  Right now the Facebook page for King’s Faith has over 80,000 fans, and that is growing by about 2500 fans per week.  And these fans are not just from the US, but from all over the world.

So what’s next for DiBella?  He’s got another faith-based film, Wildflower, in prep for shooting this fall.  His script Last Breath was optioned by a producer and is currently out for financing.  His goal is to ramp up his production schedule to doing two movies a year - all to be shot, hopefully, in Upstate New York.  And, he notes, there’s one other unique benefit Rochester has over LA, one many in the film business have overlooked.  “Winters can be pretty long here,” he says. “It keeps me indoors so I get lots of writing done.”

New Sound Stage in Mount Vernon is Open for Business

Haven Studios is a brand new production sound stage that boasts over 30,000 square feet of raw space and more than 12,000 square feet for dressing rooms, shops, storage, and production offices.  Facilities include gated areas for locked storage, three loading docks, plenty of free gated parking, and lunchrooms.  Added benefits include its status as a New York State Qualified Production Facility and it being a 20-minute commute to Manhattan.

Nicole and Gabrielle Zeller of Zelco Industries, Inc, formerly maintained and operated the studio space as a warehouse and manufacturing facility, where items such as clocks and flashlights were manufactured, and consumer products, like the Itty Bitty Book Light, magnifiers, reading aids, lanterns, and utensil sets were stored and sold.  As the nature of the industry changed the Zellers decided to re-think their business plan, and began to pursue using the space for other purposes.

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Nicole and Gabrielle Zeller, owners of Haven Studio

After much research, and with assistance from the New York State Governor’s Film Office and the Westchester County Film Office, the space was transformed into Haven Studios and is now a prime soundstage for film and television projects.

Not long after Haven Studios was established, they attracted their first production. Upcoming HBO series The Leftovers, a drama that revolves around mysterious world-wide disappearances, follows a group of people who are left behind in the suburban community of Mapleton and was filmed on the Haven Studios lot, and various locations in Mount Vernon.  It stars Justin Theroux, Frank Harts and Michael Gaston, and premieres June 29 at 10pm on HBO.

It was the features of this studio, as well as the surrounding community and locations which attracted Demian Resnick, Location Manager for The Leftovers, to Mount Vernon.  

“In addition to the potential of Haven Studios we also saw that Mount Vernon had ‘the look’ we needed for the show, and knew we would be able to use many surrounding locations to film, including private homes, churches, schools, local businesses, as well as the streets and parks,” says Resnick.  Besides paying about $200,000 in location fees, the production was consistently patronizing local businesses like Beneath Your Sole, Zubitzky Glass, Dicicco’s Market, Home Depot, Wise Hardware, Target, and Gramatan Hot Bagels, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into the local economy during the production period.


After the success of The Leftovers, Haven Studios is now looking to grow. Nicole Zeller, co-owner of Haven Studios, views film production as a great economic stimulator for the local community, because productions like these engage their immediate surroundings and everyone stands to benefit. “Based on our experience with The Leftovers, we are looking to expand our facilities with additional property in Mount Vernon.  As we worked closely with this team we were able to learn very quickly what the needs of a production are, and plan accordingly,” says Zeller. “We hope to attract more television and film productions, and subsequent economic activity to the area.”

For more information on Haven Studios, please visit their website at http://www.havenstudiosny.com/

While it’s only 17 miles from the heart of New York City, Rockland County Psychiatric Center can feel like a world away. With its stately and, in many cases, abandoned buildings, expansive grounds and long history, the Center has made for an eye-catching, evocative and versatile location for a number of projects. Most recently, it stood in for the fictional Litchfield Federal Penitentiary on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black.

The roughly six hundred acre facility, built in the 1920s and opened as a psychiatric treatment center in 1931, was home to 9,000 patients and 2,000 staff at its peak. However, much of the facility is no longer used for treatment, and it currently hosts only 270 adult patients. This makes for a lot of possibilities.

It’s not hard to see why location managers would be attracted to the site, located on the shore of Lake Tappan, and just minutes from the Tappan Zee Bridge. It’s accessible from New York City, and has accommodated numerous large scale productions in the past. Above all else, it is versatile, offering many different potential locations in one setting.

Orange Is The New Black, for instance, filmed many of its exterior shots outside of one of the facility’s relatively newer buildings, constructed in the 1970’s. The Center certainly has the institutional feel of a large prison, but, considering how little of the facility is currently in active use, it offers numerous practical benefits over filming at an actual prison.

