When Community Meets Production

 

Lens

There’s a lot of attention currently surrounding the “local” food movement.  When you get your produce from a neighborhood farmer, you connect on a face-to-face basis. You know where the ingredients of your next meal are coming from and you form a relationship with the people providing them.

It’s not that different with film production. An article by the New York Times looks at the relationship between the Bronx recent resurgence in film and TV production and the local community.  With recent productions such as “Gotham,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Marvel’s Daredevil,” the Bronx has become the latest frontier for original programming in the city’s film and television industry.

 

According to the article, film and television production has already provided a boon to the city’s economy. The show “Gotham,” the Fox series chronicling Batman in his early years, and produced by Warner Bros, is a great example. After completing 22 episodes in its first season, production employed a cast and crew of about 275 people a week, and hired another 2,458 actors as extras, with a total New York payroll of $31 million.  The show spent another $24.8 million with local businesses. All of the episodes were produced in New York.

Cynthia López, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, describes production on the site as a positive stating, “We see there is a serious infusion of resources into the neighborhood, the community.”

The symbiosis of television and film’s stories and characters with the scenery of their production is a critical element in connecting with their intended audiences.  How often are you sitting watching something and you ask, “Wow, I wonder where they shot this!”  Think of the car chase scene in Blues Brothers or Baltimore’s presence in The Wire.  

Last month Chicago Studios hosted the Cinefest Backlot Block Party, celebrating famous movies and tv shows produced locally.  At Chicago’s CineSpace Studios, one of the largest film and television studios outside of Hollywood, attendees browsed exhibits and saw iconic props like the Blues Brother car, the Model T from The Untouchables, and video equipment from the show Empire. Proceeds from the event benefitted the CineCares Foundation, whose mission is to decrease violence in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood by providing educational opportunities to children. The progress in New York City and Chicago’s celebration shows that the film industry is so much more than glamorous celebrities and prestigious directors – it’s about the humble lives of ordinary people beyond the lens.

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