New Jersey becoming a hot spot for filmmakers

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey might not be the new Hollywood, but it's certainly getting a lot of attention by filmmakers.

Many studios are using the Garden State as a backdrop to upcoming films.

The latest is Steven Spielberg's remake of "West Side Story," but there's also the new "Sopranos" prequel and several new Netflix shows.

The trend is not only putting New Jersey on the map, but it's also bringing in big bucks for local communities.

Military transport vehicles and street signs in Polish are classic images from World War II. But a closer look at one movie set, and you'll see Paterson City Hall in the background.

"Paterson has become a hub for the film industry," Mayor Andre Sayegh said. "You've had the city transformed into Warsaw, Poland; London, England; and Zagreb, Croatia for three different sets."

Over the last year, TV and movie sets -- and even actors in full costume -- have been popping up all around town.

Productions like "The Hunt," "The Plot Against America" starring Winona Ryder, and the new "West Side Story" are all on location in Paterson.

"This did not exist this time last year," Sayegh said. "I believe it's because of our beautiful bones in Paterson. We have the architecture, so you can essentially re-create anything."

Last fall, Governor Phil Murphy reinstated tax credits for the film industry, 30 percent of the total production budget. And on top of that, the city sweetens the pot with highly competitive location fees.

"There are benefits, long-term benefits, because other films are going to come and they're going to start investing in the local economy," Sayegh said. "And then here's the multiplier effect. You got crews. They get hungry."

And that's exactly what happened when the sopranos prequel was shooting a scene on Ellison Street, across from Gionvanni Pizzeria, in April.

"All of them (came)," owner Giovanni Kiyan said. "The whole crew."

In fact, Mayor Sayegh says "The Hunt" generated $40,000 for downtown businesses.

"It obviously enhances our image," he said. "It raises our profile. And people can brag about Paterson."

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