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Indeed, the Netflix hit isn’t the first production to do significant shooting on the site. The 2004 biopic Kinsey, starring Liam Neeson, used the facility as a stand-in for Indiana University, where the title character taught. The film’s mid-twentieth century setting worked perfectly with the Center’s architecture.

In many ways, one of the location’s biggest assets is the fact that much of it has been out of use for so long. Not only is this easier for productions from a logistical standpoint, it also lends the location a unique look. OITNB’s co-star Yael Stone agreed, telling Elle Australia that the location is “pretty creepy… it definitely is an odd place.”

While the Psychiatric Center would be a great setting wherever you put it, its location in Rockland County makes it all the more appealing. OITNB location manager Lauri Pitkus had high praise for the surrounding area: “filming in Rockland County has been a boon for our show. We’ve been able to maximize production value by scheduling our prison shoot days with myriad other locations.  With terrific cooperation from the Town of Orangetown and Clarkstown Police Departments we’ve filmed on nearby desolate and wooded roads; we’ve returned twice to the Rockland County Courthouse with its beautifully restored courtrooms, and we regularly scout and shoot in nearby homes in Blauvelt and Orangeburg.  With a number of rural go-to locations like Camp Kaufman and Bradley Corporate Park and a selection of true neighborhood taverns like The Clover Leaf Inn, the area provides a great and accurate backdrop for our show.”

The Rockland County Psychiatric Center is one-of-a-kind. With its expansive grounds, which can be made to look like anything from a college quad to a haunted house, its proximity to New York City, and its location in one of the most film-friendly counties New York has to offer, it’s a surefire way to give any number of projects a unique look. The Center will be available again for filming in October 2014, which is great for planning ahead.  For inquiries regarding permits and shooting, contact Benjamin Rosen (benjamin.rosen@omh.ny.gov, or 518-474-6540) at the State Department of Mental Health, which operates the facility.

Providing Meals for the Disadvantaged and Making a Difference

Did you ever wonder what happens to all the extra food that piles up on the catering tables of today’s film and television production sets?  So did Syd Mandelbaum, founder of Rock And Wrap It Up!  Only it was 24 years ago.  And it was at a rock concert.

Rock And Wrap It Up! is a unique, innovative and award-winning, anti-poverty think tank which researches, discovers and nurtures potential donors who have renewable assets to share.  Using greening tactics, they recover food and other assets to agencies fighting poverty by boxing up prepared and untouched meals following rock concerts, film and television shoots, school and sporting events, then delivering them to local food banks and charitable organizations.  Their donors include touring bands, educational institutions, the hospitality industry, professional sports teams, hospitals, and film & television productions throughout North America.  Their work supports over 43,000 agencies in North America, including soup kitchens, churches, homeless shelters, and battery missions.

According to Mandelbaum, “we’re putting a dent in poverty, and we need so many partners in this program.”  In the film and television industry, the organization has partnerships with HBO, Showtime, MTV Networks and NBC/Universal, among others.  Recent productions with whom they’ve worked are projects that participate in the New York State Film Production Credit program, like HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Girls and The Leftovers.  Other productions/donors with whom they’ve coordinated: Orange Is The New Black, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, the re-make of the film Annie.  The list goes on and on.  Last year, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was on location upstate in Rochester, NY, an exchange was coordinated between the production team and the Open Arms Mission to have food recovered and donated locally.


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Rock And Wrap It Up! Freezer on set of Blue Bloods


Much of the coordination among productions is done by longtime volunteer Abby Kaish. When asked why he does what he does with Rock And Wrap It Up!, Kaish says, “The work I do is very satisfying.  I’m helping to transform an entire industry.” 

Not only is Rock And Wrap It Up! committed to its anti-poverty mission, but it also strongly advocates for environmental sustainability. Studios and stages increasingly have their own sustainability departments, and Rock And Wrap It Up! works closely with these divisions to foster a commitment to renewable resources.  One of these initiatives is the Whole Earth Calculator app.  Created specifically for Rock And Wrap It Up!, the app tracks the amount of leftover food donated from events, then posts on Facebook and tweets the good news in terms of meals served and greenhouse gas emissions saved.

To learn more about Rock And Wrap It Up!, and how you can get involved with the great work this organization does, please visit their website - http://www.rockandwrapitup.org/ - or give them a call at 1-877-691-FOOD. 

