Film panel Hudson River MuseumWestchester County has become a magnet for productions seeking film-friendly, diverse locations in the NYC film zone. As film professionals search for the ideal place to set their scene, they equally consider collaborative efforts to ensure the smooth operation of film production. 

Westchester County Tourism & Film (WCTF) recently shared steps locals can to take to plan for hosting crews shooting a film, television show, or commercial, at its “Setting the Scene: Film Production in Westchester” event held at the Hudson River Museum on April 16. WCTF inviteda panel of film industry experts and brought together 130+ Westchester hoteliers, municipal film coordinators, and location property managers to learn best practices. 

WCTF Director, Natasha Caputo moderated the panel featuring Location Manager Lauri Pitkus, Producer / Production Manager Demian Resnick, and City of Yonkers Office of Film & Photography Director, Melissa Velez-Goldberg. The experts discussed the role of location scouts in the industry, the impact of technology on film, and how to attract and service the film business locally.

Here are the panel’s top recommendations on becoming film-friendly:

  • Communicate clearly: Clarity is key, Pitkus said. “Film productions need to know the rules upfront — what permits are needed, where filming is restricted, what the regulations are. This saves everyone time and frustration. Knowing what you can and can't do is essential.” 

    Resnick suggested establishing a point of contact early on. "As much as the artistic needs of productions drive what we do, they have Lauri Pitkis speaks on panelto be done on a budget, according to schedules, and within logistical parameters. So, we ask a lot of questions. We don’t need you to say yes to every request, but we want to feel confident investing the time, energy, and money into setting up a shoot at a particular place.” 
  • Be flexible: “Nothing goes according to plan on a film production,” Goldberg said. “There may be location or creative changes or unexpected challenges, so being able to adapt goes a long way in retaining film business.”

    Thinking outside the box is important if you want to be in film, Resnick explained. “Be open to a bit of back and forth. Every show is different in terms of the needs, size, and scope.”
  • Consider sustainability: Promote locations with eco-friendly options. “Our industry is environmentally conscious,” Resnick said. “We try to donate leftover food at the end of the day. We don’t buy plastic water bottles. We try to find centralized parking with car charging stations so we use less fuel and reduce carbon emissions.”

    Film production is becoming greener, so market locations that reflect those values to the industry.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders: Goldberg attributes much of the success Yonkers has had with film production to having established relationships with key officials across the city to facilitate fast decision making and problem solving. “Whether location professionals need information about parks, police, or water, they know that I can work with those departments to see the process through.” 

    Prove your location is film-friendly by engaging local businesses and residents in the process, Resnick pointed out. “We need a lot: food, facilities, trash haulers, support services. We need to know, what pizza place is open until two in the morning? Who can we work with to find the support we need? Centralizing this information is helpful.”

    Keep the community informed about film activity to reduce friction, added Pitkus. “We work hand-in-hand with locations to address concerns and facilitate positive interactions [with the community]. We’ll knock on doors in advance of filming to meet people face-to-face so they’re not surprised when we show up.”

After the panel, Natasha Caputo shared that WCTF is available to the community as a supportive resource. “If you are a property within a municipality, let your township know you are film-friendly. Let our office know. We are here to market Westchester’s many assets to the industry and to support your efforts in attracting and serving productions.”


7 Ways to Be a Film-Friendly Location in Westchester

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