Some of the film industry's biggest producers and stars are not far from Buffalo this week, attending the Toronto International Film Festival. Some of them are being urged to check out this side of the border for their next project.
Staff from the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission were in Toronto over the weekend to make a direct pitch to film producers, encouraging them to visit Western New York and explore the region's potential locations.
"This attracts filmmakers from around the world," said Film Commissioner Tim Clark about Toronto's event, which began last Thursday and continues through Sunday. "The word has hit the streets in Hollywood and beyond that Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and Lockport and all the areas of Western New York are really cinematically a great place to shoot. We're jus up here reinforcing that."
Buildings in Buffalo and Niagara Falls proved to be ideal for the forthcoming movie "Marshall," which was shot in Western New York earlier this year. One of that film's stars, Chadwick Boseman, performs in another movie that is part of the schedule this week in Toronto.
Clark says he ran into Boseman on Thursday, the festival's opening night, and told WBFO the actor remembers Buffalo fondly. Word-of-mouth travels in the film business and such word, Clark says, can make or break a region's ability to attract film productions.
Also part of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission's pitch to producers is New York State's film tax credit, which provides incentives to filmmakers who choose to shoot their movies in Upstate New York.
"Very often, filmmakers don't make a decision based on the creative look of a place. They really base it on a spreadsheet," Clark said. "If they can make it work financially and then also make it work creatively, it's a real recipe for success."
Another selling point, Clark noted, was Buffalo's ability to serve as a comfortable, temporary home-away-from-home for many film crew who have to live up to several months at a location as part of the production process.
Buffalo has proven to become a cherished place to make movies by at least one filmmaker. Fred Olen Rey, for example, has shot multiple movies in Western New York, ranging from Christmas-themed stories to suspense thrillers. Clark and the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission hope they may convince some of those hanging out in Toronto for the next few days to become the next repeat customers.
"Hopefully we're doing the right things, keeping the people happy and keeping them coming back," Clark said.