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Apr 19, 2011 2:47 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Town Seeks To Brand East Hampton As Film Location

Apr 19, 2011 6:08 PM

The scenery is here. The studio is here. The talent is here. Now, some say, it’s just a matter of rolling out the red carpet for producers, directors and photographers.

A team of media insiders and East Hampton Town officials are working behind the scenes to foster a film and photography industry here, with the aim of parlaying the region’s aesthetics, reputation and creative talent into a wellspring of jobs.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, who is involved in the effort, credited Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson with conceiving of the East Hampton Media Advisory Committee, which convened about a year ago and is tasked with making the town a destination for film and photo shoots, as well as editing and post-production.

“We realized that to bring the town into a place that was fiscally sound, not only did we have to focus on getting the budget under control, but we had to focus on ways to bring jobs into town,” said Ms. Quigley. The idea behind targeting media companies, she said, is that they have a relatively light impact on the environment.

The committee is working on a website, filmthehamptons.org, that is meant to showcase the region’s resources for producers and photographers. The town has also streamlined the permitting process for shooting here and is exploring a local tax incentive for film production.

Meanwhile, filming permits issued by the town have doubled, according to Michael Wudyka, the owner of East Hampton Studio in Wainscott.

“The goals are to bring awareness and bring business out to the East Hampton area,” said Mr. Wudyka, who chairs the 11-member committee. “And we’ve surrounded ourselves with the best people in the industry. The Hamptons are open for business.”

The team is also working with East Hampton High School, Ms. Quigley said, to recruit student photographers to capture promotional images of spots that might be known only to locals.

“This is about East Hampton,” Ms. Quigley said. “And we’re kind of trying to encourage business and opportunities in East Hampton.”

The committee is setting its sights on independent projects early on due to the complexities involved with film and television unions and guilds, which are tied to large productions.

East Hampton is hardly starting from scratch, having historically been a draw for film, television and print shoots for its 
scenery. Also, when it comes 
to print, more than a few photographers summer here and prefer to work close to home if they can.

Just last week, ABC took some establishing shots of a private house in East Hampton for a television pilot called “Revenge,” according to Jenny Landey, a location scout and founding member of the committee. The network was looking for a very specific kind of home, she said, and couldn’t find it where they were shooting in North Carolina.

Although producers are now likely to bring their own talent with them to locations, the committee’s goal is for there to be a local pool of key grips, hairdressers, lighting designers, carpenters and other support staff. These locals will eventually be compiled in a directory on the committee’s website, members said.

And productions don’t just produce jobs within the industry, Ms. Quigley said. They pack out motels and draw on caterers and lumberyards. A seven-day shoot last summer in Eddie Ecker Park in Montauk generated more than $100,000 in revenue for local businesses not directly related to the production, she said.

Cesar Vera, a photographer who pushed for the committee’s creation, said the diversity of sights in East Hampton—and its proximity to New 
York City—make it an attractive location. Filmmakers and photographers can shoot at “sleek modern houses,” he said, as well as “rural country settings” and, of course, windblown beaches.

“The light is beautiful, because there’s no obstruction of light in terms of mountains and things like that,” Mr. Vera said. In the same vein, Mr. Wudyka noted, “We can look like a New England town if we choose to.”

Ms. Landey highlighted the point. “There really is incredible location diversity here,” 
she said. “I get calls from producers and location 
managers looking to find locations to feel like Scotland, and I steer them for the bluffs in Montauk.”

At this stage, Ms. Quigley said, another of East Hampton’s resources is playing a key role: some of the creative people who are drawn to live here and serve on the committee.

“All of them have put so much time and talent into this group, and this is part of the attraction of being in East Hampton,” she said. “There are so many people with so many talents that we as a town should be able to figure out how to bring everybody together and use those talents in a big way.”

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What a bunch of nonsense. The people in the industry come here to get away from it. East Hampton wants the town filled with techies, film crews and entourages taking up all of the hotel rooms during the season and parking their RVs all over as much as they want a Walmart. The TV studio can't even keep the local TV stations interested - they all moved to Southampton Town! Gone are the days where Paul McCartney just shows up at the Talkhouse, you can't get a permit for an outdoor concert -- East ...more
By firecat911 (8), Hampton Bays on Apr 20, 11 3:12 PM
2 members liked this comment
And people are up in arms over a 2 day concert...geesh
By trublnocknatmydr (35), East Hampton on Apr 20, 11 8:27 PM
I grew up in East Hampton. I now live in Sag Harbor. Hopefully Sag Harbor will NEVER turn into the cesspool that is East Hampton. I'm pretty sure Ralph Lauren will soon open a church so that we can all pray to him...... I was in E.H. a few days ago....... Anyone remember Whimseys or Victorias mother......the cheese shop. Wow times they are a changin ...... And I understand things change but all charm has been stripped away from that town......So let the film crews and all the obnoxious garbage that ...more
By Biba (566), East Hampton on Apr 21, 11 10:29 AM
Quigley thinks this is her idea. Filming has been going on in East Hampton for years but they want more. These people do not hire local people. They bring their own people. And the celebrities come here for peace and quiet. These people are going to ruin the town so all of us will have to move.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Apr 22, 11 12:25 AM