Tag Archives: film

Astoria filmmakers turn to Kickstarter to fund ‘dialogue-free,’ 12-part film

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Cynthia Angel

Two Astoria filmmakers are hoping to reach their goal that will allow them to set an acclaimed music producer’s debut solo album to film.

Cynthia Angel and Dominic Lahiff, the minds behind D L A Films, are coming together with producer Neil Davidge – known for his work with Massive Attack, and the “Halo 4” video game – to create the mystery revenge thriller audiovisual film “Slo Light.”

They turned to Kickstarter, with a goal of $70,000, to raise funds needed for the preproduction, production and post-production of the film.

Since launching on Thursday, the campaign has already raised $5,156.

“It’s been a really interesting process. We’ve been working on it for two years,” said Angel, whose dream has been to produce her own film. “We’re really excited and happy to be able to reach an audience and make it happen. The story is going to be really cool.”

The trio first came together when working on “Dark Universe” – in which Lahiff was the director/writer, Angel was the producer, and Davidge was the music producer – for the American Natural History Museum. The short film is narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson and is still on view at the Hayden Planetarium at the museum.

After this project, Angel and Lahiff were asked to work on a music video for Davidge and while working on the video developed the idea for a cinematic album. For the next year, Lahiff worked on a story for the film and the two filmmakers then got back together with Davidge.

“Our visions are aligned and we have the same taste and like working together, and from there stems the idea to make a film together,” Angel said about working with Lahiff.

The film will be divided into 12 chapters, which will be released online during the course of 12 weeks. Each chapter will be set to a track from Davidge’s debut album, “Slo Light.” It will have no dialogue and will be shot in 35mm film.

Screen Shot Slo Light

“We want to keep that [35mm] format alive. A lot of times people think film is too expensive so we want to prove that it can still be done and make a beautiful film,” Angel said.

For Angel, creating this film is a dream come true because she always hoped to be able to produce her own film.

“It feels amazing, it’s kind of terrifying but really exciting at the same time but it feels really good. I feel all the experiences I’ve gained throughout the years have led up to this moment,” Angel said.

If their project is fully funded, the plans are to shoot the film in the fall, with a slated release date for early spring of 2016.

For more information or to donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here. To stay updated on the project visit twitter.com/slolightfilmfacebook.com/slolightfilm or dlafilms.com.


PHOTOS: New Baz Luhrmann Netflix series films exterior scenes in Glendale

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Scenes for the upcoming Netflix series “The Get Down,” a musical hip-hop drama set in the late 1970s, were filmed on Wednesday afternoon at the former K-9 Caterers off Cooper Avenue in Glendale.

The empty storefront was transformed into “Adele’s Beauty Shop,” complete with retro signs advertising “summer braids.” Extras clad in bell bottoms and platform shoes filed onto the set amid vintage Cadillacs and lighting rigs.

The series is a period drama following the lives of a group of teenagers from the South Bronx during 1978. Events within the show will also coincide with political and cultural milestones, such as the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx.

“The Get Down” is set to star Jimmy Smits, Giancarlo Esposito and singer-songwriter Herzien Guardiola, who will play the female lead Mylene Cruz, daughter of Rev. Ramon Cruz (played by Esposito). Mamoudo Athie will star as rap pioneer Grandmaster Flash, and Jaden Smith will also appear in a cameo.

The series is spearheaded by director Baz Luhrmann of “Moulin Rouge” and “Great Gatsby” fame and is set to air on Netflix in 2016.



Behind-the-scenes look at LIC TV and film prop company

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Located inside a three-floor, 91,000-square-foot Long Island City warehouse lies a world only seen in movies or television.

Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. is one of the largest prop rental companies on the East Coast. It made the western Queens neighborhood its home about two years ago after moving from Manhattan, where it was founded and was housed for over three decades.

The company was started by Suri Bieler, who began her career as a prop person in theater. She decided she wanted to have a steady business rather than work as a freelancer, so she looked into prop renting.

She then realized that renting props did not work for theater because of various reasons such as no known end date for shows and even a superstition about renting props among the theater community. So instead, Bieler decided to go into renting for television and film, and with only $175 she began Eclectic.

