Let’s talk Sundance!

Today’s entry is a recap of the The NY Lounge at Sundance. There was a whole new concept in the Lounge this year. Tables and chairs were replaced with couches and ottomans so the atmosphere was much more casual. Every morning there was a catered breakfast, with a different sponsor each morning. Guests at the lounge could enjoy a cup of coffee, tea or cider; toast a bagel and relax prior to the day’s panel discussion.

Day one started with our NY Town Hall networking event. Sponsors and guests had an opportunity to collaborate with each other to kick off the week. That afternoon we hosted a Crowdfunding panel with Emily Best (Seed & Spark), Kristen Konvitz (Indiegogo), Dan Schoenbrun (Kickstarter), Sara Kiener (Film Presence), Mike Nichols and Christopher Walker. At 4:00 the music started, we call it the Cider House Sessions with performances by Jocelyn Arndt, Natalie Gelman, Kris Gruen, Motopony, Peppina and Grace Weber. It was a fabulous first day.

The rest of the week followed suit with 2 panels each day; Director of Photography panel, Post on an indie budget, Production, a JVC 4K CAM demo, Production Accounting, Indie Financing, Distribution Trends and finally Music in Film.

The panels were well attended, the information that the experts provided was valuable.

The Cider House Sessions each night were a nice way to cap off a very productive day.

Along the way, I was able to reconnect with the NY Lounge regulars, who look forward to visiting the NY Lounge on Main Street in Park City each year, as well as making new friends and connections with producers whose projects are a good fit for our region.

I can’t forget to mention 2 very special guests that visited the NY Lounge this year, Marilyn O’Conner and Gordy Hoffman; Gordy’s short film DogBowl was screened in one of the short film programs. Congratulations Gordy! Seeing them helped to chase away the homesick blues that I was feeling after a few days.

I will be doing a lot of follow-up for the next few weeks. Stay tuned to this page and our Facebook page for more updates.


Of Course You Call The Film Commission First!

Question: Why You Should Work With A Film Commission?

Answer: If you need assistance in securing detailed information about a location including local crew and talent; equipment; permits; public property; hard and soft incentives; government liaisons; research and referral; and more. That’s why.

Films Commissions provide their services to production companies free of charge. Our job is to make your job easier!

Question: How Do I Work With A Film Commission?

Answer 1: We’re here to make your job easier; to help to make your production run as seamlessly as possible.If you are a filmmaker considering a region for your production, your very first call should be to the Film Commission. Even if you live and work in that region!

Answer 2: If you are a film professional, or production service provider who lives and works in the region, keep the Film Commission updated on what you have been working on, as well as any new services or equipment that you have to offer.

Nora Brown
Film Commissioner
Rochester/Finger Lakes Region

What a Festival!

I couldn’t let another day go by without posting some of my thoughts on the 2014 High Falls Film Festival. And what a festival it was!

The programming committee spent countless hours screening all of the films that were submitted via Without-A-Box and Festival Freeway. I am not sure exactly how many films were submitted, but I can say that there were a LOT!

Johannes Bockwoldt took on the programming for the 2 Short Film Programs, and everyone who attended those screenings expressed their appreciation after the program.

“Cyber Seniors” was selected Best Documentary by the festival audience, and THE PARK BENCH took home the honors as Best Narrative.

Elaine Madsen’s Documentary “I Know A Woman Like That” was a standout as well, screening twice during the festival, and Elaine was present for the follow up Q and A.

The parties were exciting, including a Craft Beer Tasting at the Century Club, following a film titled “Crafting A Nation”.

I can’t end this post without mentioning a screening that was sponsored by DeBegerac Productions. Mike Champlin shared his restoration (from nitrate) of FLY LOW JACK AND THE GAME. Filmed in 1927, written and directed by Marion Gleason, a friend and confidante of George Eastman. Marion truly was one of the first female filmmakers.

At the High Falls Film Festival, we’re on a mission to celebrate the achievements of women in all aspects of filmmaking by showing the best independent films created by female cinematic artists.

See you all in 2015!

and then…..

blog, blog,blog….Every day I sit down at my desk and tell myself “today I will update our blog space”. E-mails, phone calls, meetings; and the next thing I know another day has gone by and still no updated blog post.

Today is the day!

