Is a CNY film hub a good idea?

— Many Central New York residents were surprised and optimistic to hear Gov. Cuomo’s announcement earlier this month about a high-tech movie making/ nanotechnology hub that will be located in DeWitt.

One of those residents was Owen Shapiro, the coordinator of the film program and a professor in Syracuse University’s school of visual performing arts and the co-founder and artistic director of the Syracuse International Film Festival. Shapiro said he was “shocked” to hear the news and thinks the Syracuse area can only benefit from this new kind of economy.

“We’ve lost a lot of economic engines here over the last 25 to 30 years, and high technology and film has a tremendous potential to create new economic engines up here,” he said. “As an entertainment and artistic medium, film is never going to go away. It’s an industry that’s not disappearing tomorrow and it’s not going to be sent overseas. So why shouldn’t we have a part in this?”

Part of Cuomo’s announcement was the news that the film hub already has a tenant signed on to make movies in Syracuse. Ryan Johnson, the president of The Film House, a film production company from Los Angeles, said he’ll be moving his company here in part because of the savings from New York state’s tax break package, which offers tax credits for film production.

However, Larry Elin, a television/radio/film professor in S.U.’s Newhouse School, is not so sure if the plan will benefit the area at all. He believes that until the Syracuse area gets a top-of-the-line, high speed internet broadband connection like Google Fiber, it will be impossible to do the post-production work that The Film House hopes to accomplish.

“It’s necessary because digital filmmaking involves the creation of enormous digital files,” Elin said. “And when you consider that there are 30 of them per second of motion and that those files need to be sent from wherever the production is taking place to the post-production facility, the broadband connection is absolutely essential. It doesn’t matter how many producers they bring to the film hub – they’re not going to be able to do the work.”

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