“I realized I had to get huge overnight. Just because you have a name for a company doesn’t mean people want to use it,” she said.

A few years later she approached the owners of another prop company named Encore, which at the time was celebrating its 100th anniversary, and she purchased Encore, bringing along all of its props.

Since then Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. has grown into offering millions of items, big or small, that have been used in television shows, movies, off-Broadway shows and at parties.

“People don’t really think that a prop company exists,” Bieler said. “If it’s filming in New York we’re probably renting to them.”

As you walk through the building, located at 47-51 33rd St., you’ll find props organized in different sections based on themes and uses. There is a section for almost every region of the world such as Africa and Asia; there are categories for different kinds of television sets ranging from modern to vintage ones; and there’s a room dedicated entirely to toys from different time periods.

Almost every wall throughout the warehouse has paintings or different art pieces that can be rented, and there are also binders scattered throughout to help visitors get more detailed looks into various items, which are all individually bar-coded.

Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. offers items from large furniture pieces to even the smallest details that can be found in movies or shows such as small picture frames, vanity items such as perfume bottles or men’s shaving sets, and even paper that is thrown in drawers.

Bieler’s husband is responsible for the “free-flowing layout” of the facility and is also the owner and creator of “Monsterpalooza -The Art of Monsters,” a convention in Burbank, California, that promotes the artists who make the monsters in film.

“[I enjoy] just being able to help customers find all the pieces they are looking for and creating that world they want us to believe when we go to the movies because I do believe,” she said. “There’s a history they are trying to present. All the details of a life go into decorating for film, television, and even Broadway.”

The company also offers rooms for rent and recently opened up a studio available for photographers.

Some shows which the company has rented out props to include “Girls,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” “Sex and the City,” “The Good Wife” and “The Sopranos.”

Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. has also provided props for big motion pictures such as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Big,” “Carlito’s Way,” “Ghostbusters,” “I am Legend,” “Mr. Deeds,” “National Treasure,” “Night at the Museum,” the “Spider-Man” trilogy and “The Devil Wears Prada.”

“A business like this is never finishes. It’s always growing. It’s always a lot of fun,” Bieler said. “It’s an interesting way of collecting. I’m very lucky I made a business out of it.”

People can find every item available for rent at the warehouse on the company’s website and Bieler hopes to one day make the warehouse open to tours where visitors will be able to get an idea of the history of particular items and also who has rented them in the past.

Eclectic/Encore Props Inc. is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information visit www.eclecticprops.com, or follow on Instagram.


LIC’s Silvercup Studios to expand into Bronx next year

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

With the film and television industry continuing to grow in the Big Apple, the city’s leading independent film and television production studio is making sure to keep up with the demand.

Silvercup Studios, located at 42-22 22nd St. in Long Island City, announced Monday it will be expanding into the Bronx with a $35 million project that will turn a modern warehouse into a 115,000-square-foot full-service production facility called Silvercup North.

The new building, located at 295 Locust Ave., will be Silvercup Studios’ third location and is expected to be completed by June 2016.

“For more than 30 years, Silvercup Studios has been an integral part of New York’s film and television production industry, which has never been more active that it is today,” said Alan Suna, Silvercup CEO. “The Bronx is undergoing a tremendous revitalization right now. We’re excited to expand our studios here as the industry continues to grow and to bring with it high-quality production jobs and the resulting benefits from having this production work remain in New York.”

Silvercup North will feature four production studios with 50-foot-high ceilings – the highest of any film or television production studio in the city. There will also be on-site shops, offices and other support space needed.

The $35 million project is also expected to bring about 80 to 100 construction jobs, along with later providing about 400 production industry jobs.

“The film and television industries have historically offered good jobs with pathways to success for New Yorkers, and the expansion of this thriving industry will be hugely meaningful for Bronxites,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The new facility is close by to several major expressways, the RFK (Triborough) Bridge and the 6 line.

“With additional studio space, more television shows and feature films that may have been filmed elsewhere can now take advantage of all the benefits of filming in New York,” said Stuart Suna, president of Silvercup Studios. “The central location and nearby access to highways and public transportation, as well as the incredible soaring ceilings at this Locust Avenue location will surely be a draw for producers. The height and size of these new sound stages will allow us to attract television and feature film work to New York that we have heretofore not been able to accommodate at our other facilities.”


