This week members of the Newburgh and film communities united at the Motorcycle Museum with the goal of devising a plan to attract the film industry to the City of Newburgh and Orange County. Hudson Valley film productions have declined, with 539 productions in 2010, dropping down to 412 productions in 2011. The goal is to find out how can that be reversed and increased.
The economic impact of having on-location productions is huge for the area. According to the Association of Film Commissioners International, a high end feature film can have an economic impact of about $100,000 per day, while a low budget film can have a $35,000 impact per day. Newburgh alongside the Orange County Arts Council would ideally like to open a film office, which main purpose would be to create a website, catalog locations, process permits, promote the area and negotiate agreements with unions and other parties involved.
This is an opportune time for Newburgh and Orange County to attract the film industry. Since 1966, the NYC film office has always issued permits for free. Now there is a $300 permit fee as well as $3,200 fee for the use of NYC municipal buildings. One film maker at the meeting said as much that there is a minimum fee of $3,800 per day. Regardless of the exact amount, these new fees have film makers searching elsewhere for more economic options. As John Johnston said in the New York Times, “This one fee is not going to destroy the film business in New York. But it’s an irritant, and it does hurt the independents…This is a highly mobile industry, and history has shown that when it’s more advantageous to move to adjacent states, that’s what happens.”
Still in New York, Newburgh is in a favorable location with easy access to an airport, ferry, train, and highways. There is less traffic transporting sets to Newburgh versus many towns in Long Island or Brooklyn. Being located only 60 miles north of the city also makes it a commutable location for many actors based out of Manhattan. And Newburgh’s diverse architecture makes it an ideal location for different period pieces and various urban settings. Another bonus feature is that Newburgh has its own sound stage company, Umbra.
The New York State Film Commission has already approved the permit that has been drawn up for Orange County. There are a few other details to be worked out and approved. What needs to happen now is to spread the word that Newburgh and Orange County want to work with the film industry. Hopefully a few features films can be attracted to the area that would thus facilitate a self sustainable film office without the use of grants.
What do you think? Would you like to see the film industry come to Newburgh?