New Milford tries to bring film, TV projects back
NEW MILFORD — Millions of people have seen glimpses of New Milford’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods on the silver and small screen.
Red Corvettes lined Bank Street in Adam Sandler’s “Mr. Deeds,” Jerry Seinfield and David Letterman visited town in “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” and the Boardman Bridge appeared in Wes Craven’s “My Soul to Take.”
But the amount of movie, TV and commercial projects has dropped after the state cut the tax break to film in Connecticut.
Now the New Milford Film Commission is rolling out a series of initiatives to help bring filmmakers back and support those aspiring in the industry, said Valerie Lorimer, the commission’s chairwoman.
“We want to be helpful and supportive of any and all filmmakers who come to town,” she said.
Among the initiatives is a new database that connects those in the television and film industries and a mixer that allows them to meet face to face. Some of the jobs included are wardrobe, directing, acting, lighting, cinematography and makeup.
“We want to get as wide of a market as we can get,” Lorimer said.
About 50 people are entered in the database, many of whom signed up at the commission’s first mixer last week, which sold out. People can still join the database through the commission’s website.
Connecticut also has a production directory.
The database will go live as soon as possible, though Lorimer added it takes some time to add all of the information collected at the mixer.
Lorimer said she was surprised to learn that three people had just moved to town from New York City or Los Angeles and were still involved in making films on the side.
She said the commission also supports students in the industry by encouraging them to do their projects and thesis in town.
“A supportive experience goes a long way toward repeat business,” Lorimer said.
The annual film festival, which started in 2016, also promotes emerging artists and offers scholarships to students hoping to pursue a career in the industry. Lorimer said last year’s recipient, Phair Haldin, is acting in a movie this year.
The film festival is run independent of town money and is instead funded through donations, advertisements and sponsorships. Ticket sales at the festival go toward the scholarships. This year’s scholarship deadline is April 16.
Lorimer said in addition to the talent in the area, New Milford itself makes a great backdrop for these shows and movies.
The commission’s website touts the farms, bridges, quarry and picturesque green with its surrounding historic buildings downtown.
“New Milford has a diverse topography,” Lorimer said. “We literally have everything except a seashore.”
In 2009, Roxbury native Rebecca Miller filmed her movie “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” largely in New Milford and Danbury. The film included performances from Robin Wright Penn, Alan Arkin, Blake Lively, Julianne Moore, Keanu Reeves, Maria Bello, Winona Ryder and Monica Bellucci.
The movie also used local talent, including a Danbury woman who worked on costumes, according to an earlier story.
At the Danbury premier, Miller said she appreciated being able to film near where she grew up, allowing her to revisit places and get an even better understanding of the area.
“I found myself falling in love with that town,” Miller said of New Milford.