Photos by Spacesmith LLP
Headed in part by Mary Stuart Masterson, Upriver Studios is a women-owned facility that looks to draw the attention of New York City production houses to Ulster County.
The Hudson Valley’s film industry had its best year in 2019, but, due to COVID-19, production hit pause for a significant chunk of 2020. Fortunately, film production company Upriver Studios is excited to help the industry bounce back.
Coming soon to Saugerties, Upriver Studios will consist of high-end pre- and post-production studios, conference rooms, make-up studio, wardrobe spaces, and potentially two large film studios right off the NYS Thruway Exit 20.
While the Saugerties space is a new addition for Upriver Studios, the women-owned film company has maintained a presence in the Hudson Valley since 2018. In 2019, it found its future home at One Tomsons Road. The company is headed by actress, director, and Hudson Valley resident Mary Stuart Masterson, media strategist Beth Davenport, and producer Diane Wheeler-Nicholson. While Masterson is known for her roles in Immediate Family and Fried Green Tomatoes, in 2016 she and Davenport founded Stockade Works, the women-owned, not-for-profit production training center in Kingston.
Like with Stockade Works in Kingston, the Hudson Valley’s television and film shooting resources are what attracted Upriver Studios to Saugerties. The heightened 35-percent tax credit for shooting in the Valley, which extends until 2022, is also one of the biggest opportunities present for filmmakers.
To construct the space, Upriver Studios teamed up with architectural firm Spacesmith to convert a 104,000-square-foot industrial building into a state-of-the-art film studio.
Spacesmith is not an outsider in the Hudson Valley, but has designed projects in Hudson, with regional offices there, in Albany, and in New York City. In the city, Spacesmith designed a screening auditorium for the School of Visual Arts, along with other classroom amenities.
At the new location, both Spacesmith and Upriver Studios are dedicated to efficiency. Part of that efficiency means ensuring that the site will be as eco-friendly as possible. Spacesmith plans to have 100-percent clean renewable energy by 2030, and will do so through adaptations like low-flow toilets and fixtures, high-efficiency LED lighting, and locally sourced materials.
Upriver Studios is an asset during this uncertain COVID-19 environment, given that there is plenty of room for social distancing inside and outside the studio.
“With the public health crisis, the location has become even more attractive to stakeholders seeking a safe place to set up production,” says Katy Flammia, AIA, director of design at Spacesmith. If all goes well, Upriver will be able to set up shop in Saugerties before fall arrives.
“Portions of the project will open later this summer. The plan is to phase construction so the office and pre- and post-production spaces will open first, and then the film stages after that,” Flammia explains. Fingers crossed, Upriver Studios might just be a home for the next I Know This Much Is True or A Quiet Place.