Human Rights Watch Film Festival – June 12-22, 2014

Through our Human Rights Watch Film Festival we bear witness to human rights violations and create a forum for courageous individuals on both sides of the lens to empower audiences with the knowledge that personal commitment can make a difference. The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people.

BAMcineFest– June 18-29, 2014

The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s annual film festival gathers new films from across the film festival circuit to give New York its first look at emerging voices in American independent cinema.  BAMcinemaFest is showing on the new Steinberg Screen at the BAM Harvey Theater, a restored former movie palace.  The festival is hosted by BAMcinématek and features both documentaries and narrative films.

American Black Film Festival – June 19-22, 2014

The Black experience is an integral part of American culture; and the universal appeal of Black stories is becoming more apparent as African Americans make substantial inroads into the motion picture industry.  As we look to the future, it is our goal to not only support Black filmmakers, but to promote their work for everyone’s enjoyment! The ABFF is committed to broadening the mainstream embrace of Black culture, to have as great an impact through cinema as we have had through music, fashion and sports.

Manhattan Film Festival – June 19-July 3, 2014

The Manhattan Film Festival is dedicated to developing and discovering new ways to help filmmakers pursue a career out of filmmaking. In the process we introduce filmmakers and their work to new and expanding audiences. The festival was founded by independent filmmakers who learned firsthand how hard it is to find an independent film an audience.

New York Asian Film Festival – June 27- July 14, 2014

The New York Asian Film Festival is a presentation of The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Subway Cinema.  Taking place at Lincoln Center, the Japan Society, and the Asia Society, it offers the opportunity to see a generous sampling of current and recent films from countries like China, Japan and South Korea.  The New York Asian Film Festival also features director Question and Answer sessions, and frequently screens the North American premieres of many selected films.

Roosevelt Island’s Outdoor Summer Movie Series – June 28-Aug23, 2014

Catch views of the Manhattan skyline behind Roosevelt Island’s massive, 40-ft inflatable screen, which will showcase (mostly) kid-friendly films on select Friday and Saturday nights at dusk.

Long Island International Film Expo – July 9-17, 2014

The Long Island International Film Expo is presented by the Long Island Film/TV Foundation and the Nassau County Film Commission and screens both short and feature-length independent films from 48 countries and a variety of genres.  The Film Expo includes an informal Opening Night Party, several panels on such topics as distribution and scriptwriting, and a Closing Night Party.  Winners are selected based on a combination of audience ballot and judging committee, and are named at the Closing Night Party during a special Awards Ceremony.

Movies With A View in Brooklyn Bridge Park – July 10-August 29, 2014

Each summer, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy partners Syfy to present Syfy Movies With A View, a free, outdoor film series on Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The series also welcomes pre-movie music, short films selected by BAMcinématek to play before the feature, and stargazing with the Astronomers Association of New York.  The weekly series is noted for the views from the waterfront park, as well as its selection of quality features.

Rochester Jewish Film Festival – July 13-21, 2014

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester established the Rochester Jewish Film Festival in 2001 to present the best contemporary Jewish themed films from around the world to the Rochester community.  RJFF exists to promote awareness and pride in the diversity of the Jewish people; to strengthen community consciousness of Jewish identity, history and culture; to provide a forum for community gatherings that allows valuable dialogue; and to create an international showcase for filmmakers whose work explores Jewish themes.

Stony Brook Film Festival – July 17-26, 2014 
The Stony Brook Film Festival celebrates independent film, ranging from American independent films to shorts from around the world.  The films chosen feature powerful and growing voices in cinema and will have directors, actors and crew members at the festival to represent them.  The international slate of features, documentaries, and shorts is screened at the Staller Center For The Arts, part of Stony Brook University.

Asian American International Film Festival - July 24-August 3, 2013

The Asian-American International Film Festival, presented by Asian CineVision, offers a full lineup of features films and shorts for, by, and about Asians and Asian Americans.  The Asian American International Film Festival aims at giving the audiences a comprehensive picture of the Asian and Asian American independent cinemas.  Featuring the most recent cinematic achievements by emerging storytellers, the festival is a survey of cinema that reflects on Asia as well as on being Asian in America.

