Upstate New York’s film industry has taken off in the last five years – and the effects are especially being felt in the Hudson Valley. Jobs and national recognition have come to the region because of it, and there’s one film company leading the charge.
“That beep you just heard? That is bad on a film set. Sofia, say something in your walkie on channel one,” says Summer Crockett Moore to a group of 30.
She’s the managing partner of Choice Films, a company that prefers to operate out of their sound stages in Newburgh, a company calling the Hudson Valley home. Their film bootcamp, Below The Line, runs the gamut of jobs in film and opens opportunities up those looking for a new calling in life or the right chance to get their foot in the film door.
Dyondra Stephenson, an Orange County resident, is exactly who it caters to. Before she stumbled upon their booth at an SUNY Orange job fair, she was considering careers in an office.
“I just started getting excited. I was like ‘Wait, this is something I could see myself doing!’ ” said Stephenson.
Many graduates move on to work full-time on the company’s productions, like Earl Legister.
“Taking these baby steps and creating that foundation with this program, I tell you what, you are going to find your way,” said Legister to Stephenson.
Choice Films set up shop in the Hudson Valley in 2018, and what was one soundstage quickly became six. The company employs hundreds on a regular basis for shows like “Pretty Little Liars,” Brendan Fraser’s Oscar-winning “The Whale,” and Peacock’s “Poker Face.”
“We want to keep doing what we’re doing. We want to continue to bring the projects here so that this is a thriving place for film,” said Tony Glazer, managing partner of Choice Films.
Hollywood is big business in New York, and competition is fierce with states around the region vying for productions. One way to attract work? Tax incentives. In recent years, New York has offered a 25% tax credit on productions.
Both Connecticut and New Jersey offer a 30-35% credit, which forced Choice Films to follow the money. Three of their projects in the last year have been in neighboring states.
“We just kept trying to make sure people didn’t give up on New York,” said Glazer.
In late April, Governor Kathy Hochul announced expanded film tax incentives in the state budget, allowing New York to match 30% tax credits offered by other states.
“I can’t say enough on how much that helps drive all of this,” said Glazer.
The effects are being felt, and the work is staying local.
“I’ve been on set with these kids and then working on set and then telling me like, listen, how ‘we've been bagging groceries’ or something and this like, here, it's more meaningful than what they were doing prior,” said Legister.