More than 200 filmmakers and industry leaders showed their support for both the Tribeca Film Festival and the DGA at the kickoff breakfast of the Second Tribeca Film Festival in New York on May 7.
DGA director David Hugh Jones, who directed Festival co-founder Robert De Niro in Jacknife, spoke for many when he expressed his hope that the biggest benefit to emerge from the Festival would be a continued commitment to the Big Apple. "To eliminate shooting in Toronto when New York is the setting, of course, is the goal," he said, but that will only occur, "when either the director or the stars sit down and say, 'This is a New York story. I will not shoot this in Toronto.' "
The seriousness of the runaway production crisis arose again and again, and many spoke of ways to keep Gotham as a vital filmmaking center. "We have a 30-member NYPD unit that facilitates all production," Katherine Oliver, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said. "We're sending a new message with this new administration that we want your business, we need your business, and we want to support all of these projects. We're in tough times, so we're working very hard to look at different types of incentives that we can offer filmmakers."
One of the consistent forces with a commitment to New York is, of course, De Niro. Jane Rosenthal, also a Festival co-founder, said that De Niro always wanted to establish his film studio, Tribeca Films, near where he was raised, and found his location in a century-old coffee factory in the Greenwich Avenue area 15 years ago. At the time, the area was mainly warehouses and dark streets. De Niro not only reclaimed the area, he brought movie production back to its historic roots. The first movies produced in New York were shot just a few avenues over on lower Broadway at the turn of the 20th century.
The DGA and other guilds benefit directly from the revitalization of the reclaimed area, Rosenthal said. "A very important part of Tribeca Film is to help production stay in New York."
DGA filmmakers attending the breakfast included Neil Burger, Leslie Harris, Nancy Savoca and Dan Algrant. Burger pointed out that the sincerity of the Festival as a New York event was demonstrated by the inclusion of two programs focusing exclusively on New York. Algrant spoke of the symbolic significance of the DGA welcoming breakfast. "When the filmmakers see that the DGA is interested in a wide scope of films, the filmmakers get a sense of what the DGA stands for and that it is an inclusive Guild."