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County Launches Film Advisory Board

Goal is to increase filmmaking production in Nassau

“You ought to be in pictures.” That’s the sentiment that Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has about Nassau County. Specifically, he would like Nassau to be used more frequently as a location for film, television and commercial productions. To accomplish this, his administration and the Nassau County Film Commission have created the Nassau County Film Advisory Board, which is comprised of members with much experience in various media formats in order to promote the film industry in Nassau and to attract film productions here. The board had its first meeting on Feb. 14.

Nassau is already a popular destination for the filming of movies and television shows. The movies, SALT and Man on a Ledge were both largely shot in Nassau County as were some of the scenes from The Good Shepherd. In addition USA’s Royal Pains and Fox’s Running Wilde are filmed around Nassau as are scenes from movies and television shows including The Good Wife, Unforgettable, Person of Interest, the Smurfs Movie, Arthur, White Collar, Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Wall Street II, Win-Win, Rescue Me, and Dark Horse. Mangano is looking to further expand Nassau’s presence in the filmmaking industry.

“We want to promote this industry,” Mangano said to the board members at their first gathering. “We want to build this industry and we need your help and expertise. We want to get their business because it helps our economy and helps us grow.”

Mangano, who is from Bethpage, spoke of how Grumman once made Long Island the center of the aircraft industry. With the building of studios on the Grumman site in Bethpage, Mangano is hoping that Nassau can rise to a similar level of prominence in the film industry.

“I’m looking for a new creative way to revitalize that property,” said Mangano. He added that the film industry has the potential to create many jobs here on Long Island, both in industry positions and in non-industry positions such as craftspeople. The County Executive further said that when film companies make productions on Long Island, money is spent in Nassau, which helps the county’s economy. He said that he would support the board’s efforts with grant money.

“We need to bring it to the next level,” Mangano said of the film’s industry’s presence in Nassau.

At the initial board meeting, members discussed some of the attributes that Nassau County has to offer filmmakers. In addition to the studios in Bethpage, Nassau County has a wide array of locations that could be used as settings for movies, television shows and commercials. In addition, the members discussed how the county’s close proximity to New York City offers another benefit to filmmakers.

“I’m so pleased to be on this board to show the film industry all that Long Island, and particularly, Nassau County has to offer,” said Angela Susan Anton, publisher of the Anton Community Newspapers and a board member. “We hope to bring more film production to the area which will promote job growth and help our economy.”

Director of the Nassau County Film Office, Debra Markowitz, is hoping that the increased promotion of Nassau’s film industry will increase the significant economic impact that film production has on the county’s economy. According to Mangano’s office, 30+ movies and television shows resulted in $90 million being spent in the local economy, as well as producing revenue for the County.

“(Nassau) It’s a hub for filming, television and commercial work but of course you always want more,” said Markowitz “In these economic times you want to grow it. You want people to film here. You want the companies to spend their money here.”

At the board meeting, members discussed how many businesses, including those not in the film industry, can benefit from increased film production in the area. For example, delicatessens and caterers could benefit from the food spreads that are traditionally offered at film shoots. Restaurants and hotels also would be expected to have increased business from local film production.

“We’re trying to bring more business to Nassau County,” said Parviz Farahzad, president of Grumman Studios and a member of the new board. “We’re trying to make more films here. It’s good for business and it’s good for everyone.”

Studio representatives and filmmakers based here in Nassau also lauded the creation of the board as a means of getting themselves more business. Local industry members are hoping that more productions will be made here.

“We’re trying to grow the film industry,” said Lyndsey Lostritto, vice-president of business development with Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage. “It brings jobs and economic development. It brings a lot of opportunities.”

In addition to big feature productions, the board is also hoping to bring smaller work as well such as commercials to Nassau. With New York City being the largest market for advertisers, it is hoped that Nassau will become a more popular destination for shooting commercials.

“I’m very impressed how encouraging the County Executive is in support of the Hollywood $100 million films and the small independent films,” said Fred Carpenter, a board member and an independent producer who shoots his films on Long Island.

At that initial meeting, potential detriments for filmmakers were also discussed with traffic being considered an issue. One member suggested that the use of helicopters could be a solution to transport personnel between Manhattan and Nassau in a matter of minutes. Getting industry executives to take a friendlier attitude toward New York was mentioned as another hurdle to overcome as some industry insiders prefer other geographical locations and are unwilling to travel to the area.

The advisory board is comprised of many people with extensive experience in the industry including directors, producers, writers and entertainment executives. Markowitz said that she has worked with some of these people for many years and is confident that the members have the knowledge and experience to grow the film industry in Nassau.

“We want the people who might have ideas,” said Markowitz of the board members. “They’ve been here so they know what’s needed, they know how to attract people.”