Schenectady is once again playing host to filmmakers, this time from around the globe.
As part of the Northeast Filmmakers Lab, set for this weekend at Armory Studios NY, a group of filmmakers, some traveling from as far as the Netherlands, will work with industry experts to get their projects pitch-ready.
“We see the filmmakers evolve within that three-day period to the point where they know how to present their project in a professional manner and that’s the most important key for them to then leave the lab so that they can go and advance the project, raise money, find the right partners,” said Michael Camoin, the president and founder of Capital Cinema Cultural Exchange (CCCE), which organizes the lab.
It’s the ninth edition of the filmmakers’ lab, which began in 2014 and has since helped well over 100 filmmakers. The lab has been held at various locations around the area, though for the past two years, it was virtual because of the pandemic.
This year it’s both virtual and at Armory Studios, where several projects have been filmed and done production work in recent years, including Amazon Prime’s “Modern Love” and HBO Max’s “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.”
The projects filmmakers are bringing to the lab range in genre and style, from comedy to documentary to sci-fi animation.
“Filmmakers are incredibly talented in their own right. They’re good at what they do and what they need a little help with is the presentation, the delivery, the pitch, all the things that they don’t practice every day,” said Ray Legere, the co-owner of Armory Studios. “They’re magnificent filmmakers, telling great stories, but getting it to the next level is what the Filmmakers Lab does.”
“We’ve seen incredible talent come through and watched projects evolve to the point of seeing [them] get produced,” said Donna Pennell, Schenectady County film commissioner and CCCE board member.
One such success story was “Benedict Arnold: Hero Betrayed,” a documentary that was released last year. The filmmakers had previously attended one of the filmmakers’ labs to work on the pitch and Camoin said it helped the team get connected to Martin Sheen, who narrates the film.
Organizers credit the lab’s format, in part, to its success. A small number of filmmakers are selected to participate and organizers bring in industry mentors who can take the time to fine-tune their pitches and help them take that next step toward production.
This year’s keynote speaker is Mara McCann, a producer and venture capital strategist, who helps guide filmmakers on the business side of their projects. There are also film talks on the docket, including one on the power of regional filmmaking and the importance of diversity both on-screen and behind the scenes.
Filmmakers can also compete in a pitch contest, vying for $10,000 in production services.
While the lab is geared toward filmmakers, certain events are open to the public, including the keynote address with McCann and an industry mixer, which is slated for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Armory Studio Lounge, followed by the local premiere of “18 ½,” a feature film by Dan Mirvish about a White House staffer who tries to leak the missing minutes from the Nixon tapes to a reporter.
Budding filmmakers, actors and others interested in working in the industry should especially consider attending.
“This is a great opportunity for them to come and meet 10 other filmmakers,” Camoin said. “Relationship building is such a big part of the industry.”
Organizers also hope that filmmakers think of Schenectady when it comes time to produce their projects.
“The hope is that people really see this area as film-friendly. So when they finally get that money to go make their film, and they finally get that actor attached, they’ll think about Schenectady, New York, and they’ll think about Armory Studios because it’s a smart decision to work with people you know, who are friendly and know the business,” Camoin said.
The Northeast Filmmakers Lab runs from Friday through Sunday. For tickets to the public portion of the event, visit eventbrite.com. For more information on CCCE, visit cinemaexchange.org.