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County attracts film talent

Twenty-five years ago Dave Steck defined the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. If you recall armies of youths sporting spiked hairdos around Tompkins Square, “That was me,” he said. “The Lower East Side crowd dressed in black has grown up.”

Now 47, Steck, his wife and daughter, live in Yonkers. He rented an office April 1 for his company Numeric Pictures at 28 Wells St.

“We were strictly city people,” he said. “I could never imagine leaving the 212 area code. Now I live five to 10 minutes from my office, not even enough time to make a call on the way.”

Steck is not alone in the migration. “My neighbor is the producer of a major TV show,” he said. “Another is a big Broadway guy; another is with the New York City Opera; and another is a very big movie producer in the neighborhood. Yonkers offers proximity to New York City, but you can escape New York City. The cost of living is cheaper and the parking is easier. There is a like-minded group of people up here already, or when they come they say, ‘I should get an office up here.’ Right now I am looking out my window at the Hudson River and the Palisades; I could never afford this in Manhattan.”

The trajectory of Cortlandt’s Alchemy Post Sound and its coming move and Foley-stage studio construction in Peekskill is intracounty, but is riding the same celluloid wave.

Andrea Bloome in her new Peekskill space.
Andrea Bloome in her new Peekskill space.

Husband/wife team Leslie and Andrea Bloome for the past 18 months have run a Foley studio in Cortlandt, where they also live with their two children. Andrea called the current space “too small” and the company’s new space of 3,500 square feet in the renovated Hat Factory on Division Street “perfect.”

Foley work is the art of adding sound to movies. “When they shoot a movie, they have to replace just about everything,” Andrea Bloome said. “It is highly nuanced. For heels clicking on a sidewalk, you need the right heels and the right surface. We could probably find the sound of a particular car door closing, but it would not have the sound of the hand engaging the handle.” For breaking bones, wet shammies wrapped around celery stalks and crushed “make a visceral squishy sound,” she said. “We use microwave oven doors, dishes, match books … It’s a performance art.”

Alchemy Post Sound has benefits from a 2012, 30 percent tax credit on post-production work in New York state. Its work on feature films like “The Place Beyond the Pines” and shows like cable’s “Nurse Jackie” continue apace in part at least because of it. Previously, only filming received the credit.

“It began last year,” Andrea said of the credit. “But it really got traction this year. It’s made a big impact.We’re busy and others are busy. We’re getting overflow work from other studios. It’s a growth industry at a time when there are not a lot of growth industries. The tax credit means keeping post-production work here. People are bringing shows here and now I feel like they are keeping the business here instead of shipping it back to L.A.”

The Foley stage – now swept clean – will open for business in August.

Steck’s punk roots found fertile soil in corporate America. “We are a creative product company in that we do all the creative concept and scripting of a project and then we can take that project in-house through post-production and on to delivery.” His clients include Fortune 100 companies and boutique startups. He employs by specific projects, which could mean hiring staff to run a local trade show or hiring 300 to produce a year-long project. “Even when I had a Manhattan office, I’d rent bigger offices wherever they were needed depending on the project.” Among his odder achievements was to help Pringles in October 2010 assemble the world’s largest number of potato chip-can drummers in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Other clients include Procter & Gamble, Boar’s Head and Oracle.

Government assistance has been critical to both Steck’s and Bloome’s enterprises. Steck said if he calls the city of Yonkers, the city responds immediately. He has organized a film festival for the city to air in October: YoFi.

Bloome cited the city of Peekskill, state Sen. Greg Ball’s office and county efforts. “Everyone I talked to has been helpful,” she said. “Their support led to funding and that’s what really counts.” Both Steck and Bloome cited the specific help of Natasha Caputo, the county’s director of tourism and film and state film efforts spearheaded by Jerry Stoeffhaas in Manhattan.

“The combination of Westchester bordering New York City and its partnership approach with the state and the film industry have spurred an increase of interest and film activity, raising our profile as a natural choice to top productions and leaders in the film business,” Caputo said.

“The Westchester County Tourism and Film Office under the leadership of County Executive Robert P. Astorino is experiencing 60 percent growth from movies, episodic television series, commercials, photo shoots and music videos,” Caputo said.  In 2012 her agency fielded some 400 inquiries.


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