Gotham’s filmmakers mull future of prod’n

Memo focuses on recovery, emphasizes cooperation

In an ad hoc gathering held late Thursday in Gotham, key members of the New York film community met to discuss the future of film, television and commercial production in the tri-state area, concluding that keeping production in New York — and the U.S. — ought to be the No. 1 item on the agenda.

Separately, Larry Loewinger of Soho Audio in lower Manhattan distributed a memo to a wide range of below-the-liners in Gotham, focusing on recovery efforts for the biz and emphasizing the need for cooperation.

The Thursday meeting was organized by Bob Bailin, CEO of lighting and grip shingle Feature Systems. Attendees included reps from all of the Gotham IATSE unions; producers; Pat Scott of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting; Pat Kaufman of the New York governor’s film office; Matt Miller of the Assn. of Independent Producers; and reps from Kaufman Astoria Studios and Silver Cup Studios.

“We discussed the need to keep production in America,” said Bailin, “and getting the word out that it’s safe to be here now, or at least as safe as anywhere else.”

Bailin said attendees were encouraged by the fact that companies were afraid to send crews overseas to shoot in case of reprisals following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the East Coast. He said that bodes well for keeping production in Gotham.

“This whole tragedy is going to make corporate America look inside itself and ask why we are giving business away overseas,” Miller added.

He praised Scott of the mayor’s film and TV office, which began issuing film permits again on Sept. 19. “If within one week we are up and running, that’s just incredible,” Miller said

Loewinger’s view was more pessimistic. “Even before the attack on the World Trade Center, there was a slowdown in film and video production due to the flight of work abroad and a weakening economy,” he wrote. “Make no mistake, for the immediate future the prospects for film and video production in New York City are in grave peril.”

Loewinger suggested exploring financial aid from the city, state and federal governments, as well as working with the mayor’s office to examine the changed logistics of filming in Gotham.

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