Hudson Valley film productions set spending record with $48M

A technician carries equipment to the set of “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” at the corner of Fourth and Warren streets in Hudson.

The Hudson Valley’s film industry broke its annual spending record with three quarters recorded in 2021, according to a release from the Hudson Valley Film Commission.

With a spike of projects taking place in the region -- including the filming of HBO’s “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” in both Columbia and Greene counties — the industry spent more than $15 million from July 1 to Sept. 1, bringing the year-to-date total to more than $48 million. The previous spending record was set in 2019 at about $46 million, according to the commission.

“In addition, a dozen projects have either started up or are in consideration for the fourth quarter,” according to the commission.

New third quarter projects included “Untitled Nick Wootton/Jake Coburn Project” directed by Justin Lin (“Fast & Furious” anthology) for NBC/Universal, “Duet” (Hallmark/Choice Films) and “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” (HBO), according to the commission.

“Pretty Little Liars” has been filming in Hudson on Prison Alley and the Basilica, in the old Ockawamick School in Claverack, and in Catskill. The project has also been indicative of a “definitive shift” in hiring local cast, crew and vendors, according to the commission.

Continuing projects include HBO’s “White House Plumbers” starring Woody Harrelson and Hulu’s “Life & Beth” starring Amy Schumer and Michael Rapaport. Projects filmed elsewhere, like “Blue’s Clues & You,” relied on local industry workers, according to the commission.

Third-quarter totals do not include the multiplied effect of spending, according to the commission.

“That revenue, which results from shopping, cultural tourism, dining, recreation, new businesses, indirect jobs, services, royalties and new home buyers, should, however, be taken into consideration. The Film Commission also does not include post-production revenue even though we make every effort to recommend local film editors, sound editors, color correction professionals, VFX specialists, mixers and composers,” the commission said in a release.

Other impacts include more than 15,500 local hotel rooms and lodging booked, 115 production days, more than 160 jobs created for local industry members, and at least 1,259 jobs created for local actors and extras, according to the commission.

The second quarter of 2021 — April to June — was the busiest the commission had seen in 21 years with 15 projects in the region.

The commission said estimates for the second quarter indicate that production resulted in more than 70 days of work, more than 1,000 part-time jobs and 12,000 room nights, translating into an estimated $25 million in direct spending.

“We’ve never had this many productions in the region working simultaneously,” Film Commission Director Laurent Rejto said in a statement.

Heather Bagshaw, director of tourism for Greene County, said the pandemic played a role in the increase in productions this year.

“The pandemic put a stop on all production,” Bagshaw said. “Now, there’s a lapse in sort of new movies, series, videos - whichever type of genre the film is, and so now is kind of crunch time to get as many of these things filmed and out into the theaters and or streaming platforms,” Bagshaw said.

Prior to the pandemic, the county offered tax credits for filming in the area, Bagshaw said, and in years past, projects were often independent. Now, industry giants like Netflix and HBOMax have taken an interest in filming in the county.

Bagshaw said the tourism department helps facilitate films to get the approval they need to shoot in different areas.

The economic impact of the industry in Greene County is far-reaching, Bagshaw said. The typical process consists of pre-production, which includes set construction, film processing with actors and producers and post-production for breakdown.

“We have people here anywhere from six to eight weeks, living, eating and doing work here in the county, so that adds to the economics,” Bagshaw said. “They’re staying here, they’re eating here, they’re basically living here as part of the community for almost two months.”

Ann Cooper, director of tourism in Columbia County, said the film industry has sustained its presence in the community for more than 30 years.

Cooper said the county is home to many film industry employees, keeping the county in mind for filming, whether it’s features or TV series.

“Columbia County’s just in the reference point. It’s a frame of mind. It’s just outside of the New York City. It’s not too far and it’s just far enough,” Cooper said.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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