NewFest  – July 24-29, 2014

NewFest is dedicated to bringing together filmmakers and audiences in the building of a community that passionately supports giving greater visibility and voice to a wide range of expressions and representations of the LGBT experience.  We are committed to nurturing emerging LGBT and allied filmmakers. We support those artists who are willing to take risks in telling the stories that fully reflect the diversity and complexity of our lives. And we’re committed to bringing our audience stories that transform our vision of who we are and who we can be.

Long Beach International Film Festival– July 31 – August 3, 2014

The Long Beach International Film Festival (LBIFF) was founded to celebrate the art of storytelling through cinema. Presenting features, shorts, fiction and documentary format, the festival is committed to exhibiting films that convey fresh voices and differing perspectives. Our goal is that these programs will captivate, engage and enlighten our audiences, provide invaluable exposure for filmmakers and present inspired entertainment for all ages. Set upon the spectacular Atlantic Ocean coastline of Long Beach, New York, and less than an hour from Manhattan, the LBIFF kicked off it’s annual event in the summer of 2012.

TV & FILM PREMIERS

Taxi Brooklyn (Season 1) – June 25, 2014 on NBC at 10:00PM

The 12-episode French action-dramedy stars Grey’s Anatomy alum Chyler Leigh and is based on Luc Besson’s feature film Taxi. The series was shot in English on location in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

Begin Again - June 27, 2014 – The Weinstein Company

A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents. Shot in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

They Came Together - June 27, 2014 – Lionsgate

When Joel and Molly meet, it’s hate at first sight: his big Corporate Candy Company threatens to shut down her quirky indie shop. Plus, Joel is hung up on his sexy ex. But amazingly, they fall in love, until they break up about two thirds of the way through, and Molly starts dating her accountant. But then right at the end…well you’ll just have to see.

The Leftovers (Season 1)– June 29, 2014 on HBO at 10:00PM

Revolves around the Rapture and follows a group of people who are left behind in the suburban community of Mapleton. They must begin to rebuild their lives after the sudden and mysterious disappearance of more than 100 people.

Unforgettable (Season 3) – June 29, 2014 on CBS at 10:00PM

Carrie Wells, a former NY Police detective, has a rare medical condition that gives her the ability to visually remember everything. She rejoins the force and uses her ability to solve crimes.

Deliver Us from EvilJuly 2, 2014 – Screen Gems

New York police officer Ralph Sarchie, struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie’s bone-chilling real-life cases.

Life Itself - July 4, 2014 – Magnolia Pictures

This documentary film recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert - a story that is by turns personal, funny, painful, and transcendent.

Wish I Was Here - July 18, 2014 – Focus Features

Director Zach Braff’s follow-up to his indie breakout hit “Garden State” is a comedy telling the story of a thirty something man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family.

(Participated in the New York State Post Production Credit program)

I Origins - July 18, 2014 – Fox Searchlight

A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.


America’s Got Talent – July 23, 2014 on NBC at 8pm
NBC’s top-rated summer series returns this summer with the hottest performers from across the country ready to compete in the blockbuster reality show’s ninth season.  Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel return as judges and Nick Cannon returns as host.


Premature- July 24, 2014 – IFC

Rob is facing the biggest day of his life. He needs to nail a college interview ensuring his admittance to his parents’ beloved alma mater, keep his cool when life-long crush Angela finally seems to show interest, and deal with his best friends as they realize their high school days are ending. As pressure mounts, something weird happens. He finds himself reliving the day’s events over and over again.

(Participated in the New York State Post Production Credit program)

Magic in the Moonlight- July 25, 2014 – Sony Pictures Classics

A well-known debunker of psychic phenomena is sent to the Côte d’Azur mansion of a wealthy family, where a delightfully charming and convincing psychic is creating a stir.

(Participated in the New York State Post Production Credit program)

Sharknado 2 - July 30, 2014 on SYFY at 9:00PM

A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites - and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.

UPFRONTS Put New York Up Front 

Looks like another record-breaking year for New York television production.  Twenty-three pilots have shot in New York so far in 2014, which is already equal to the total number of pilots that shot in New York during the entire 2013 calendar year. In addition, there are nine television series already in production in New York this year with more to come, following the announcement made at the network Upfronts. 


For now, we know of several pilots that filmed in New York and have been picked up to series, all of which plan to continue to film in New York.  So, be on the lookout for the following upcoming series:

Allegiance (NBC) - Follows CIA operative Alex O’Connor as he discovers horrifying surprises about his family’s Cold War history.  Now that Russia is looking to recruit him as a spy, the family faces a choice between their country and their own safety.  The drama stars Hope Davis, Scott Cohen and Gavin Stenhouse.

