Making Movies, Creating Jobs
Facilities in Greene and Ulster counties aim to help the region’s economy and our image as a major player in the film industry.
Lumberyard Studios (pictured here) and Stockade Works foresee successful filming in the Valley.
Photo provided by Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts
Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts, a New York City-based company with a campus in Catskill, is getting ready for its closeup. On August 31, it formally unveils Lumberyard Studios, a 7,000 sq ft production facility for filmmakers and production companies in a repurposed — you guessed it — lumberyard.
The “purpose-built” soundstage has a 40-foot roof — thanks to the nonprofit Lumberyard’s successful Raise the Roof campaign — two levels of lighting galleries, state-of-the art acoustics, silent air conditioning, plus many more amenities. The facility is the first in Greene County to receive state designation as a Qualified Production Facility (QPF). That designation makes it particularly attractive to industry leaders: New York’s Film Tax Credit Program knocks 40 percent off the tax bill for production taking place at QPFs in upstate New York. Across Water Street, on the banks of the Catskill Creek, is another 5,000 sq ft of additional studio space.
Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts Executive and Artistic Director Adrienne Willis says 100 percent of the studio productions’ proceeds will fund their efforts to help artists bring their imagined works to life. The arts center will host artist residencies, with 13 rooms available onsite for lodging up to 20 people, flexible office space, kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as everything else an artist might need to incubate a performance. Lumberyard is also hosting a summer season of premieres and work-in-progress performances, so playwrights and directors can get initial audience feedback before hitting “the big time” in the city.
In July, Lumberyard welcomed its first audience to the Catskill campus with outdoor performances of STREB Extreme Action Company’s SEA (Singular Extreme Actions) and Bridgman|Packer Dance’s production of Truck. On Sept. 1, Lumberyard presents Savion Glover, who’s on stage with drummer Marcus Gilmore, the grandson of iconic drummer Roy Haynes.
In Kingston, the nonprofit Stockade Works is all about filmmaking from the ground up. Executive Director Beth Davenport and founder Mary Stuart Masterson (Benny & Joon, Fried Green Tomatoes) identified gaps in the labor of filmmaking and looked to redress them by creating a space to train Hudson Valley residents in an enormous array of production skills.
Stockade Works’ “boot camps” offer intensive instruction in sound work, art-department skills, and line-producing budgeting. All of these are slots that may not register as buzz-worthy, but are an integral part of the collaborative world of filmmaking. The upshot is that Stockade Works seeks to create trained, employable film workers.
Why here? According to Masterson, there is a finite amount of production capability in the traditional film centers of New York, California, and Vancouver, and the Hudson Valley is poised to fill the vacuum. Masterson spoke about this and more when she served on a panel at the recent Hudson Valley Film Conference — an event at the Culinary Institute of America that brought together a think tank of filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, and others involved in film and media in the region.
Stockade Works occupies a sprawling building in the heart of midtown Kingston and is primed to grow into a full-fledged media center, featuring a black box theater (the term for an unadorned, stripped-down theater space) and a soundstage.
When filmmaking comes to a region or state, Davenport points out, there can be an enormous benefit to the economy. Often, though, the benefits are not widely shared. But Stockade Works seeks to ensure that people benefit. To that end, they’ve joined with RUPCO, the regional affordable-housing organization, to help diversify the Hudson Valley’s economic ecosystem. They’ve also partnered with local schools, SUNY Ulster, and BOCES to help those institutions generate job-ready curricula.