NEWBURGH – Film Industry professionals partnered with the Orange County Film Office, Arts Council and Industrial Development Agency Accelerator Thursday to hold the Hudson Valley Film Conference.  The conference was a way to invite those interested in the industry and the economic benefits it can bring, to have a place to gain industry advice, as well as work out the strengths and weaknesses of the region when it comes to large-budget screen productions.

Accelerator Program Director Melanie Schouten said the interest in large-scale production is relatively new, having gained momentum following the governor’s tax incentives regarding film industry production, so they decided to set up a forum for people to come together, swap information and network with each other.

“There have been a lot of businesses coming to the Accelerator and connections we’ve made recently, I think within the last year, that have really been asking for assistance for business development and growth and they just happen to be surrounding the film industry, whether they be a production studio, a vendor looking to connect with a production studio, or a producer, or a media of some sort,” said Schouten. “So, it’s really within the last year that it’s been brought to our attention.”

The Hudson Valley region has been known for some time for its arts community: independent films, studio recording, live theatre, music, etcetera, but to make the region marketable to “A-level” projects, some adjustments still need to be made.

Stockade Work’s founder, actress, Mary Stewart Masterson, who has been working to prepare the region for every aspect of large-budget film productions from talent to infrastructure, including their recent completion of an industry “boot camp” for locals to be trained for industry employment, said the main focuses to bring in the level of production that will benefit the region will be in dealing with the unions, as well as making sure there is the studio infrastructure available for large-budget production.

Unions, like SAG, currently have a bubble they operate in called “The Zone,” which is an area surrounding New York City that, due to prohibitive fees and logistics, acts as a barrier to getting larger scale projects to come to fruition outside of the city.

Masterson said convincing the unions to work outside of the city will be a huge factor for successful productions in the Hudson Valley.

“We just need to work with the unions to collaborate on the best way to accomplish that, so that it’s not an impediment to longer term production, like television production that operates as efficiently as possible, but for a long period of time,” said Masterson. “A big movie could come here and bring their crew and leave. It’s a finite project. A TV show needs to work as efficiently as possible, but might be here for many years and spend many, many, many, many millions of dollars; so, that’s the kind of business we want to attract for economic development and job creation.”

Continuing to make sure there are the proper studio spaces to draw that kind of business is also something that is continuing to be worked on, with Stockade Works developing their own spaces in Kingston at least.

The next step will be a White Paper to provide statistics on the region which will include logistical cost estimates, such as lodging, municipal fees and transportation.

The research for that paper is currently being conducted and there are plans for having the region ready for an influx of large scale productions by next year.

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