Young Lion Studios LLC, a 70,000-square-foot film studio at the Rochester Tech Park in Gates, plans to launch two business segments this month to increase revenues and boost the local film industry.
Managing Partner Alex Miltsch said the studio has created Productionville, a film development and production company, and Roar Brand Films, a digital branding and marketing firm.
"Productionville is the studio's vision to start producing original projects, both for film and television, on a regular basis here in Rochester," Miltsch said. "Roar is a production company that helps brands tell stories.
"We have the talent and resources to help local and national businesses, as well as individuals, market themselves through non-traditional media, whether it's something like a brand documentary or a short film."
Young Lion Studios opened in 2008 with a team led by Miltsch, a Rochester native, and funding from Brooklyn-based Tryad Group, which owns the Rochester Tech Park. The studio has accommodated both local and national film productions.
The studio has two multimillion-dollar soundstages, one of which is 7,500 square feet and features a 50-foot by 60-foot wall that can be used as a green screen, along with several offices and a film equipment and rental center.
Miltsch said perhaps 12 feature-length films have been shot at Young Lion, including 2007 independent film "Cherry Crush," nationally released thriller "The Alphabet Killer," starring Cary Elwes, and "The Hammer," a 2010 independent film that received national distribution from Los Angeles-based D&E Entertainment.
Young Lion's facilities qualify for the New York State Film Production Credit, a $420 million state incentive program that offers rebates to certain film productions that shoot a percentage of a film at a qualified facility.
Nora Brown, executive director of the Rochester Finger Lakes Film and Video Office, said the tax credit and Young Lion's impressive facilities are attractive for local and national filmmakers.
"Young Lion has truck bays, film equipment, the offices and the warehousing for props that bigger productions require," Brown said. "Those things are a key component for movie and television filmmakers that want to take advantage of the New York State tax program."
Young Lion's facilities have proved valuable for local ad agencies. The space has been used by companies such as Jay Advertising Inc., which shot a Chevrolet commercial there, and Partners + Napier Inc., which used the facility to shoot a commercial for Eastman Kodak Co.
"Young Lion is very similar to studios in the New York City area or some of the studios in Los Angeles that we've shot at," said Jeremy Schwartz, creative director at Partners + Napier. "For us to be able to be in production here and not have to travel, and for our clients at Kodak to be able to be there, was a huge benefit."
Miltsch would not disclose revenues for Young Lion. The company has made money but will need to generate more regular work going forward, he said.
"To maintain this real estate, we need to create more consistent business in town, not just a film here or there," he said. "There is a lot of small production business happening here. There's a lot of location-based production. The concept with our new endeavors is to give Rochester film production a home for that work."
The concept of Productionville matches well with Miltsch's talents. He is an Emmy-winning producer who used to work in Los Angeles, developing films and television shows for companies such as NBC-Universal Media LLC and Viacom Inc.
"Productionville is about putting together a slate of projects, maybe three movies right off the bat to let people know we're here to stay," Miltsch said. "We're looking to do really good, low-budget projects, which minimizes risk. Everyone says film can be a risky business, but the payoff can be really big."
Productionville already has begun developing a few television and film projects, he said, but he declined to provide specifics.
Young Lion's other new venture, Roar Brand, also has begun working with a few local businesses on branding initiatives, he said.
"Even with the use of the social media and the Internet, most ad agencies across the country still lean on the more conservative and traditional models of marketing and branding," Miltsch said. "We're looking to do something that starts in the digital realm with video that a lot of other companies aren't doing."
Increased revenues at Young Lion would allow the company to boost its employment, said Miltsch. Young Lion carries two full-time employees, but the company has contracted with as many as 80 to 100 workers for certain film projects.
"It's not just about saying this is a film city, but it's also about economic growth in that industry here," said Miltsch. "We want to help develop a stable, thriving local production industry. This is the next step in doing that."
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