Marc Reina left Frankfort for the Big Apple years ago and wound up starry-eyed for filmmaking

Marc Reina left Frankfort for the Big Apple years ago and wound up starry-eyed for filmmaking.

But once in a while, he comes back to help support a version of Hollywood in Upstate New York.

“The goal is to have a filmmaking industry begin in the area,” said Reina, who is helping a film team that will be shooting an original short film, “Hedda Needs Help,” in Herkimer County next year. “Yes, there are projects that happen every so often, but I envision an actual market being established locally.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month announced the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development received its 300th application for the state’s post-production tax credit, marking a new milestone since a law supporting that credit was strengthened in July 2012.

“Our efforts to attract world-class film companies and unparalleled talent to New York have been a tremendous success, creating thousands of jobs and new opportunities for communities statewide,” Cuomo said in a news release.

He said by incentivizing film companies to move to the Empire State, New York is becoming a “global hub” for post-production that could generate billions of dollars in economic activity for decades to come.

The 300 project applicants are expected to spend more than $340 million in-state and make more than 3,600 hires statewide. For comparison, only 18 productions applied for the credit in the 18 months before the program was revamped in 2012, resulting in $38 million in New York spending and 224 hires.

During the past year, an independent film, “We the Animals,” filmed in various sites in Utica for about four months.

“’We the Animals’ worked out great,” said Paul Buckley, Utica’s media department commissioner. “They needed housing for about 60 to 70 people. These properties that were sitting empty, not making landlords any money, now people are paying rent, buying food, paying utilities. It all has a ripple effect.”

Buckley said there are a couple movies in pre-production that will be coming to the area next spring and summer. Generally, at least two films have been shot in Utica every year. “We the Animals,” however, has been one of the largest, with a $1 million budget.

“It’ll keep us pretty busy, keep Utica on the map for filmmakers,” Buckley said.

He said he expects more in the industry to choose the Utica-area for filming in the future.

“Once they come and find out what’s going on, realize how readily accessible and agreeable we all are, the word gets around,” Buckley said. “My office and I try to make it as easy as possible. We cut through all the red tape.”

Catania Murabito got her start in theater at Stanley Center for the Arts. Now, she’s working on “Hedda Needs Help” with Reina.

The short film, written by Malin Barr and Lisa Baron, is about an aspiring poet in New York City who gets an opportunity to assist a famous publisher, playing off the idea “what would you do to make it in your industry?”

“What really drew me to this project is just being able to do what I love and to be surrounded by other people enjoying what they are doing also,” Murabito said. “I've always been interested in doing theater work. The first time I got to do that was at the Stanley. I started working for the wig department for the show ‘Bullets over Broadway.’”

For Baron, the idea to create her own projects came from a dream she had growing up in Herkimer County.

"I always wanted to be an actress or a filmmaker when I was in Ilion," she said. "When I moved to NYC, I sort of caught the bug."

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Contributing: Carolyn Bostick, O-D.