Forever (ABC) - Tells the story of an ageless medical examiner in New York City (Ioan Gruffaud) as he tries to solve the mystery of his own immortality.  It also features Alana de la Garza and Judd Hirsch.

Friends Of The People (TruTV) – A sketch comedy show starring comedians Kevin Barnett, Jennifer Bartels, Jermaine Fowler, Lil Rel Howery, The Lucas Bros. and Josh Rabinowitz.

Gotham (Fox) - Takes place in the “Batman” universe, and tells the story of Det. Jim Gordon (The O.C.’s Ben McKenzie) as he rises through the ranks of the Gotham Police Department to become the Commissioner Gordon Batman fans know and love (the character was played by Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy).  One of his first cases: the murder of the billionaire Wayne couple, whose surviving son will one day grow up to be Batman.

Madam Secretary (CBS) - Follows Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni), a former CIA operative who has retired to a quiet life in academia, as she’s called upon to serve her country once again as Secretary of State. Back in the political realm, McCord faces daunting challenges with trademark intelligence and toughness.

Manhattan Love Story (ABC) - Stars Analeigh Tipton and Jake McDorman as two young  Manhattanites set up on a blind date.  The twist: the audience can hear their inner monologues as they bumble through the beginnings of their romance.

Mysteries Of Laura (NBC) – Follows a single mom NYPD homicide detective (Debra Messing) who cracks case after case while raising wild twin boys and locking horns with her less than helpful police detective ex-husband.

Public Morals (TNT) - Centers on New York City’s Public Morals Division, where cops walk the line between morality and criminality as temptations that come from dealing with all kinds of vice can get the better of them.  Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, and starring Ed Burns and Michael Rapaport.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmitt (NBC) – After 15 years of living in a cult, the unbreakable and wide-eyed Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, “The Office”) is rescued along with three other women, causing a national sensation that culminates with an appearance on the “Today” show.  Producers/Writers are Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. 

Younger
(TVLand) - follows 40-year-old Liza (Sutton Foster), a suddenly single mother who tries to get back into the working world, only to find out it’s nearly impossible to start at the bottom at her age.  Also stars Hilary Duff (“Lizzie McGuire”), Debi Mazar (“Entourage”) and Miriam Shor (“GCB”)

It also looks likely that the NBC pilot Odyssey, which filmed in Massachusetts, will be shooting its series in New York.  Odyssey is an action drama about an international conspiracy that explodes when three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide.

As mentioned above, nine television series are currently in production in New York:  The Leftovers (HBO), Unforgettable (CBS), Royal Pains (USA Network), Boardwalk Empire (HBO), One Bad Choice (MTV), Girls (HBO), Flesh and Bone (Starz), Brown Nation, Friends Of The People (TruTv); not to mention the nightly broadcast of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC.

With Season nine of NBC’s America’s Got Talent going live on May 27, Showtime’s The Affair and USA Network’s final season of White Collar about to start production, this makes for a very busy television shooting schedule in New York.

And the year isn’t half over yet.  So stay tuned……

Comcast/NBC Universal’s SPROUT channel relocates to 30 Rock, Creating 70 New Jobs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced that Sprout Network, a 24-hour cable television channel featuring a mix of new and classic preschool and children’s programming, will re-locate its operations from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Comcast/NBC Universal’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. The move will result in the immediate creation of 70 new jobs in New York, a number that is expected to grow as the company expands operations and workforce over the next five years. Sprout shows include PBS Kids favorites like Sesame Street and Barney & Friends, along with Sprout originals such as The Sunny Side Up Show and The Good Night Show. A subsidiary of Comcast Corporation, Sprout also provides video-on-demand service, making its programs available anytime with Sprout On Demand.

“This is another example of how the media and entertainment industry is flourishing in New York—with the support of our administration, companies like NBC Universal are bringing jobs, investments, and new opportunities to the Empire State,” Governor Cuomo said. “Sprout’s relocation will have an immediate impact on the regional economy, and I am proud to welcome them to New York State.”

 

Sunnyside Up Show on Sprout

Sprout’s New York team will include staff working in creative, programming, digital production, and corporate functions. In addition, Comcast/NBC Universal will continue to invest in upgrades of production and production support space, including new technologies at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

To see the full press release, click here.

