The first time film production moved away from New York City, it created Hollywood. Today, not everyone knows much about early film history. So it may seem surprising to learn that when the movies were in their infancy, the New York / New Jersey area was the place to be. Currently unglamorous locations like Fort Lee, New Jersey, were the sites of high-profile projects with A-list celebrities. Considering Thomas Edison’s role in early film, and his labs’ locations in New Jersey, this success should not be surprising. Many of the quintessential early silent films were proudly made in New York and New Jersey. However, the fickle star system inevitably pushed westward, to then-cheaper Los Angeles and its landscapes that were ready to transform into almost any different landscape.
For nearly a century now, Hollywood has dominated filmmaking, with a great deal of action still occurring in New York. Iconic scenes from beloved movies have been filmed all over Manhattan, including Taxi Driver, When Harry Met Sally, Manhattan itself, The Godfather, and Trading Places, to name only a few. Yet these films are all iconic because of their Manhattan settings. It has become infuriatingly common for commuters to have to dodge shoots and sometimes even argue with film crew just to get into their own buildings. Manhattan’s residents are souring on location filming, and film producers are tiring of the hassles involved in these shoots as well.
Therefore, film production is moving away from Manhattan once again. Yet this time, it is a much shorter move: Film and TV production is moving into Brooklyn and Queens. With the lower prices, opportunities for location shooting, and, of course, warehouses, these boroughs are especially tantalizing compared to Manhattan. Considering how few people can afford to live in Manhattan these days, a location in the boroughs will likely be a positive move for the professionals who must commute to the set. For the small army of gaffers, grips, production assistants, assistants, and even actors who make movies, shooting in Brooklyn or Queens could mean a shorter commute.
You may be scratching your head, trying to think of cinematic classics that occur in warehouses. Here’s a list of movies filmed in warehouses to help you with this bit of movie trivia! But the point is not that there has been a recent spate of movies set in warehouses, but instead that borough-based warehouses offer incredible opportunities for filmmakers.
Manhattan is a place that can be filled with frustration for filmmakers. Consider the high costs of location, exterior filmmaking in Manhattan (e.g., permits, parking, and more), the transportation snarls, the endless tourists, and the cynical neighbors. Even indoor filming is astronomically expensive, given the rental costs and the likely need to rig lights or microphones. Despite the city’s generous film subsidies, these productions are still very expensive and are generally logistical nightmares. Yet many assume that the only alternative is working in Los Angeles.
There is a third option. Imagine doing a scene on-set in the morning, and returning after lunch to do looping and watch rushes in the very same building. No enormous noise, no worries about the weather, no eye-popping permit costs, and no locals screaming invective as you film. The conveniences of the early Hollywood studio system, where everything was located in one place, can be the provenance of the New York-based filmmaker who is savvy enough to use a warehouse in the boroughs.
After all, the four major studios in New York (Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silvercup Studios, Broadway Stages and Steiner Studios) are all based in Queens or Brooklyn. Perhaps this is due to economic necessity, or perhaps it is due to these companies having been savvy. Either way, it is clear that just as virtually every other source of art and culture has been priced or annoyed out of Manhattan, so too has the film industry.
The portfolio of projects recently filmed at One Stop Spaces’ various warehouses will impress you. More than a few of the shows you already love were created in these spaces. Specifically, these hits include The Americans, Law & Order SVU, Madam Secretary, Zero Hour, Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, and many more. Perhaps the next big hit to emerge from One Stop Spaces will be your own.
Film and television producers who take advantage of these opportunities will enjoy customizable space that they might have only dreamed of in Manhattan and even Los Angeles.
A warehouse need not only be a warehouse. Sometimes it might be hard to imagine what a warehouse can do simply because it is the spatial equivalent of a blank canvas. For enterprising filmmakers, it can be almost any part of the filmmaking process. It can be a sound stage. It can be a storage place for valuable costumes or props, and a space for hair/makeup. It can be a home base for offices, or a space to set up people working in post to add the “movie magic” that audiences crave.
Instead of generating buzz by annoying Manhattanites on their way to and from work or home, and contributing to the endless gridlock, a warehouse can offer the best of many worlds. Warehouses still exist in Manhattan, to be sure, but the cost of renting, buying, or leasing one is likely to be far beyond the budget of even large production companies. Moreover, the extremely recognizable Manhattan aesthetic can become a liability for shots supposed to occur elsewhere. The borough’s overall density can make shooting very difficult, even in a lot.
Options in Queens or Brooklyn may provide a refreshing alternative. Less densely populated areas are easier to control during outdoor shoots, and the outer boroughs themselves are becoming as recognizable as New York City. With just as many high-quality restaurants, parks, and transit options as in Manhattan, these boroughs are still exciting places to work.
Even better, a warehouse can easily be modularized and tailored to the needs of any company or even a specific production. Whether it’s a low-budget mumblecore film with modest needs, an animated film relying on big teams of voice artists, character modelers, and even CGI, or a high-profile superhero work requiring green screens and multiple teams working on special effects, a warehouse is sure meet the production’s needs from the pitch to the premiere and beyond.
The only limits to a warehouse’s use are the limits of the imagination. What a warehouse really offers is something that exists as a very scarce commodity in New York: space. Even better, a warehouse is a space that can take on almost any challenge.
There are many reasons that film production is fleeing Manhattan. But one of the biggest is the opportunities reflected in One Stop Spaces’ portfolio of spaces. Your location scouts may hate you for it, but One Stop Spaces really is all you need – no in-depth scouting is necessary.
One Stop Spaces is ready to be your one-stop space. With the variety of available properties for rent, there is sure to be one for your needs. Let go of Manhattan and get your project rolling.