If you’ve ever watched the 2018 film “A Quiet Place,” you’re probably familiar with the bridge scene in which the Abbott family walks along the railroad and attempts to cross the bridge. What you may not know is where this scene was filmed. That bridge is on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail right here in New Paltz. Other filming locations for “A Quiet Place” include the towns of Beacon and Pawling and the city of Little Falls, all tucked in the Hudson Valley.
Even though the Hudson Valley isn’t new to filmmakers, it’s become an increasingly popular spot to film in within the past decade. In fact, the Hudson Valley film commission reported that 2021 was a record-breaking year in production which cost $57 million in total.
Some classic movies shot in the region include the Oscar-winning film “Splendor In The Grass” (1961) starring Natalie Wood which was filmed in High Falls, and the 1994 Oscar-nominated movie “Nobody’s Fool” starring Paul Newman was shot in Dutchess County and Poughkeepsie.
More recently, HBO’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls” was filmed at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie and another HBO show, “Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin” was filmed in Saugerties. Even Marvel Studios has dabbled in the Hudson Valley, filming “Avengers: Endgame” in Ulster and Dutchess Counties.
So what makes the Hudson Valley so special? This region is home to cities, towns and rural areas. There’s historic neighborhoods and modern creations alike. With different landscapes from the mountains to the farmland, filmmakers have a variety of views to play around with. New Paltz is also home to the Mohonk Mountain House, a popular getaway destination for wealthy tourists, including some celebrities. Despite a low tourist period with COVID-19, the Hudson Valley is still gaining traction. In 2021, visitor spending increased by over 50%.
The Hudson Valley isn’t a stranger to movie stars either. Many celebrities seasonally reside in the area and with New York City being just two hours away, it’s a convenient location. Both Robert DeNiro and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, have homes in Ulster County.
When we think of movie stars and classic films, we often think of Hollywood. California has warm, predictable weather, but the real reason why Hollywood was such a popular site for filmmakers was because of a man named Thomas Edison. He had a total of 1,093 patents and owned the Motion Picture Patents Company. It was essentially impossible for filmmakers to be sued for infringing on motion picture patents.
Filmmakers come to the Hudson Valley for the exact opposite reason. They have access to all four seasons, especially autumn, the most beautiful season in the Hudson Valley and the busiest with tourists visiting for the fall scenery. “A Quiet Place” certainly utilized the fall season to emphasize the creepy, isolating feeling of the film.
The cherry on top for filmmakers was the production studio that opened just last year in September of 2021. The owner of Michelson Studios, Eric Michelson, opened the studio in hopes that it would grow production in the Hudson Valley after a hard year with COVID-19. Located in East Fishkill, it’s a 50,000 square-foot building with a convenient hour and a half drive to New York City.
The Hudson Valley Film Commission estimated that during the first half of 2022, $38 million of direct local spending was used on production and there is more to come. Actor-director-producer and founder/president of Upriver Studios Mary Stuart Materson says filming in the Hudson Valley would benefit the economy. “It will be great for New York State if Upstate has a thriving TV business. It really is the thing that transforms the economy, rather than itinerant seasonal swells of films. It will help stabilize the film economy, community and industry. And then we can all make our art films in the summer. That’s the hope. TV projects can help build the capacity to make a standing crew available. Three crews deep: that would be the goal,” she says. Currently, a new Peacock show “Poker Face” starring Natasha Lyonne, is being filmed in Newburgh. Apple TV’s “Severance” was filmed in Ulster county and premiered in February of this year. Watch out, Hollywood, you’ve got some competition!