From Rochester to Long Island, New York’s Biggest Production Boosts Local Economies

While it’s true that Spider-Man has always been a character of epic proportions, the latest installment of the Sony superhero franchise set new records for a single production filming in New York State.  As a recent release from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) documents, the numbers tell the story:  over 100 days of filming in the Empire State, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 employed over 3,900 cast and crew and 5,223 extras to the tune of $44 million in wages; spent over $150 million with local vendors like catering ($1.9 million), hotel rooms ($5.7 million for over 22,500 room nights) and site fees ($4 million).

With nine days of filming in Rochester for the breathtaking opening car chase/stunt sequence, and huge sets taking up 300,000 square feet of rented space, including two different production stages (Gold Coast and Grumman Studios) on Long Island –a full scale recreation of Times Square’s famous Father Duffy Square being just one example—the impact of the production’s jobs and spending were felt in communities Upstate and Downstate.  

“This summer’s biggest blockbuster, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is proof positive that New York State is the place to be for filming major motion pictures,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.  “Thanks to the Film Production Tax Credit Program, we were able to attract the largest movie production ever to be filmed in the Empire State, and it paid off for New Yorkers from Rochester to New York City and Long Island.  While filming across the State, Peter Parker and the Spider-Man team provided local businesses and communities with a big boost in revenue and hiring, and we look forward to the continued growth, successes, and economic impact of the film and television industry here in New York.”

To read the full MPAA press release, click here.

It should come as no surprise that The Molecule’s SoHo office feels a bit like the chemical building block from which the company takes its name: lively, abuzz with activity, and constantly in motion. It’s an office full of talented artists who comprise one of the leading lights in New York’s innovative and growing visual effects market.

It wasn’t all that long ago that a company like the Molecule might have seemed out of place in New York. “When we started back in 2005 there were only a handful of VFX studios who specialized in TV and Film and only a handful of projects to go around,” says Molecule Principal/Executive Producer Andrew Bly. However, over the past few years, that’s begun to change, as more post-production and visual effects shops open throughout the State. The result, says Bly, has been synergetic: “with greater cooperation, transparency and camaraderie among VFX shops, we have grown into a tight-knit community”.

 

VFX Coordinator Josh Sacavage shows faculty from Syracuse the automation features of The Molecule’s pipeline and how he prepares footage for artists to work on.

In many ways, the Molecule has been at the forefront of this development. Having recently celebrated its ninth anniversary, the company has grown to be a leading force in New York’s burgeoning post-production scene.

Specializing in visual effects, motion graphics and animation, the Molecule has worked on a number of acclaimed projects in recent years, from big screen successes like Lee Daniels’ The Butler to TV highlights like USA Network’s Royal Pains, and FX’ Rescue Me, which was among the Molecule’s earliest clients.  This track record will continue to grow in the coming months, with new seasons of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and FX’ The Americans, and the release of A Walk Among Tombstones, a gritty detective drama starring Liam Neeson, and Love and Mercy, a biopic of eccentric Beach Boys front man and songwriter Brian Wilson, with John Cusack and Paul Giamatti.

Asked to define the company’s mission, Principals/VFX Supervisors Chris Healer and Luke DiTommaso focused on the story-driven aspect of the work they do. “The Molecule facilitates storytelling with Visual Effects. We make it easy to bring the impossible to the screen,” they said. “We want to share our passion with those who love to tell amazing stories.” However, they’re also happy to step outside of their feature film and episodic TV comfort zone, having worked on countless advertising, motion graphics and interactive projects.

The Molecule, like many of its counterparts, is also a “good citizen”, committed to strengthening New York’s VFX and post-production sector at large, especially through its membership in the Post New York Alliance and the Visual Effects Society New York Section. As such, they have partnered with educational institutions like the School of Visual Arts, St. JohnFisherCollege in Rochester, and the non-profit Art Start, to offer advice, training and internships to budding VFX artists.  Most recently, faculty from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Television, Film and Radio and College of Visual and Performing Arts visited the SoHo office, where they consulted with The Molecule staff on building strong VFX curriculums and growing visual effects talent in central and upstate New York. “The Molecule is very passionate about education, and we are excited to be a part of the process,” noted Bly.

The company is also dedicated to educating its peers in the VFX world and elevating the work the industry does as a whole. They have created presentations explaining topics ranging from “the theory and practice of color in VFX,” to “the mechanics of New York’s post-production tax credit,” which they have presented to colleagues, demonstrating the cooperative spirit that typifies New York’s post-production scene.

