Sunday, December 25, 2016

Actress Seeks to Attract Film Production to Area

By Mark Reynolds
 Actress, director, producer Mary Stuart Masterson [Fried Green Tomatoes] is working with Ulster County Executive Mike Hein to bring a production house to the county.
    Masterson said she has helped to create Stockade Works, a public-private partnership aimed at creating a new media center in Kingston.
    Masterson said it has been noted there is a lack of  diversity in all areas of production “as well as technologists jobs so our hope is to grow the workforce and actually give access to people who otherwise have not had access and on the job training.”
    Masterson said she came to the area with her four children “and I want to work where I live. I don’t want to have to move to Los Angeles or Georgia. I want to stay here.”
    Masterson has wondered why Ulster County does not have more production opportunities and questioned the unfairness of the state tax incentive program offered to film and television companies that leaves the county out of that advantage. She has been working with Hein on this issue and has begun to reach out to various heads of production urging them to work in Ulster County.
    “Space is cheap and there are a lot of people out of work who could go to work there is a lot of the creative class who already live there, there’s talent, writers, directors, producers, actors, sound mixers, editors, film composers living here, so why isn’t it working,” she said. “They say the tax incentive package is good but it’s not good enough to compete with Georgia.”
    Masterson said those she has asked, such as the head of AMC studios, the Sundance Channel, said they would come if the tax program were more favorable.
    While pushing for this change, Masterson said the goal of Stockade Works is “to get a building, build up the infrastructure, [have] a state of the art sound stage facilities, post-production facilities, and push some training in partnership with the SUNY system and the Community College to offer annual boot camp training to try to teach people crew production skills. Even though it’s a union dominated workforce, you have to learn it and get hours and then get union membership.”
    Masterson said it is often difficult for a new person to “get in” and she hopes this new venture will make it easier for those simply wishing for the chance to get their foot in the door.
    “You do need to create a little eco-system where you’re bringing in jobs and you’re training the workforce,” she said.
    Masterson is already working on the curriculum and is hoping to have a space within a year “but within the next six months we have one television production that Locomotive Film and Television is bringing here and we have a Lifestyle Hudson Valley based television reality show that we are going to shoot and edit here.”
    Masterson said they are also developing an app “that has to do with Hudson Valley makers; so we’re developing projects that will be here. If this happens I can guarantee you, based on the conversations that I have had with production companies, we will have a big uptick in production within six months, really fast. If it happens people will be here.” She said last year there were more than 400 television shows in production [and] “they all have to shoot somewhere and New York City is full, we’re not taking their jobs away, we’re competing with other distant locations and this is a uniquely special area. It’s kind of like the goldilocks zone for production…and this will make a huge difference.”      

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