New York City is the Great Studio ( III )
In the summer of 1966, the Mayor of the City of New York John V. Lindsay established the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (then, Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment)–the first agency of its kind in the world.
In this story you will get to know more about this industry in New York, and enjoy an fantastic conversation with Martin Scorsese, American director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and film historian whose career spans more than 45 years. Mr. Scorsese was born November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City.
New York City, the Great Studio ( I )
In these five decades, the Mayor's Office has helped spark an extraordinary renaissance in motion picture and television production in New York, giving rise in turn to on of the most successful and significant industries in the city, today employing one-hundred and four thousand New Yorkers and representing nearly nine billion dollars a year to the local economy, according to an independent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in October 2015.
According to BCG’s report, New York City is one of only three cities in the world with a filming community large enough to enable a production to be made without needing any roles to be brought in from other locations, including cast, crew members, and the creative team. Additionally, a rich real-life history, iconic locations, diverse storytellers and top talent are among the reasons productions choose to film in New York City.
"By citing the enormous local contribution of the media and entertainment industry, BCG’s report confirms – definitively and independently – what we’ve always known: NYC is the creative capital of the world," said Cynthia Lopez, former Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
"Film and television production is a glamorous business, associated in the public mind with world-famous stars, directors, and other celebrities. But it is also a genuine industry, whose majority of jobs are filled with lesser-known dedicated craftsmen and technicians, including camera operators, electricians, sound engineers, editors, art directors, makeup and wardrobe artists, location scouts, carpenters, grips, drivers, and background talent–to name just a few of the literally hundreds of different occupations needed to produce feature films and television," says Julie Menin, New York City film czar.
New York gathers an extraordinary inventory of locations to be found around the five boroughs. Also, the astonishing commitment, talent, and dedication that generations of moviemakers have demonstrated as they transformed the city of New York into one of the world's most compelling cinematic settings.
On this conversation with Martin Scorsese, you will get to know one of the most talented New Yorkers, American director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and film historian, whose career spans more than 55 years This interview was conducted on April 10, 2006 by James Sanders at Mr. Scorsese's offices in Manhattan.
The City Has Become A Great Studio – A Conversation With Martin Scorsese ( I )
James Sanders: What was your first experience with location soothing in New York?
Martin Scorsese: The first time I saw a film being shot, it was a night scene of [the TV series] "Naked City," and they came to my neighborhood, Elizabeth and Houston streets (Google street view). This was the late '50s, and it was the first time I saw anything like that in my life. I must have been sixteen of seventeen, and it was up by a little park on the north side of Houston. I don't know if that park is there now, probably isn't, I think there's a building there now. [In those days] no one came into that neighborhood. It was a wonderful community of people, Italian-Americans, Italians from different part of Italy.
But at the same time it was also kind of a closed neighborhood in the sense of, you know, organized crime figures and that sort of thing, and to a certain extent it was a little dangerous in the streets. You had the the rise of the "Blackboard Jungle," juvenile delinquents, young bloods having fights with other young bloods in the streets. So that no one came to that neighborhood from the outside. It was locked.
So here we were, in the middle of the nighttime, they're shooting there. They're making rain, and there's the guy on the ground in a raincoat, and the other guy is standing over him. And he has a harpoon aimed at him, and the other guy's begging for his life. Of course, the kids in my neighborhood started making noise, and they had to be taken away. They were really unfriendly. I couldn't quite believe it looked, you know, the actors had a strength to them. The harpoon thing was absurd, but making rain was kind of interesting to me.
The next location film I saw, also "Naked City," they shot in a very, very photogenic location–certainly one of the ten most photogenic locations in New York: Jersey Street, right off Mulberry, towards old St. Patrick's church. Those two blocks are just incredible, and that alley has a long history going back to the period of Gangs of New York. Those are the only two times I saw films being made [as a teenager]. They were both "Naked City."
JS: You have said you spent much of your childhood in the city watching films, in movie houses like the Lowe's Commodore on East 6th Street, and on television. Given your own later interest as a filmmaker working on location, how did you respond to those landmark early features shot in and around New York, such as "On the Waterfront" (1954), and "Force of Evil (1948)?
MS: Those early location films were important to us. "Waterfront" was a key film. The fact that it was in Hoboken didn't matter. There was something about the authenticity of the streets, the cobblestones, the faces, the costumes, that we appropriated as being Lower East Side, Italian-American. Okay, towards the West Side, the docks, we will go that far (laughs). That was literally like, I never thought I would see that kind of thing on the screen. "Force of Evil" was earlier and was another key film, the opening sequence of "Wall Street" alone–Wall Street empty–is glorious, as glorious as the ending of "Manhattan" by Woody Allen. Of course, in a different way–a darker way (laughs).
JS: What I find impressive about "Force of Evil" is that it actually contains very few location shots. Only five or six in all. They are arranged to trace a coherent geography, a descent that renders in physical terms the moral and emotional journey of the rackets lawyer player by John Garfield–from the rarefied heights of Wall Street skyscraper to the "everyday" levels of the streets. Then, still further down, to the terrible discovery of his brother's body, washed up in the river.
MS: Yes, with the repetition of his voice-over dialogue: "I went down and down... to find my brother." It is one of the most moving films, one of the most beautiful films ever made. They call it noir. I guess it is noir.