Astoria group turns to community to raise money for film project

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Astoria Stand Up

One Astoria organization is turning to the diverse community it calls home to help release a film and soundtrack addressing the issue of social inequality in today’s world.

Astoria Stand Up was formed a little over a year ago and was born out of the idea of a short film called “Astoria Park,” written and directed by Paras Chaudhari and Chrysovalantis Stamelos.

Chaudhari and Stamelos, now Astoria residents, came up with the concept of the film in 2003 while they were students at Syracuse University and had the idea of creating a movie set in a basketball court, where opposing sides clashed heads.

However the “purpose” of the film wasn’t discovered until Chaudhari and Stamelos moved to Astoria and, as a South Asian American and Greek American, they decided to focus the script on examining the hatred and inequalities faced in a neighborhood as diverse as Astoria.

“As soon as the concept of the film happened we knew it would be a New York City film,” Chaudhari said. “Astoria Park represents this one big place in the neighborhood that no matter who you are and where you come from, you come to this place to relax and be with the community.”

What began as a four-minute music video turned into a half-hour short film following two enemies divided by their cultures and desires to own the right to a local basketball court. These two characters come into contact with other characters who also struggle with issues in sexuality, racism, identity, faith and how the problems are dealt with on and off the court.

“We weren’t seeing fair and accurate representation of ourselves in the mainstream media. Not only was it not fair, it was also dangerous representation,” Chaudhari said. “We wanted to take a gritty look at the socio-cultural shift that is continuing to happen and pick up especially in this neighborhood.”

The short film has since been featured at film festivals and has made headlines throughout the world.

However, for the writers, there was still more to do and after having spent some time trying to find private investors to fund the film they decided to instead turn to the community they represent – which is where Astoria Stand Up was born.

The group has since become a platform for underrepresented perspectives and communities and movement of artists fighting social inequalities simply by coming together and representing the change they want to see, according to Chaudhari.

“Astoria Stand Up has become its own entity and will continue to be a platform for underrepresented perspectives,” he said.

The group started a Kickstarter campaign last month to fund their project called “Harmony & Dissonance,” which looks to make “Astoria Park” into a feature film and also put together a soundtrack for the movie. The campaign has a goal set at $300,000 and ends on June 21.

The soundtrack, which will be called “Harmony Session” and includes ten tracks, will bring together poets and musicians of diverse backgrounds to collaborate on tracks that each will represent an act of social change.

A percentage of each track sold will then go toward an organization that is “making a difference in the world.”

Chaudhari added that he wants anyone interested in making a donation or anyone who has questions to reach out to the group because the main goal throughout the process has been to involve the community.

“For anyone that participates in this they are more than participants,” he said. “The people who contribute to this will be the ones that say, ‘Hey, I made this happen.’”

To donate to the Kickstarter, click here. For more information on Astoria Stand Up, visit www.astoriastandup.com.


Film to feature Middle Village

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy David Lee Madison

Middle Village native and acclaimed filmmaker David Lee Madison is returning to his roots to shoot his next film named for the neighborhood where he grew up.

Madison currently lives in Milford, Pennsylvania, but he spent the first 27 years of his life in Middle Village. He attended St. Margaret’s School, P.S. 49 and I.S. 119, and is a graduate of Queens College.

Over the years, he has seen his hometown transition and change, giving him an insider’s perspective of the area, both past and present.

“We plan on showcasing the most important aspect of Middle Village, its residents,” Madison said of the film. “We will also bring the viewer back to some great nostalgic places of the past. We hope to make a film that is informative, smart, nostalgic and funny.”

Growing up in Middle Village left a long-lasting impression on Madison, and he intends on sharing what he loves about his hometown in this film, which he described as having “elements of a documentary film with a staged narrative to set some of our talking points.”

“Middle Village had such a positive impact on the person I grew up to be,” he said. “The place was so unique to any other place I have been, I feel this story should be told. My favorite memories of growing up in Middle Village are playing ball at the schoolyard, riding my bike in the park and hanging out with my wonderful group of friends.”

