Southern Neighbor Goes Hollywood:
Lights! Camera! Allen! Allegany County's Town of Allen hosts
Paramount Pictures movie shoot
The movie, which could be released next year, is set in a fictional Amish community, which is why Paramount location scouts chose the white, two-story Amish-built farmhouse. The property had been vacant. A nearby barn now houses all of the accoutrements of filmmaking: lights, cameras and sound equipment. Signs above the barn stalls denote spaces for wardrobe and props. A COVID-19 screening area occupies a large space. The set is closed to visitors as part of the movie industry’s pandemic protocols.
Members of the production team were not permitted to comment on location, but Paramount authorized Tim Clark, commissioner of the Buffalo Niagara Film Office, to disclose some details of the shoot. Clark could not reveal the title of the movie or even its genre, but he said that Paramount grew interested in the Southern Tier when John Krasinski directed “A Quiet Place II” in the Village of Akron near Buffalo in 2019.
“The executives at Paramount, after spending the summer here, thought that what they were looking for was available here, in Western New York and in particular the Southern Tier,” Clark said. “The way these movies work, they send in location scouts. They zeroed in on the Western New York vicinity, and they basically didn’t miss one nook or cranny in the place. They spent over a month searching for locations, and this is something that the production wanted to use. They had looked at dozens and dozens of locations, and this one was perfect for the look they were trying to get.”
Production will have an impact on the local economy. Clark did not indicate whether any A-list or B-list celebrities have been cast in the movie, but local actors will be working as extras. Last month, Casting Buffalo issued a notice for “Amish-type folk” including an “Elder grandfather — male, Caucasian, 70+, weathered appearance, full beards (willing to match proper Amish-type look), no visible tattoos or piercings, healthy.” Other roles include an elder grandmother, young adults, children who can sing, and people who have experience working with horses and buggies or in carpentry and blacksmithing. A tractor trailer-sized generator and a half dozen large trucks are parked at the Short Tract fire hall which is serving as a base camp for a movie production crew filming in Allegany County. Shooting a film in such a remote location has required Paramount to bring Hollywood to Allegany County. The film studio is renting the Short Tract Volunteer Fire Company’s hall and surrounding land to park a tractor trailer-sized generator, several large trailers, a food truck and a fleet of school buses and vans to shuttle cast and crew several miles to the set.
Even though Paramount brought so much equipment, the production is expected to have an economic impact locally, Clark said.
“For Allegany County, and we won’t know until it’s calculated out at the end, it’s likely to be also millions of dollars. That’s really a lengthy, a big location for them,” Clark said, noting that Paramount will spend money daily to fuel the generator and tractor trailers as well as to buy supplies.
“A lot of the supplies that are used for this movie are really bought locally. I’ve worked with Paramount on a couple of projects already, and they are a company that really believes in patronizing the local establishments. That includes local stores, hardware, paint, all kinds of things like that as well as hotels and catering.”
A movie being filmed on a hillside farm in Allen may seem unusual, but Clark doesn’t think it will be the last movie made in the Southern Tier. He cites the New York state film tax credit. According to the Empire State Development website, production companies “may be eligible to receive a fully refundable credit of 25% of qualified production costs and post-production costs incurred in New York state.” Productions with budgets of a half-million dollars or more may receive a 10% credit on labor costs for films shot in many Southern Tier counties.
“We have been doing much more filming in Western New York lately, so as the increased filming happens, you get sort of us and others scouting in areas like Allegany, Livingston, Steuben, all those counties. We really do try to spread it beyond Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the usual cast of characters. I do think there will be more movies coming to Allegany County and to the Southern Tier.”
Clark said that a movie’s economic impact can continue in a community long after it has played in theaters and on streaming services. “After a movie is made, there’s a thing called ‘film tourism,’ and what happens is people will see these towns or the scenery, and people want to see where that is made. They want to see that particular location that’s shown in the movie.”