For a director, shooting the film is only half of it. Maybe even less.
Before exposing a single image, filmmakers must finalize their script, establish their budget, establish a shooting schedule and choose their casting. After shooting, they still have to do the editing, mix the soundtrack and correct the color.
Filmmakers now have one place to do all that pre-and-post work: Phiphen Studios in Englewood Cliffs, described by its founders as “a state-of-the-art post-production and production office.”
“I grew up in Englewood,” says Jane Sinisi, general manager of Phiphen Studios. “My family has been in the real estate business here since the late 1960s. I’m very proud to be back in my hometown and doing business here, and being part of the NJ movie community.
“We also wanted to be in Jersey because of the fantastic incentives,” says COO Molly Conners. “Depending on where you shoot and the diversity of hiring, filmmakers can recoup up to 37% tax credit. And then the proximity to New York — we’re just across the GW Bridge — is great.
Adding a little extra Garden State flair to Phiphen Studios, their VP, Amanda Bowers, grew up in Montclair.
The facility, the first of its kind in the state, is meant to be a one-stop shop. Still in pre-production? Phiphen offers office spaces, conference rooms, kitchens, everything you need to brainstorm with your baby. In post-production? They have all the state-of-the-art technical equipment you need for editing, sound mixing and color grading.
What if you’re somewhere in between? You can always rewind in the middle of a shoot to project footage or rough-stitch a scene to see how it plays out.
One of the great things about the space is that it was set up for filmmakers, by filmmakers. As veteran producers, Sinisi and Conners have worked on a variety of projects, including Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” and Oscar-winning Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman.” Together they are currently working on the next Nicolas Cage epic, “Butcher’s Crossing”.
So they know what a filmmaker is looking for when working on a film. And they designed Phiphen Studios with that in mind.
“We made sure the layout is very user-friendly,” says Sinisi. “There is 10,000 square feet of space, the suites are well equipped, everything is very clean. There is a kind of soothing energy. I mean, you can actually go out and look at the trees, if you need a break.
“We’ve done a lot of movies, so we know comfort is key for filmmakers,” Conners adds. “We are not located deep in the state, it is easy to get to some places. And we worked closely with consultants to get the technical side right, so we had everything a client would need here.
For editing work, resources include Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, and Resolve. Sound mixing tools include Avid S4 and Dolby Atmos Services. Other tools include DaVinci Resolve for color grading and a lavish projection room for watching daily newspapers.
The partners derive some satisfaction from locating their headquarters in New Jersey, where Thomas Edison’s Black Maria film studio once produced flickers in West Orange, and where silent comedies, westerns and cliffhangers were once filmed in Fort Lee. “That’s where it all started, really,” Sinisi says of the state’s movie history.
And they seem to come at the right time. The revival of New Jersey’s tax incentives for filmmakers has only boosted production. “There’s a ton of business,” Sinisi says.
“We’re officially opening this month, but we already have people working in our studio, and we’ve had a lot of interest from others,” Conners says. “There is a huge demand. Just a few years ago, I think there were 45 productions in the state. It has since tripled.
And while Phiphen Studios is brand new, its founders are already looking to the future.
“I would also like to have sound stages,” says Sinisi. “As producers, we love making movies, and we hope our experience, credibility and work ethic will show filmmakers that we know what we’re doing and draw them to Phiphen. There’s a lot going on in New Jersey and we want to be part of it.
For more information, visit phiphenstudios.com.
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