There’s been an uptick in those ubiquitous yellow film production signs around the borough lately, a universal scattering of the mysterious markers in notable places from Snug Harbor to Historic Richmondtown and beyond.
And if you binge-watch programs like The Blacklist, Ray Donovan and The Sinner, you’ll undoubtedly see glimpses of Staten Island in the backdrop. But the appearance of our borough as the conceptual fourth wall is no coincidence.
“The Borough President created a ‘Made on Staten Island’ campaign in 2014 to basically throw the doors of Staten Island open to filming productions,” said Jennifer Sammartino, who serves as Deputy Chief of Staff for BP James Oddo. “At that point we had quite a few TV shows and movies to our credit already but nowhere near what we have now. We went from something like 69 productions annually to well over 100 in a span of five years.”
Oddo decided to organize an online hub of participating filming locations after noticing an increasing interest from location scouts.
“There are significant incentives for local businesses and cultural organizations when film production takes place on their property,” Sammartino continued. “The Borough President’s office understands how the permitting process works and knows firsthand how the city handles filming. So we created this site to offer a comprehensive listing of parks, buildings, cultural organizations and homes that are ‘film friendly.’ Not only does it create notability for Staten Island, it helps these centers raise significant revenue as well.”
Titled “Made On Staten Island,” https://www.statenislandusa.com/madeonsi.html the website is an extension of the Borough President’s Staten Island USA homepage and features a current filming schedule as well as a photo portfolio of sites open to film crews. The directory includes parks, beaches, historic buildings and other landmarks and is actively looking for local business owners to list their locations as well.
“There’s always a need for gas stations and funeral homes,” Sammartino explained. “But location scouts also look for very particular qualities in a site so it’s certainly beneficial for store owners to post pictures and descriptions on our page.”
Stores and homeowners are encouraged to submit several pics and a brief description detailing their space. Sammartino says film scouts will contact the owner directly if they’re interested.
“It really is an amazing boost for the community,” she noted. “These filmings showcase our borough in a very positive light and pay handsomely to do so. Non profits and cultural institutions can then put that money into their operating funds and use it any way they see fit.”
Shows already produced here include Gotham, A Crime to Remember, Bull, Orange is the New Black, Law & Order, Madam Secretary, Fosse/Verdon, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Americans.
SNL star and native Staten Islander Pete Davidson filmed a movie here last summer with Judd Apatow and the Impractical Jokers are often spotted taping scenes in their home borough.
“Pouch Camp, Snug Harbor, Mount Loretto and Casa Belvedere have been used several times by the film industry,” Sammartino reported. “It’s amazing how these production crews recreate exactly what they need: We’ve seen them plant fake palm trees and create a Hawaiian Naval Base; one crew made South Richmond High School look exactly like something from 1952.”
And once the writers cross the bridge into Staten Island they seem to fall in love.
“People who haven’t been to this location before are always impressed,” Sammartino concluded. “There have been many times when they arrive and decide to rewrite their script to do more filming here. But that’s the whole purpose of the Made on Staten Island site. To spark more film work and inject even more life into the borough’s economy.”