This week, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer joined us here in Orange County to help make an exciting announcement – the Hoboken International Film Festival will be coming to Middletown’s Paramount Theatre for 2013. Bringing one of the 10 biggest film festivals in the world to Orange County was an example of collaboration at its best - when we work together, great things can happen. Congratulations to Mayor Joseph DeStefano and his team, especially Economic Development Director Maria Bruni, for recognizing an opportunity and acting quickly to bring it to fruition. We appreciate the support and commitment from Senator Schumer who extolled the virtues of the Paramount, the City of Middletown, Orange County, and the mid-Hudson region to Festival chairman Judge Kenneth Del Vecchio when he heard the Festival was looking for a new home.
If you’ve never been to the Paramount, or haven’t been there in years, be sure to check it out – it’s a real jewel. Not only is it a large and beautiful theatre, it is now equipped with state of the art digital projection equipment thanks to the Orange County Industrial Development Agency (IDA). Recognizing the theatre’s potential for economic development and job creation by promoting tourism and the arts, the IDA provided $150,000 in funding for the new projection equipment. Clearly, this investment was a smart one as the availability of this equipment was instrumental in attracting the Hoboken International Film Festival, which is expected to draw 15,000 people when it comes to town in June.
Orange County has a long history with the film industry. Cuddebackville, in western Orange County, was a favorite spot for location filming in the early 1900s. Film pioneer D.W. Griffith, considered by some to be one of the most important figures in early cinema, brought his film company to Cuddebackville on six separate occasions. The area’s unspoiled natural beauty was used as the backdrop for western films, historical dramas, and even comedies. Griffith was said to like Cuddebackville because it had everything he needed for his movies – varied scenery, lodging options, and easy accessibility by train from New York City.
Since Griffith’s day, many other filmmakers have recognized the benefits of filming in Orange County. Writer, producer, and director Tony Gilroy brought actor George Clooney to Orange County to film the blockbuster hit Michael Clayton. One notable scene features an explosion below the scenic Moodna Viaduct train trestle in Cornwall.
Carrying on the tradition of film in Orange County, the Orange County Arts Council recently launched the Orange County NY Film Office to encourage filmmakers to come to Orange County. Through the Film Office, they hope to increase the positive economic impact the film industry has on our County and provide coordination and leadership while serving as the liaison between the film industry, municipalities, and local services and businesses.
As D.W. Griffith found out more than 100 years ago, Orange County offers an abundance of opportunity to filmmakers, including proximity to New York City, access to transportation, beautiful locations, sound stages and production expertise, and best of all, municipalities that want to work with them. To learn more about why we think Orange County is the friendliest place to film in all of New York, contact OC Arts Council Executive Director at 469-9168 or "like" the Film Office on Facebook at Orange County NY Film Office.
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.