Film COOP Women in Film tour connects filmmakers to the region

The Film COOP Women in Film 2021 location tour group is preparing to board a
Leatherstocking Trolley on Friday October 1 at Cooperstown. The filmmakers are, from left to right, Cheyenne Phillips, Sierra Sangetti-Daniels, Alysa Blasetti, Elizabeth Zephyrine McDonough, Lauren Sowa and Skye Bailey. (Greg Klein /

STAFF REPORT • Special at

COOPERSTOWN – From September 30 to October 3, Film COOP hosted a group of female directors for a location tour and networking event.

“It has been an incredible and transformative weekend,” said Greg Klein, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Film COOP. “We started on Thursday as a group of strangers, but Sunday was like a family of artists who bonded in unpredictable and amazing ways.”

Film COOP is the pioneering film commission in the Mohawk Valley Economic Development District and the official film office for the County of Otsego, the Village of Cooperstown and the Town and Town of Oneonta. Klein said the tour was funded by Film COOP, its donors, including the CJ Heilig Foundation, and a tourism micro-grant from Otsego County.

“We figured it was around $ 1,500 per person for the weekend, including food, hotel rooms and a two-day cart rental,” he said. “However, no one paid more than $ 300 and we also gave scholarships.

“The idea was to get the women here and drink them and dine them at a ridiculously low cost to them in order to link them to each other, to Film COOP and to Otsego County,” he said. he continued. “It worked better than any of us could have imagined. “

The group spent three nights at the Landmark Inn or the Inn at Cooperstown. “Everything was rave reviews,” Klein said.

The Otsego County Community Foundation via Otsego 2000 sponsored a Diversity Inclusion Fellowship, which went to Skye Bailey, a black filmmaker from Bowie, Md. “Skye is an incredible artist,” Klein said. “She is the film version of a foreign artist. She took two trains to get here not knowing what to expect and I think she left with hours of footage, a dozen new friends and several ideas for making a horror movie here.

Klein thanked Sierra Sangetti-Daniels, Film COOP board member, for nominating the scholarship and Harry Levine and the Community Foundation for sponsoring it.

The foundation and Otsego Now also paid for the PPE, Klein said.

The event included an opening night at Templeton Hall in Cooperstown, followed by two days of streetcar tours and Sunday visits to the Sculpture Trail in Cherry Valley, the Art Garage in Middlefield and the Origins Cafe for brunch.

There were five official clients, but with Film COOP members or friends who are in the movie business, there were seven or eight people searching for sites every day. Delhi scout Jeri Cohen joined the tour on Saturday, as did Film COOP’s intern and recruiting coordinator for the event, Ellie Pink, a Cooperstown Central School graduate studying film at Boston University.

“Ellie worked on an award-winning student film at CCS, ‘Utica, A City That Loves Refugees,’ which was produced by our board member, JoAnn Gardner,” Klein said. “In one day of touring, we found jobs for her during the Christmas and summer holidays. She was just one of the female filmmakers of the day. And JoAnn was such a proud teacher to watch her and learn the student film CCS led Ellie to study film as a potential career.

On Friday, the group toured Cary Mede’s Estate, Hyde Hall, Brookwood Point and ended the night at the Stanley Theater in Utica.

“The Stanley is one of two MVEDD-qualified production facilities where filmmakers can claim tax credits,” Klein said. “To say that it stunned us all with her beauty would be an understatement. And they rolled out the red carpet for us and fed us on the main stage and showed us around. Plus, they’re going to let a local producer who was on tour follow them on a show. She is delighted with it. “

Oneonta High graduate Alysa Blasetti now works as a producer at Otsego Media, which has just opened an office at 76-78 Main St. in Oneonta. She will soon be attending a Donna Summer concert in Utica and working behind the scenes to see how the theater works.

“The Film COOP Women in Film Weekend was a huge success,” said Blasetti. “It has been an honor to be part of this historic group. I look forward to what the future holds.

On Saturday, filmmakers visited the Fly Creek Cider Mill, Lake House on Lake Canadarago, Spring Park and the Richfield Springs Community Food Co-op in Richfield Springs, Ommegang Brewery and Schenevus to say hello to Senator Peter Oberacker, whose company form Tech Solutions Inc. is a Film COOP business partner and tour co-sponsor.

“We saw so many ‘Hallmark movie’ sites on the tour, Cheyenne and Sierra started talking about making a movie here to showcase these sites,” Klein said. “Long story short, we’re working on how to make this a flagship vehicle for Cheyenne with the intention of filming the 2022 Christmas season.”

Sunday ended with a tour of Foothills, Main Street in Oneonta and dinner on the back deck of the Autumn Café.

“We even got to show them a political rally when we came across the women’s rights event at Muller Plaza,” Klein said. “It was great. Half of us had gone to get our table in the fall and a filmmaker texted me, ‘we’ll be there after another speaker.’

“Otsego County is bowing out. You really did your best for our group, ”Klein said. “The bad weather lasted until Sunday, the leaves just changed color, the hotels and restaurants impressed them and they really bonded with Film COOP and its board members. Plus, everyone’s been talking about going back to the movies here. We have ticked all the boxes.

The filmmakers also had some positive things to say about the tour.

Actor / model / producer Cheyenne Phillips grew up in Los Angeles. She recently moved to Oneonta, following her mother / manager Christine. Both said they wanted to get away from LA culture and live in a place with a healthier pace and lifestyle. “Film COOP provides a unique opportunity for filmmakers to witness the beauty and opportunity that Otsego County has made available to the arts community,” said Phillips.

The event included a screening of Elizabeth Zephyrine McDonough’s documentary, “Still Standing,” on two octogenarian comics. One night after screening it for his peers, McDonough got a Friday night slot to show the film at the Woodstock Film Festival. “She left the tour for half a day on Friday and met her husband in Woodstock,” Klein said. “I think she was exhausted on Saturday, but it was probably also one of the highlights of her career so far.”

The filmmakers met many dignitaries throughout the tour. Besides Oberacker, they met with Otsego County Board Chairman Dave Bliss, Otsego City Supervisor Meg Kiernan, Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh, Oneonta Mayor Gary Herzig and Oneonta mayoral candidates Len Carson and Mark Drnek, among others. “We presented them with a nice cross section of Otsego, in people and places,” Klein said.
He said Film COOP will certainly do another venue tour and will also welcome more women to film events.

“We have created a group this weekend who will hopefully come back here alone, with their families and for Film COOP events,” he said. “I don’t know where or what this is all leading to, but I do know it was a special and transformative weekend for all of us involved.”

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