“I don’t think that many people realize that Middle Village, which is just a handful of miles away from the biggest city in the world, was and still is just a small town,” Madison continued. “Much like you would find in the middle of America.”

Madison and his crew have already begun filming scenes for the movie, visiting staples of the Middle Village community such as London Lennie’s restaurant on Woodhaven Boulevard, Juniper Valley Park, Middle Village Playground and areas of Metropolitan Avenue.

“We plan on filming at several other locations throughout Middle Village over the next two months,” Madison said.

Filmmaking has been a major part of Madison’s life since his early childhood.

“I developed a love for film as a very young kid,” Madison said. “When I was about 8 years old I remember seeing “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time. It had such a visceral impact on me, I knew right away I wanted to be a filmmaker.”

This love of filmmaking led Madison to create some great horror films, including his last film, “Mr. Hush,” a throwback to classic slasher films. This movie about Middle Village will be a drastic change from Madison’s usual work.

“As a filmmaker, you like to explore different things,” he explained. “I have a great passion for my old neighborhood, and feel we can tell a story that will connect to people throughout the country. My last film, ‘Mr. Hush,’ had become a bit of a cult classic in the horror genre; it was even placed in The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library to be preserved forever. I just wanted to take a step back from my beloved genre for a moment.”

With no set release date yet for “Middle Village,” Madison expects the film to come out right before Christmas.


Bayside actor muscles in on Hollywood

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Peter Gaudio

Bayside actor Peter Gaudio is keeping himself quite busy these days both on and off the screen.

Gaudio has a starring role in the upcoming Steve Rahaman film “Snitches,” which according to IMDb is scheduled to premiere in 2016. Starring Chris Victor and Daniel O’Shea, the movie tells the story of a New York City crime boss undermined by an associate working with corrupt police officers to bring the syndicate down.

The Bayside resident and Corona native was most recently featured in the boxing film “Back in the Day,” starring Alec Baldwin, Danny Glover and Michael Madsen. He’s also part of “Take it Back,” a mob TV drama currently in production.

But away from the production sets, Gaudio showcases his comedic and singing talents during the “Wiseguys and Women of Comedy” act playing weekly at Il Bacco restaurant in Little Neck.

An active bodybuilder and former Mr. New York City, Gaudio got his first break on the screen in the 1992 film “A Bronx Tale” starring Chazz Palmentieri and Robert DeNiro, who also directed. Gaudio said DeNiro selected him in an open audition for one of many background roles in the film shot on location in Astoria.

Over the years, he worked to refine his acting craft, studying with many renowned acting coaches in New York City including the late actor William Hickey and Alice Spivak.

Those lessons paid off for Gaudio, as he’s worked in dozens of films and television shows based in New York and had a recurring role in the off-Broadway murder-mystery show “Murdered by the Mob.” Even so, there’s only one role more important in his life.

“Working with talented artists is living a dream, but the best role I play each and every day is being the greatest father I can be to my 10-year-old daughter Petrina,” he said.


Kickstarter goal reached to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

The dream of one Queens native to finish up what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie is closer to becoming a reality.

As of Monday morning, the Kickstarter campaign for the post-production of the film “The Last Film Festival,” by filmmaker and Forest Hills native Linda Yellen, surpassed its goal of $90,000, nine days before its deadline.

“I had tears in my eyes as well as smiling, I keep seeing Dennis smiling,” said Yellen about how she felt when she found out at 4 a.m. that the goal had been surpassed. “I have such immense gratitude. I have just fallen in love with people all over the world who are so open to making things possible. They changed our lives.”

According to Yellen, the online campaign was one of the hardest experiences she has gone through, but was amazing and gratifying because she said she felt she was making friends all around the world.

“[They’re] kind of saying, ‘We love you, Dennis,’” Yellen said. “People are saying, ‘We do remember and we want to see Dennis.’”

Linda Yellen on set directing "The Last Film Festival."

Linda Yellen on set directing “The Last Film Festival.”

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in remaining scenes.

“The Last Film Festival,” which was written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The movie follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every festival except the small town festival called the O’Hi Film Festival.

All of the movie was filmed in Queens, with the majority of the scenes shot in parts of Forest Hills including Forest Hills High School, which Yellen attended as a teen.

