You may have heard Connecticut billing itself as Hollywood East. The Office of Film, Television, & Digital Media was established. Armed with tempting tax breaks, the state has been actively trying to woo filmmakers to the area. While all the high expectations have not been met, such as the much-discussed and much-delayed Connecticut Studios in South Windsor, there is plenty of room for hope.
In the greater Hartford area there has been an outpouring of interest in getting involved with filmmaking. Although Southern Connecticut is used to big budget films being made, such as the De Niro/Katherine Heigl project The Wedding currently filming in Greenwich, it has been a rarer commodity in our area. It is always difficult to read tea leaves, but there are a lot of people trying to put the Hartford area on the movie map.
One example happened this past weekend. Local filmmaker Al Signore was shooting scenes for his upcoming sci-fi film, Sensory Perception, which was being filmed in Bloomfield. It took place at LCR Productions, which just installed a new green screen. Saturday’s filming included Hollywood veteran Corbin Bernsen (LA Law, Major League, Psych). As the legal advisor for the film, I had the opportunity to talk to various people on set. There was a whiff of excitement in the air, and it was fun to hear about all the projects people are working on. It became clear that there is a tremendous amount of opportunity right now for others to get involved in film. Sure, lots of people in Connecticut remain skeptical about becoming Hollywood East. What’s undeniable, however, is that there are a ton of talented people right now making some great films.
One group that has been helpful in getting people involved with filmmaking in the area is the Farmington Valley Film Commission. They meet once a month at the Iron Frog in Simsbury. The group attracts people with varying degrees of experience and backgrounds, and is a great way to network with likeminded folks. This past summer they had their second annual film fete, a festival that is open to filmmakers who shoot all or part of their film in the Farmington Valley. Oftentimes artists get trapped in an insular world, so it’s great to bring people together to showcase all the great work people are doing.
At heart I’m an optimist (albeit one who complains a lot), so I’m looking forward to watching the industry grow in this area. I love reading about local filmmakers like Marty Lang, who was just out in California to speak about his film, Rising Star, at a Screenwriters Expo. Every talent needs an outlet, so I’m curious to see what will be created in this area given the right amount of resources. From what I saw this past weekend, we’re taking a step in the right direction.