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Lights, Camera, Syracuse

Though you may not have seen it, Syracuse looks great on film.

So says local independent filmmaker Ryan Dacko, who has discovered in Syracuse a place that's primed for filmmaking. "To actually see it up on the screen is something different," he said. "It's something you don't get to see every day."

Syracuse's independent film community has embraced the city as a perfect location for creating and showing their work. Moviegoers can soon begin to cast ballots for the B-Movie Hall of Fame, while filmmakers are arranging film shoots for future contenders. And Dacko is nearing the midpoint of a trek that has him running from Syracuse to Hollywood, to present his case: Why Hollywood should come to Syracuse.

On-location shooting in Syracuse is a cinch, with everything from city streets to open fields all within arm's reach. Costs are low, as Syracuse doesn't require permits for most local shoots, unlike many major cities. And, needless to say, it's easier to make connections in a smaller city.

"I think people want to feel good about the city they live in, especially in Syracuse," Dacko said. He shot half of his first feature film "And I Lived" in Syracuse in 2005.

"A lot of people," Dacko said, "thought that some of those scenes in Armory Square were down in Manhattan."

Dacko is currently running across the country in hopes of landing a meeting with a big-name producer to pitch a three-movie deal for production in Syracuse. He is documenting the journey, dubbed "Plan 9 from Syracuse," referencing a cult classic by infamous B-movie director Ed Wood.

"I'm so confident that I can make a movie out of Syracuse that will rival movies that come out of New York and L.A.," Dacko said. He believes the plan could attract outside filmmakers to Syracuse and, in turn, create more jobs and boost tourism.

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