Think of independent cinema and it's impossible not to think of New York City, which houses not just key production and distribution entities, but also any number of location shoots for projects outside the umbrella of the major studios. There's free scouting permits, free parking and free police assistance, plus robust tax incentives and rebates.
And as of earlier this month, it now also sports a reconfigured Cinetic Media -- which is hoping to become more than just a storied film sales agency, but rather, with the addition of CAA agent Bart Walker, a one-stop shop for its clients' projects, from development to distributor sale. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of New York's indie scene.
"Certainly a lot of low-budget stuff is thriving, no question," says Michelle Byrd, executive director of the not-for-profit Independent Feature Project, whose 29th annual IFM Market began yesterday. But with production thriving at never-before-seen levels -- the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting reports that last year it issued some 34,718 shooting permits -- indie and low-budget filmmakers around the city are broadening their geographical horizons. Thanks to a flurry of directors, producers and actors living and congregating in trendy Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx cafes over the past few years, the creative center of New York's indie scene is shifting, too. Veteran producer Anthony Bregman of Likely Story recently wrapped "Synecdoche, New York," written and directed by Charlie Kaufman and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Bregman says he was looking for that authentic New York look, shooting at locations like Manhattan's Bedford-Stuyvesant armory -- but he also managed to have Brooklyn double for Germany, and Queens stand in for Schenectady.