Only a few scenes shy of finishing the project, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at age 74 in 2010.

Although the actor’s passing left an emptiness and the film was set aside for a while, Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

Yellen added that even though the goal has been surpassed she encourages people to keep donating because the additional funds will go into releasing the film earlier than anticipated and making it “as good as it possibly can be.”

“We would really like people to support it and be part of the little history we are making,” she said. “Every dollar truly means another person is a fan of Dennis Hopper and this movie.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate, click here.


Fox’s ‘Gotham’ to film in Ridgewood Wednesday night

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo ©2014 Fox Broadcasting Co./Jessica Miglio/FOX

Ridgewood will become part of Gotham City Wednesday night.

Crews from the hit Fox drama “Gotham” are scheduled to shoot an exterior scene along Palmetto Street between Cypress and Seneca avenues from about 5 p.m. Wednesday until 1 a.m. the next morning.

Parking will be restricted on the block and several nearby streets beginning at 8 p.m. Tuesday in order to accommodate production vehicles.

According to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, crews will dim street lights and use smoke and spark effects. Approximately 16 vehicles will also be brought in as part of the scenery.

“Gotham,” which debuted last fall on Fox, serves as a Batman prequel, depicting the rise of soon-to-be Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon prior to Batman’s arrival. It also presents the evolution of various villains such as Oswald Cobblepot (a.k.a. The Penguin).

The show stars Ben McKenzie as then-Detective Gordon; Donal Logue as Gordon’s partner, Det. Harvey Bullock; Robin Lord Taylor as Cobblepot; David Mazouz as young Bruce Wayne, the wealthy orphan who would become Batman; and Jada Pinkett Smith as nightclub owner and mobster Maria Mercedes (a.k.a. Fish) Mooney.

"No parking" notices were posted near Palmetto Street and Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood Tuesday in advance of scheduled filming for the Fox drama "Gotham." (Photo courtesy of Ridgewood Social)

“No parking” notices were posted near Palmetto Street and Seneca avenues in Ridgewood Tuesday in advance of scheduled filming for the Fox drama “Gotham.” (Photo courtesy of Ridgewood Social)

Parking restrictions will also be in effect on the following blocks:

Palmetto Street between Cypress and St. Nicholas avenues;

Gates Avenue (east side only) between Cypress and St. Nicholas avenues; and

Cypress Avenue (south side) between Grove and Madison streets and (north side) between Linden and Madison streets.

This is Ridgewood’s latest foray into Hollywood, as producers from various major television and film shows — such as NBC’s upcoming drama “Odyssey” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” —flocked to the neighborhood in recent months to shoot scenes.


Jackson Heights filmmaker turns to Kickstarter for new flick

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Alex Webb

Actor Alex Webb has gone behind the camera to write, direct and produce award-winning films. Now, he is turning to Kickstarter to get his new film rolling.

The Jackson Heights resident has worked with actors such Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Ben Affleck and has appeared in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Aside from acting, Webb began working on film production with his first picture “The Girl in 2C,” which received a silver medal at WorldFest, an international indie film festival in Houston. His most recent short film “Hove (The Wind)” received the Panavision New Filmmaker Award and was selected for several international film festivals.

“The interesting thing I didn’t realize is that all along I had writing and directing right in my pocket,” Webb said. “I was much happier when those times came to be creative and start creating your own work.”

Webb decided the next step in his production career would be to create a full-length feature and came up with his newest thriller and dark comedy flick called “To The Flame.”

“[I wanted to] try to make a story that is super intriguing, weird and surprising and — on the production end — simple,” Webb said. “Make [a film] that would really lend itself to a micro-budget.”

On May 7, Webb created a 30-day Kickstarter project to help raise $25,000 in funds to make his feature film a reality. The money raised would go toward production equipment and hiring the remaining cast and crew members, as well as helping to keep location and travel needs to a minimum.

“The great thing about Kickstarter is you are raising awareness about your project before even starting it,” Webb said. “You get these people already hooked on the project and you’re getting an audience before it even starts.”

