The Accelerator Hosts Hudson Valley Film Industry Conference

Approximately 200 people both inside and outside the film industry came to The Accelerator’s Hudson Valley Film Industry Conference at SUNY Orange’s Kaplan Hall to learn and share ideas about various aspects of the rapidly expanding sector in the Hudson Valley, including choosing career paths, finding film locations and partnering with film companies.

“Besides providing equipment, direction and business services for new and existing manufacturers, we assemble conferences – like this one – to address important topics on industries that are impacting the Hudson Valley,” said Laurie Villasuso, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Orange County IDA and The Accelerator. “This conference is a very successful collaboration among The Accelerator, Orange County Film Office, Stockade Works, Orange County Arts Council and SUNY Orange.”

The film industry has seen steady growth in recent years, which provides much promise for the years ahead, Villasuso said. “The goal of this conference is to bring together industry insiders and those looking to help the industry to discuss ways that we can work together to successfully support the film industry in our region.”

Vincent Cozzolino, Managing Director of the IDA and The Accelerator, said they will use information gathered from this conference to help people work together to continue to move the industry forward. “Our interest, as economic developers, is to find out what this sector needs to grow in the Hudson Valley region,” he said.

Jerry Stoeffhaas, Deputy Director for the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and TV Development, said the Hudson Valley is perfect for shooting films and television because of the proximity to the New York City, the motivated governmental staff who work with production companies to help make productions happen, and the locations that are scenic.

Jerry Stoeffhaas at SUNY Orange
Jerry Stoeffhaas, Deputy Director for the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and TV Development

“You all live here. So you already know,” he said. “Look out the window. You have a great location. You have mansions, you have small towns, you have urban environments. You’ve got all these things.”

Stoeffhaas also emphasized that there are tremendous tax credits to work in the Hudson Valley, especially Orange, Putnam, Dutchess, Sullivan and Ulster counties. If productions do more than 75 percent of their work in New York State, they are eligible for a 30 percent tax credit on all “below-the-line” costs – crew and equipment (not actors, producers or directors). For Orange and Putnam counties and other counties north, there is an extra 10 percent tax credit on labor.

The event’s Producers Panel was moderated by actress Mary Stuart Masterson, who is also a director, producer and founder of Kingston-based Stockade Works. The panel included Barbara DeFina, Lucy Barzun Donnelly and Nicole Quinn, all producers in the industry who explained the reasons why they choose a location and how a production company should act on site, among other topics. “I think if you act like a good neighbor when you make a film, then the neighborhood reacts to you in the same way,” Quinn said.

“It’s a really great point. We need to be good guests in our communities so we are invited back,” Masterson said.

Also, for those interested in making their home, land or business available for a production, there was a breakout session about choosing a location. The panel discussed how the choice starts with a location professional reading the script and understanding the director’s vision for the aesthetics and the strategic framework of filming a project. Decisions are not just based on what is needed creatively, but also on cost factors because budgets are finite in the film industry. When looking for a site, film industry location professionals often work their networks, talk to real estate brokers and go online initially, and then they visit the sites in person.

Another session focused on how businesses can create partnerships with the film industry. Actress/producer Summer Crockett Moore said the film industry has very specific needs and that understanding those needs will either make or break a relationship with a business. “For example, if a caterer is 5 minutes late for lunch, that could cost a production company thousands of dollars,” she said. The panel summarized the partnership between a vendor and production company with the old adage: Better to under-promise and over-deliver to be successful.

The Accelerator wrapped up the event by handing out two Accelerator Awards for Leadership in the Film Industry, which went to Mary Stuart Masterson and Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton.