Vermont Studio Enters 22nd Year
Written by D.P. Bettencourt | Posted by: erin
After living in Vermont for a time, one would never imagine that there is a fully operational film studio next to the sugar shacks and haying fields, but David Giancola, founder and president of Edgewood Studios, has very convincing reasons for having picked Vermont for his studio, apart from it being his home state.
Edgewood Studios occupies 40,000 square feet of an historic warehouse complex in Rutland, Vermont. The company maintains the spirit of independent filmmaking while contributing to the community it inhabits and adhering to a sound business philosophy when the economy is in flux.
The studio rents trailers, lighting and grip, cameras, stages, and production offices. “Sound recording, image recording, lighting, full post-production from sound mix, digital effects… and talent,” said Giancola, during a recent visit to the studio. “If you’re small we can be small, if you’re bigger we can be bigger. We’re unlike anybody else in that we don’t have an agenda about what needs to be made.”
Edgewood Studios has also been producing projects in-house — especially family and action movies for television — since 1987. Giancola directed the sci-fi cult film Time Chasers, about a physics professor who invents a time machine. Time Chasers was re-released on DVD in 2006 after it screened at the 5th Annual London Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film. Edgewood also produced the 2007 comedy Illegal Aliens, featuring Anna Nicole Smith, with Giancola directing. Most recently Edgewood collaborated with the Hallmark Channel in the making of Moonlight & Mistletoe, a family drama starring Tom Arnold. Released November 28, 2008, Moonlight & Mistletoe boosted the Hallmark Channel to the highest rated cable network in prime time for that day.
At present, three writers are working with Edgewood to develop new screenplays: a family movie, an action comedy, and another to pitch to Hallmark.
But Edgewood also takes projects from other filmmakers under their wings. And for that, Giancola said that Rutland is just the right fit. “It’s small enough where I can still make a difference in a community if I bring a movie in and that’s very gratifying,” said Giancola who also spent time in New York and LA. “It’s the big fish in a small pond thing. The longer I’m here, the more people know about us. There’s more credibility.”
Since Vermont isn’t inundated with production, Edgewood can still gain community support for shooting on location. “Where else can you call up the police chief or the mayor and say, ‘I need to drive through downtown at 60 miles per hour. Can we close off Main Street, can we close of Merchant’s Row and Center Street?’ And the answer is, ‘Yeah you gotta pay for the cops’ over time fine.’” Giancola recounted that shoot: it was six am on a Sunday morning; it was dangerous and required five cops. But they loved getting the overtime. “The last time I went to get an okay for a location I had to stand there while each alderman congratulated me for helping out the economy and helping out tourism. So when you have that kind of love fest going on, it’s a win-win scenario,” he said.
Giancola would like to see Vermont take the direction of neighboring states (CT, RI, NY, and MA) by passing a film production tax incentive. He recently presented his case to Vermont legislators wearing nothing more than a Santa suit. He explained that Moonlight & Mistletoe, set in Chester, VT, dropped between $800,000 and $900,000 during Central Vermont’s off-season. “We did something like 1,400 room nights in the hotels,” he told them. Giancola remains optimistic about passing the incentives, “They won’t be 30 percent, they’ll be 25, but that would still keep me here.”
Meanwhile, Edgewood does what it can to keep the Rutland community involved with production. The studio frequently donates wardrobe and props to charity and recruits its staff with an eye toward local talent. “The deal is this: We hire Vermonter’s first, New Englanders second, New Yorkers third, and then people from the rest of the country fourth,” said Giancola.
And while the facility is impressive and could overwhelm a new filmmaker, Edgewood retains the qualities of a small organization run by a few very talented people. “When everybody sleeps in the building and we do the smaller movies and it becomes like community theater,” said Giancola.
He wants filmmakers to know that all types of projects are welcome at Edgewood. “We can provide production services a la cart, meaning you can hand us your screenplay and the money and we can deliver you a movie six months later, or you can come to us and say, ’We don’t want you to have any creative involvement in this at all we just want to be plugged into the best deals in the community,’ or you can come to us with, ‘Hey I’ve got $150,000 I want to make my horror movie but I’m not really sure how to do it’ and we’ll take you right through to distribution.”
Driving to my home in Southern Vermont and passing landscapes that remind me in texture and color of Southern France, I reflect on Giancola’s funny and experienced remarks about the particular suitability of Vermont to filmmaking: “For us what’s important about Vermont is that we know where all of the bodies are buried in terms of locations. I can tell you where there’s a paddleboat if you want to look like you’re on the Mississippi; you want a Huey helicopter? I know where there’s one. You want a jet or an old mansion that looks like Tara from Gone With the Wind? It doesn’t just have to be barns and cows, that’s the easiest one.”
Visit Edgewood online at www.edgewoodstudios.com. Read a previous story on Edgewood Studios here.