Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shelled Out Big Bucks in New York
New York City is in trouble once again (just once it would be fun if the city in peril were, say, Charleston) and it’s up to four heroes (really five, counting reporter April O’Neil) to save the city, and mankind, from a remorseless villain and his minions. We’re talking about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, of course, which opens this Friday, but before the film’s villain Shredder threatened to destroy New York City, the film’s production poured money and jobs into the city and state.
When films and television shows come to town it has a very immediate effect on the local economy. Whether it’s making filming attractive by offering tax incentives or creating their own studios to aid in local production, states reap major benefits when mutant turtles or zombies come to town. New York has created a haven for filmmakers, which explains why major productions come to town regardless of whether the film is set in New York. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Noah, and TNMT are just a few of the major productions that have poured money into the state.
For TMNT, the local communities ferreted out something big was happening before the production crew could even begin filming in the state—from reporter Steve Bottari of Tupper Lake’s local TV station WCAX (Channel 3) in Tupper Lake, a beautiful little idyll in in the Adirondacks of northeast New York, to the site On Location Vacations and sussed out the production coming to Wantagh, New York, which follows filming locations and “movie-related travel inspiration,” both the Tupper Lake locals and Wantagh residents knew something big was coming into town. On Location Vacations were tipped off to TNMT production by one of their savvy Twitter followers who decoded a sign on the set reading “4SQ” as the code for the Turtle reboot. Residents upstate in Tupper Lake were no less aware that the big budget film had arrived in their neck of the woods, and were enthusiastic about what it meant for the community. "The people of Tupper Lake aren’t just excited fro the bright lights of Hollywood,” Bottari wrote, “they’re excited for the big budget that comes with it.”
TNMT utilized Big Tupper Ski Resort in the off season, where they filmed a major chase scene. NY Loves Film, the website run by the Governor's Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, reported that one of the things that makes Tupper Lake so amenable to filmmakers (Warner Bros. recent Winter’s Tale filmed there, as has All is Bright starring Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd) is not just the lush surroundings in summer, but the fact that as a former railroad hub, Tupper Lake has unused rail yards that can be modified into production hubs.
The economic ripple effect caused by TNMT included using local businesses for catering, lodging and construction work. Equipment rental, hotels and restaurants were all buoyed by the needs of the production. Amber Beaudette works at Tupper Lake's Swiss Kitchen, and told Bottari that since the turtles came to town she, and the rest of the community got a lot busier, including the volunteer firefighters were called on to monitor the pyrotechnics. Estimates put the production’s spending in Tupper Lake in the millions. The residents of the mountain village community were so hospitable to the crew that Paramount has scheduled a special screening there in advance of the premiere this Friday.
Lyn Pinezich, unit production manager on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, told NY Loves Film that the experience of shooting in Tupper Lake, and in New York State in general, was unbeatable. “Everything we needed was in New York State – from the incomparable NYC locations where the Ninja Turtles live, to the upstate winter wonderland of the Adirondacks where we staged a phenomenal chase scene, to an elegant Gatsby-esque mansion on Long Island’s Gold Coast…I just don’t think there is any other state in the country with this kind of variety and volume of landscape and architecture.” Tax incentives made shooting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in New York, already an attractive proposition due to the locations and the deep talent base of the locally based crews, a no brainer. "We were so fortunate to be able to shoot in New York thanks to the tax incentive," Pinezich said. "When you shoot in New York, the quality crew base is so deep that you are guaranteed to staff a world-class team anytime you show up, and on Turtles we had the absolute A-list across the board."