After nearly a decade in the business, the Molecule remains a company on the rise and a dynamic player in a rapidly growing sector of New York’s economy. “We believe VFX should be accessible and sustainable for filmmakers and artists alike,” Healer, DiTommaso and Bly say. Going forward, there is little doubt that they will continue to make that vision a reality in New York.

Having left an indelible economic impact during its production in New York State last year, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 continued to give back to New York State and the communities in which it filmed this spring.  Thanks to the Governor Cuomo’s support for the industry and the New York State Film Production Credit program, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the largest film production to be shot entirely in New York State, shooting not only in NYC, but in Rochester and Nassau County as well.


But, the film’s impact didn’t end when the production wrapped last summer.

On April 24, Spider-Man joined New York States Park Commissioner Rose Harvey and New York State Governor’s Film Office Executive Director Gigi Semone, and paid a visit to a group of children at a volunteer call-to-action event at Riverbank State Park in Harlem. Spider-Man encouraged the elementary school kids to “Be a Hero” at their favorite State park and register to volunteer on Saturday, May 3 for I Love My Park Day.  To read full details on this event click here.

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The Amazing Spider-Man at Riverbank State Park


The following week, leading up to the national release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Nassau County and Rochester, New York were treated to an advanced screening of the film.  On Monday, April 28, Bellmore Cinemas hosted a full house of attendees from the local community, including elected officials, film industry members, area residents and municipal employees, many of whom helped on the film while it was in production.  A huge block of seats were also made available for local members of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, who not only met the film’s audience demographic, but were thrilled to have the opportunity to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 before its official release.  “The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was so much a part of our community during its production.  County Executive Ed Mangano was thrilled to have the opportunity to share this screening with the constituents of Nassau County, including members of the local Girls Scouts and Boy Scouts organizations,” added Debbie Markowitz, Director of the Nassau County Film Office. 

On Wednesday, April 30, a community screening was also held in Rochester, NY, where close to 500 attendees packed a theatre in the Regal Henrietta Cinemas.  Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy hosted the screening, and was joined by local elected officials who welcomed the large audience - the majority of which were local youth who received free tickets through the Monroe County Youth Bureau.  To read more about this special event, click here.

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution.  It fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community, represents a growing network of 10,000 storytellers around the world, and plays a key role in developing new feature and documentary works.  IFP guides storytellers through the process of making and distributing their work.  It offers creative, technological and business support through year-round programming, which includes Filmmaker Magazine, Independent Film Week, Envision (a unique partnership between IFP and the United Nations Department of Public Information), The Gotham Independent Film Awards, and the Independent Filmmaker Labs.

 Its latest initiative, the Made In NY Media Center by IFP is an incubator space developed with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, where storytellers from multiple disciplines, industries, and platforms can create, collaborate and connect.

IFP Executive Director Joana Vicente at MINY Media Center


“The Media Center is the perfect platform to carry forward the mission of IFP,” says Executive Director Joana Vicente, who came on board in 2009, and sees the Center “as a means to create community among a new breed of story-tellers and provide support for their projects.”

 Vicente’s experience in production provided plenty of exposure to the ever-changing technology that was shaping how content is made and consumed.  She co-founded Open City Films and HDNet Films with her husband Jason Kliot, whose films have been selected numerous times for the Cannes, Berlin, Venice, and Toronto film festivals and have garnered winning trophies at The Sundance Film Festival. The Media Center, she believed was the next step for IFP.  It was “the way for us to grow – by finding storytellers and connecting them to resources.”

In October 2013, the Media Center opened on the corner of Jay and John Streets in DUMBO, Brooklyn.  Facilities that are open to the public include an education center, featuring multiple classrooms designed to host a wide array of educational programs including hands-on workshops, live demonstrations and expert seminars; a media arts gallery, showcasing cutting-edge, new-media storytelling installations from artists within the international art and filmmaking community; a 72-seat screening room for exhibiting and sharing the latest work from the Center and around the world; and a 1,600-square-foot café encouraging casual collaboration and discussion in a social setting.  The state-of-the-art Media Center aims to bring together professionals from the film, television, advertising, new-media, gaming, marketing and branding industries for collaboration and new opportunities.

The Media Center is an expanding and creative community of established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and offers different levels of membership and participation.  To learn more, visit www.nymediacenter.com.