The film, which already has Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis and actor Bob Balaban slotted for cameos, was inspired by the works of directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. It follows two college students, Kyle and Penny, and their interaction with two neighbors, played by Webb and his wife Shirleyann Kaladjian, for a school assignment. The project then takes the students into the couple’s “dark and twisted world,” Webb said.

Shooting for the film is expected to begin in early July, with some scenes possibly shot in Queens, and a release date is slated for late this year or early 2015.

To watch a teaser for “To The Flame” and donate to the Kickstarter, which ends June 6, click here.



Local movie maker brings piece of Jackson Heights to Queens World Film Festival

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy Walk Up Productions

One Jackson Heights filmmaker is keeping a promise and taking it to the big screen.

Producer and Jackson Heights resident Michael Lieber met screenwriter Joseph P. Vasquez in California during the mid-1990s and started to work on a screenplay called “The House That Jack Built,” written by Vasquez.

But before the project was complete, Vasquez, 32, died. Lieber vowed that he would finish the film.

Two years ago, Lieber kept his promise and decided to begin making the film with director Henry Barrial and additional producers Sam Kitt and Hitesh R. Patel.

“It just shows that the most important thing was starting with a good script,” Lieber said. “Unfortunately, the writer died many years ago and he was not able to see the fruition of this film. This is why it took so many years to make, because I wasn’t just going to get it filmed like that.”

Vasquez’s film, which is almost 90 minutes long, follows the life of a young Hispanic man named Jack Maldonado who tries to build a relationship with his family by buying an apartment building and moving them all there. The story then becomes a combination of escalating conflicts with family members and also “turf battles” as Jack deals with competing marijuana dealers.

“When I look back, I’m kind of amazed we were able to achieve this,” he said, referring to the film’s budget, which was less than $150,000.

One third of the movie was filmed in Jackson Heights and the rest was finished in the Bronx.

“The House That Jack Built” has been picked as one of the 127 films showing at the Queens World Film Festival, which began Tuesday. It has also been nominated for Best Narrative Feature in the festival.

“This festival is very different; this is a film lovers’ festival,” Lieber said. “It’s a warm festival. It’s very New York and yet it has an international scope.”

“The House That Jack Built” will be showing at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at P.S. 69, located at 77-02 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights.

“If you want the feel of New York City, Queens is the borough these days,” he said.

To purchase tickets, visit here. For more info on the film, visit here .



Kaufman Astoria Studios extends lease by 99 years

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

File photo

Keep the reels rolling!

Senator Charles Schumer and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney announced the approval of Kaufman Astoria Studios’ 99 year lease term extension under the Historic Surplus Property Program by the National Park Service (NPS). Early this month, Schumer and Maloney requested that NPS approve this application, stating the extension would allow business expansion in the studio by providing long-term investments and make it easier to access the capital Kaufman needs to grow and expand.

“This lease term extension will give Kaufman Astoria Studios the security and predictability it needs to grow, create more jobs and expand its business in Queens,” said Schumer. “This studio is full of history and with New York City’s growing film industry, I am pleased that the National Park Service has said ‘lights, camera, action’ for this new extended lease.”

The legendary studio opened in 1920 and became the home to Paramount Pictures. Stars like Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep and Al Pacino have worked on productions at Kaufman Astoria Studios. Sesame Street is also filmed at the renowned studio. Kaufman Astoria Studios was designated as a National Historic District in 1978.

Its extended lease will end in 2099.

In Spider-Man’s hometown, Queens residents flock to theater

| brennison@queenscourier.com


“The Amazing Spider-Man” swung into theaters at midnight and Queens moviegoers flocked to the film in the character’s hometown.

Lines formed outside the Midway movie theater in Forest Hills — where Spider-Man hails from — to be among the first to see the superhero flick.
“In all the Spidey movies, [Spider-Man] cried too much. This will be different. It looks like ‘The Dark Knight’ in a kind of way,” said Andrew Arevalo, 21, of Corona, as he waited for a 3:40 p.m. showing.

Fans leaving the theater thought the reboot outdid the original.

“It was great, it was the best one,” said Joe Lazauskas, 66.

Forest Hills resident, Daniel L., 30, agreed.

“It was the best ‘Spider-Man.’ [Andrew Garfield] was good and fit the role better than Tobey [Maguire].”

