KINGSTON — Actress Mary Stuart Masterson wants to create a film, television and technology studio in Kingston that would focus on growing the region's film industry with an eye toward diversity.
Masterson is a producer and director who starred in "Fried Green Tomatoes" and lives in Dutchess County. Her push for the studio became public this month when she was the guest of Ulster County Executive Mike Hein at his State of the County address. Hein went to bat for the film industry by calling on the state to include Ulster County in an existing entertainment tax credit.
Masterson's studio, tentatively called Stockade Works, would be in either uptown or midtown Kingston. She hopes to have it open by spring 2017. The venture would combine film production, training for film crews and tech development — such as creating apps, video games and virtual reality — under one roof, Masterson said.
The project, with an investment in the millions of dollars, would help grow the film industry in the region, she said. It would also concentrate on creating more diversity in the entertainment world, especially among those doing blue-collar jobs.
Masterson said she's lined up people, including the heads of AMC studios and the Sundance Channel, to buy into the project. But she said the one thing that would help grow the industry further is having Ulster County qualify for the 10 percent state entertainment tax credit.
Hein said Ulster County has been "discriminated" against by Albany because it's been left out of the credit.
As it exists now, the credit applies to productions with budgets of more than $500,000. It allows productions to apply for an additional 10 percent tax credit for labor expenses. Ulster and Sullivan counties aren't eligible and Orange County is within the MTA zone and doesn't qualify either.
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, said Ulster County already qualifies for several film production tax credits, including a 30 percent film tax credit and an additional 5 percent tax credit. He said he's fighting for Ulster County to be included this year.
Masterson said with the tax break Ulster County would be close enough to New York City to take advantage of all it has to offer while far enough away to qualify for several film tax credits — and Ulster's existing arts and film culture.
"It's like a Goldilocks town," Masterson said. "Culturally it has its own gravitational center."