NEWBURGH, N.Y. >> Film and television industry professionals are expecting the Hudson Valley to be the next hub for “A” level productions, according to actress Mary Stuart Masterson.
Founder of the non-profit Stockade Works, Masterson said during a keynote address at the Upstate Venture Association of New York’s 2017 Annual Celebration on Thursday that her organization is working to root the industry in the region.
Stockade Works has unveiled plans to develop television and film production studios on South Prospect Street in Kingston.
Masterson said, pending the recent 40 percent tax incentives on behalf of the state, and more locally tax breaks for movie/film production introduced in Ulster County by County Executive Michael Hein, the Hudson Valley is poised for a big boom.
“There’s going to be a lot of demand and now we just need to meet the demand by training the workforce, and connecting the existing workforce, who may not really even think that there are any job opportunities here and so commute to New York City, or wherever, to work,” said Masterson. “We’re finding those people, creating a database, connecting them, training the workforce through our own crew and technology boot camps, and also working with existing schools to help them build out their curriculum.”
These boot camps and school programs would help prepare veterans, those new to the job market and those returning to the job market for professional-level production positions like gaffing, gripping, sound and stage construction, lighting and other roles, she said.
Although the tax incentives will make a huge difference to major production companies, and despite there being a wealth of local talent, Masterson said, there are still some obstacles to overcome — a major one being a zone established around New York City by film/movie production unions.
Within that zone, she said, producers must pay a stipend for using employees outside the metropolitan area, a stipend that may put off producers from hiring Hudson Valley people.
Masterson said her organization is looking to alleviate this burden and said the only thing holding back the Hudson Valley from being a major location for production is money, not time.
“If somebody said, ‘I’m coming. I’ll be there in two months,’ we could do it,” she said. “All we need is the production to say they’re coming and we just need to do it, so it really doesn’t have to take very long.”
Masterson speculated that, within the next two years, the Hudson Valley could be host to four television productions and one major motion picture production per year.