The Hollywood Reporter estimated an opening of at least $125m, which would place it second behind “The Avengers” in 2012.

Overseas, the Marc Webb-directed film is already breaking records overseas, according to reports.

The other Spider-Man films all earned at least $750 million at the box office, with the third installment, which hit theaters just five years ago, earning nearly $900 million.

 -Additional reporting by Philip Hertling & Greg Giaconelli

NYC’s Filming Boom

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Silvercup sign

Bollywood produces the most movies in the world. Hollywood is known as the planet’s entertainment capital. But there is a sleeping giant in the entertainment industry — New York City.

Being the biggest city in the world, New York was the setting of a multitude of shows, but not their home: Seinfeld, Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond all shot 3,000 miles away from where they were located. Even now How I Met Your Mother, Mad Men and CSI: New York film in California.

But within the last decade, there has been a New York renaissance in production not seen in a century.

The television boom over the past 10 years has seen the number of series filmed here more than triple. Twenty-three series filmed in New York City throughout the 2011-12 television season, including, Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife and Law & Order: SVU.

Besides the shows that film in NYC exclusively, more than 100 television shows and movies have used the beautiful backdrop of New York City over the past year and the city revels in a entertainment production revival.

“With our beautiful city, talented workforce and the assistance offered by our ‘Made in NY’ program, New York City has surpassed all previous records for film and television production,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

New York is now becoming a first choice when deciding where to film, according to insiders, and at the center of the record boom is western Queens’ Silvercup Studios and

Kaufman Astoria Studios and Brooklyn’s Steiner Studios.

Kaufman originally opened in 1920 as Astoria Studios, and quickly became the mecca of the silent film era. Upon America’s entrance into World War II, the studio was taken over by the U.S. Signal Corps. and became known as the Army Pictorial Center where armed forces training films were shot.

The building eventually fell into disuse and disrepair until 1977’s production of The Wiz featuring Michael Jackson. It was fully renovated and revived in 1980 after the sale of the lot to George S. Kaufman. Since its rebirth, some of the biggest stars have passed through the studios doors. Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Big Bird have called Kaufman Astoria Studio home, while Glengarry Glen Ross, Scent of a Woman and The Cosby Show were filmed there.

Out of a former flour silo rose the next great NYC studio, Silvercup Studios. The Long Island City studio opened in 1983 and quickly established itself as the largest independent, full-service film and television production facility in the Northeast. It has shot such classics as When Harry Met Sally, The Sopranos and City Hall. Currently, the stars of Gossip Girl, 30 Rock and Person of Interest call it home.
The “largest and most sophisticated studio complex outside of Hollywood,” Steiner Studios opened in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2004. It has played host to Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Angelina Jolie. The studio’s lot has been used by Sex and the City, American Gangster and Spiderman 3.

The shows may use the studios to shoot much of the show, but filming in the city allows them to use it as a backdrop whenever they see fit. And it’s not just a quick exterior establishing shot of NYC, You no longer have to watch a “New York” show like Seinfeld and see the characters walk down the same fake city street in every episode. Instead, you have Alec Baldwin in Rockefeller Center, or Blake Lively in Central Park, or Zach Galifianakis exploring Manhattan, it gives the show an authenticity that is impossible to reproduce on a set.

Seeing the characters outside a pizzeria that you’ve gone into, brings realism to the show. It’s not Central Perk on Friends, it’s New Roma Pizza on How to Make It in America.
New York isn’t resting on its record breaking laurels, either.

“New York City is a television town, and we’re thrilled that we broke records for television production in 2011,” said Office of Media & Entertainment commissioner Katherine Oliver. “The mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment is committed to working hard to make sure that the industry continues to grow and expand in 2012.”
And it’s not just the sheer number of shows being produced, it’s good television. Last year, city productions earned 110 Emmy nominations, winning 23 awards.
It’s exciting to recognize the locales used during the shows, but even more exciting could be recognizing yourself or one of your friends in the background. In 2011, more than 11,000 extras were hired on the television shows shot in the city.

So, with the productions multiplying exponentially, it may be only a matter of time before you find yourself watching yourself on the screen.