By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
MIDDLEFIELD — The push to bring the film industry to Otsego County produced big results in July, in large part thanks to efforts of Film COOP and scenery in the region that the filmmakers couldn’t get anywhere else.
Tucked away at a “hideout” location, the small-budget action film “Bring Him Back Dead” was shot at a Middlefield cabin last week, with the type of energy one would find from a Hollywood production
previously not seen in Otsego County; actors, actresses, film producers and directors all passing by with artistic determination in their heads.
Korey Rowe, the owner of Otsego Media, which is co-producing the movie along with Millman Productions, said in spite of bad weather, they were on schedule to complete the film this week. He said the authenticity from shooting in Middlefield and around Otsego County is greatly helping the crew.
“We’re able to get a huge response from the local community, thanks to Film COOP,” Rowe said on-set Wednesday, July 14.
The cabin belongs to Patricia Slater and to her late husband, Eric Hunter Slater.
“You can’t pay for that kind of beauty,” Rowe said. “We’re able to get some amazing frames.”
Rowe said by using the cabin, they were able to save millions that would otherwise have gone towards paying to build a set. He also said Slater was able to show them different spots to shoot, which they ended up using in the production.
The Slater cabin was rented for two weeks; the location fees are one aspect of the economic impact that filming brings to a region. Catering, general merchandise, dry cleaning, local hires and out-of-town hires with per diems to spend are other ways a film production brings money to a local economy.
“Bring Them Back Dead” stars Gary Daniels and Daniel Baldwin.
Other locations that will be used in the film are in or around Cooperstown and Oneonta.
Rowe and his company produced “Asteroid” last summer in Oneonta and other parts of the region,
including filming on Main Street in Oneonta.
He said after seeing what he and his colleagues were able to do with a low budget on that film, other people in the industry at large took note. After working on a freelance assignment out of state, he met several people who were working on preproduction on the upcoming heist film.
Rowe got connected with “Bring Him Back Dead” Executive Producer Jeff Miller and Director Mark Savage. He convinced them Otsego County had exactly the locations they needed for their movie. Part of the draw was he convinced the filmmakers he had a vacant jewelry store at Southside Mall in the town of Oneonta that they could rent and then “rob.” Once he proved he could also get the hideaway location they wanted, hidden from neighbors and roads, he booked the job, not only for the county but for his company.
Rowe called “Bring Him Back Dead” a fight movie and said the natural locations enhanced the lure for the filmmakers.
Rowe said he is happy the production is on schedule, which even included an injury where an actress got a screw impaled in her hand which had to be screwed out and she was then taken to the hospital. However, the actress was back on set that very same day.
Most of the crew is from the Otsego County area, he said.
“We’re trying to create jobs and bring in revenue,” Rowe said, while acknowledging that the production is “hard, physically and emotionally.”
Katie Keene, an actress who plays the role of Lisa in the movie and who is originally from Kentucky, said Otsego County reminds her of home.
“Maybe I can just look for some property,” Keene said. “This is kind of like home
Keene, who plays a somewhat mischievous character in the movie, said she was happy to be working on the film.
“This is an act of love. It’s our passion,” Keene said.
Miller, who is from Los Angeles, is one of the big bosses on the project,
overseeing Rowe and his crew as they work to get each day’s “dailies in the can.” He said working with the people in Otsego County has been great.
“People are very friendly,” Miller said. “They seem like they are open and hospitable people.”
He also said there are certain advantages to filming in Otsego County he could not get in other places. “It gives us a different look from the South California me.”
The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta Editor Greg Klein is also the board president of Film COOP, which is the first film commission office in the state’s Mohawk Valley Economic Development District.
Film COOP, rhymes with hoop, is short for Coopers-town and also is an acronym for Cooperstown, Oneonta, Otsego (County Film) Partnership. The nonprofit is not a co-op, but it is essentially the agent for the region to the film and entertainment business, attracting productions and the economic benefits they bring.
As board president, Klein is the de facto film commissioner and executive director of Film COOP. However, he said the group would not be where it is today without Rowe, whom Klein called the group’s biggest donor, in both time and money.
Therefore, he said it was “exciting to see Korey’s success.”
“His family and mine made the same decision about not wanting to stay in Los Angeles, and Korey and I share a passion for being able to make films and other entertainment here instead,” Klein said. “It is great to see him actually doing it.”
“The great thing about this movie, is it was a win all the way around,” Klein said, “for Korey, for Otsego Media, for the filmmakers and for Film COOP. We put out a call for a hideaway location on our Facebook page and within a week they had scouted several locations in the county and determined this is where they wanted to film. And Korey did such a good job finding them locations, they hired him to film the movie for them.
“It was just win-win-win and that was great to see,” he continued.
Klein said there are other projects in preproduction that will film in Otsego County this year, including an upcoming movie about local bar owner Eva Coo and her murder trial. He and Rowe will also be shooting a television pilot together in the winter, he said.
“Our goal is to build a new industry here and it is beginning to happen,” Klein said. “It is an amazing thing to watch happen and it is an amazing thing to be a part of as it happens.”
In the fall, the film commission plans to host about a dozen female filmmakers for a destination weekend location tour of the county, the 2021 Women in Film Peak Leaf Week Location Tour and Networking Event.
The tour, which is designed to bring industry decision makers to see everything Otsego County
has to offer, in terms of filming locations, will run from Thursday, Sept. 30, to Sunday, Oct. 3. It will include trips throughout Otsego County, as well as to The Stanley Theater in Utica.
Go to Film COOP on Facebook or www.film-coop.com for more information.