YONKERS, N.Y. – The bright lights of Hollywood are back in Yonkers.
After a few quiet years, the city is once again becoming a destination for movie and television producers. Crews spent more than 100 days filming in Yonkers in 2012, bringing in revenue for the city and big business for local store owners.
City officials credit the recently re-launched Yonkers Film Office with playing a big part in drawing producers back to the city.
“It signaled that Yonkers is open for filming,” said Christina Gilmartin, spokesperson for Mayor Mike Spano. “The revamped film office focuses on enhancing the production experience while maximizing the benefit for our local economy.”
It wasn’t always this way though. After entertaining movie and television crews almost on “a weekly basis” in 2002, the number of days filmmakers were in the city took a recent nosedive, bottoming out at 30 in 2010.
Hoping to recapture the attention of Hollywood, Spano announced last year the city was slashing fees for producers and re-launching the Yonkers Film Office to create a more streamlined process for producers to secure permits.
And it seems Hollywood has responded nicely.
In 2012, Yonkers supplied the backdrop for television shows like Kevin Bacon’s “The Following” and “Law & Order: SVU,” as well as blockbuster movies like “A Winters Tale” and “Innocence,” among others. Despite lowering its fees, Yonkers was able to rake in an estimated $40,000 in revenue from filmmakers in 2012, said Gilmartin.
But cashing in on permit fees is not the main goal, she said.
“We are actively trying to make this a filming friendly city and not to impose outrageous fees and obstacles for production companies,” she said.
Instead, by opening the door to movie crews and their multi-million dollar budgets, the city was hoping to see a significant economic boost with more spending at area businesses. Along Tuckahoe Road, across from Yonkers Stage, a 32,000 square-foot movie studio, a number of businesses said Thursday they are seeing that happen.
While the big-name actors typically have catered food brought to the set, workers at Marcellino’s Café said the pizza joint gets regular visits from workers and stage crew members. In fact, Joe Nieves said there was a film group there on Thursday grabbing a bite to eat at lunch.
“Every little bit helps,” he said. “We definitely like it better when they’re here than when they aren’t.”
Down the road, Mobil gas station manager Jim Jamal said it’s common for production trucks to fill up 300-gallon tanks with diesel fuel for generators and other equipment on the set.
“It’s good business for us,” Jamal said. “You notice the days when they are filming there and when they are not. For sure, there is some improvement when they’re here.”
As for 2013, Yonkers is off to a good start as "Law and Order" films at City Hall next week. Various filming projects also continue at Yonkers Stage, a welcome sight for Tuckahoe Road businesses.
"Keep them coming," Jamal said.