In recent weeks the Bronx has been the focus of media attention for its past, with the critically-acclaimed Netflix hit series ‘The Get Down,’ which follows a fictional aspiring rapper in the tumultous Bronx of 1977.
But last week the borough got an investment in its media future, as Silvercup Studios expanded from its longtime home base in Long Island City with a $35 million facility in Port Morris at 295 Locust Avenue.
Silvercup management was joined by Governor Cuomo, Council Speaker Carl Heastie and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and other city and state leaders at a Wednesday, August 17 ribbon cutting ceremony at the site.
Diaz said his borough had historically not benefitted from the film industry, and had long been portrayed in a negative light by Hollywood.
“The film industry is booming in the city and the state thanks to the tax credits,” Diaz said. “But the reality is, for too many years, the Bronx has not participated in that,” he said. “Recently though, you’ve seen shows like Gotham, Boardwalk Empire, working with the state, and more and more the film industry is looking at us to film not only in our streets, but in this 115,000-square-foot studio thanks to the Suna brothers.”
Cuomo told those on hand the Bronx, like the other outer borough, struggled for years as manufacturing jobs left.
Those struggles had often been overlooked as Manhattan prospered, he added.
But the film industry was among the businesses helping to replace those lost jobs, he said.
“The Bronx is back,” he said. “This is a much different place.”
The new facility, dubbed Silvercup North, features four production studios with 50-foot-high ceilings that can accommodate two-story sets.
The building also houses on-site production offices, grip and lighting departments and prop and wardrobe storage areas.
The new studio is expected to create 400 film industry jobs, according to the governor’s office.
“Port Morris is the perfect location for our newest studio,” said company president Stuart Suna. “With easy access to transportation, and the many offerings in this burgeoning neighborhood, as well as the incredible support from the state, the city and the Bronx, we expect Silvercup North to be a big success for us, the productions we support, and the local community.”
The company received a $1.6 million performance-based grant through the New York City Regional Economic Development Council to help fund construction and equipment.
The first program to be filmed at the facility will be ‘Time After Time,’ a science-fiction tinged ABC series from executive producer Kevin Williamson (‘Scream,’ ‘Dawson’s Creek’), who will also serve as a co-executive producer with Marcos Siega, who produced ‘Blindspot’ and ‘The Following.’ The series is based on a 1979 novel of the same name by Nicholas Meyer.
The show follows the fictional exploits of ‘The Time Machine’ author H.G. Wells, played by Freddie Stroma of the Harry Potter films, as he travels into the future in his time machine to hunt Jack the Ripper, played by Josh Bowman of ABC’s ‘Revenge.’
The show also stars Genesis Rodriguez and Regina Taylor.
“The opening of Silvercup North in the Bronx is further proof of the borough’s growing economy, especially as a new home for New York City’s iconic film industry,” said Ryan Birchmeier, NYC Economic Development Corporation Public Affairs associate. “Later this year, York Studios, a production company supported by the City’s Industrial Development Agency, will also open in the Soundview neighborhood. The New York City Economic Development Corporation is proud to continue creating quality jobs across the five boroughs and a variety of industries.”
Bronx Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nunzio Del Greco called the growing film industry presence in the borough “fabulous news.”
“Anytime a prominent company moves into the Bronx, it’s good for revitalization and redevelopment. There’s no downside, that’s for sure.”
Del Greco said the studio would help property values and businesses in the area, much like the developing Mott Haven area now being given the trendy name Piano district, with its thriving restaurants and apartments.
“The Bronx isn’t the forgotten borough anymore.” He said.