We are being kept very busy here at the Rochester Film Commission. Steady flow of phone calls from producers inquiring about regional infrastructure and support services, locations and crew. Features, Television, Commercials and even a few Reality TV productions are heading our way soon. Each project has their specific needs, no two the same. That may be the best part of this job. Every day brings interesting people and fascinating stories in to our lives.

High Falls Film Festival programming continues to sail along. This year’s submissions have been over the top. We are locking in some amazing programming for this year’s festival. If you have never experienced the High Falls Film Festival, then be sure to save the dates. October 23-26. If you are already a friend of the festival, then be prepared to be amazed. (I recommend that you not miss the shorts programs.)

All of the films are sure to please, but the special programs are really going to make you smile.

Phone ringing again! It appears that some filmmakers that we met back in March in L.A. are ready to take us up on our invitation to scout this region for their film.

Stay tuned folks!

And…….we’re back!

I have no idea how so much time has passed since the last time I posted news on the ROC Film Commission blog. The weather finally cooperated, and it was almost as if someone fired the starter’s pistol for productions to get underway.

We have been keeping very busy here at the Film Commission.  Out of town productions have been been keeping the phone lines busy, and local production is humming along too.

It was nice to have a few winter features at the beginning of the year.  If a film needed snow and cold for their atmosphere, we were certainly able to accommodate them this year. 

Kerstin Karlhuber and her cast and crew took full advantage of our region’s locations for their filming destination.  The Film Commission was able to host Gregory Harrison, Lily Harrison, Tom Malloy and Lisa Varga for dinner at 2 Vine. 

A few weeks later, Michael Grant, Dale Wade Davis, Tom Malloy and Lily Harrison joined us for a tour of the George Eastman House, with a very special tour provided by Deborah Stoiber.  The George Eastman House is a favorite stop for visiting filmmakers.  Getting a look in to the life of George Eastman and the role that he played in the evolution of the film industry was an expereince that our guests will never forget.  “It was like a baseball fan going to Cooperstown” was one analogy that I heard that day.

Michael Grant spent part of his day off at the Strong National Museum of Play. He hung out on Sesame Street, walked through the history of video games and even cheked out the Wegman’s experience….shopping, checking out and restocking the shelves. 

The Rochester/Finger Lakes Film Commission has a very simple motto; make it easier for productions to shoot here, make them feel at home while they are here.  They will be back; and they will tell all of their filmmaking friends to bring their productions here too!




Can you Imagine?

I had the craziest dream last night. I was speaking to a group of producers and location scouts….I was really pouring on the drama.

Here’s how I remember the dream.

“Imagine a region with locations that are exactly the way you envision for your film. Imagine that they are affordable and film friendly.
Imagine low-cost permits and seamless street closures.

Imagine a strong infrastructure, multiple qualified production facilities and abundant support services. Imagine a deep pool of experienced and energetic crew.

Imagine a 30% rebate on below the line production spending with an extra 10% on below the line labor. Can you imagine if all of this could be found in one amazing city?

Now, close your eyes and picture your next shoot in the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region of New York State.”

We have been shooting films here since George Eastman and Thomas Edison invented the film industry.

It’s all right here! What are you waiting for?


That’s a wrap!

As we prepare to close out another year as Film Commission for the Rochester and Finger Lakes regions, we wanted to leave you all with a brief review on the activity at the office.

We handled approximately 280 calls from out of town and regional filmmakers; representing feature films, network TV, reality TV , commercials, music videos, still shoots and corporate work.

Those calls resulted in approximately 500 shoot days. (Shout out here to Deputy Director Karl Goldsmith!)

Spiderman fought crime Hollywood style, at high speed on our Main Street; and a well known reality show star found himself in Federal Court here in Rochester, as media from all over the globe came to document the process. The PGA tournament was covered by journalists far and near with special interest stories about everything from our wine region to Walter Hagen’s rise from caddy to Golf Legend. America’s Got Talent brought their reality show cameras to capture the hometown of one of their contestants.

Locations from Watkins Glen to Batavia NY, Lyons to Letchworth State Park were featured on large and small screens and in print during 2013.

2014 is already shaping up to be a very busy year, and the Governor’s redefined Upstate version of the Film Incentive Program is working to attract the attention of filmmakers who want to film in our region.

Be on the look out for 2 feature films shooting winter scenes here in early 2014.

And that’s just the beginning…..

Happy Holidays to all of our film professionals and supporters; we wish you a healthy and prosperous 2015!