Stockade Works Gears up for a New Season of Training in the Hudson Valley | Film | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Stockade Works Gears up for a New Season of Training in the Hudson Valley
Charles Merrihew

Hudson Valley residents know that they’re liable to run into celebrities. Films and TV shows have been shooting here more and more, bringing with them plenty of big name actors (Mark Ruffalo, Christopher Walken, and Michael Cera, to name a few). If there was ever a time to break into the business, this is it. According to the Hudson Valley Film Commission, 631 locals were hired to work on Hudson Valley sets in 2021, and spending reached around $58 million. As productions continue to flock here, the pool of crew members needs to expand. That’s where Stockade Works comes in.

Cofounded in 2016 by Beth Davenport and actor Mary Stuart Masterson, Stockade Works provides training to Hudson Valley residents looking to work on these productions, in varying capacities. Past programs include budgeting for film and television, production accounting, and costume and wardrobe. Stockade Works offers full and partial scholarships, ensuring that no one is turned away based on their ability to pay. This spring, Stockade Works hired a new executive director, Susie Sofranko, former senior director of development at the International Center of Photography. Sofranko was one of many who made the move from the city to the Hudson Valley at the start of the pandemic. But for the West Shokan native, it was a homecoming.

“My parents actually met working on a film that was shooting in Catskill,” she says. Even as a city dweller, Sofranko never lost her upstate connections. She discovered Stockade Works through her friends in the area. Stockade works was looking for a new executive director just as Sofranko was looking for an upstate career.

Spring Programming

Stockade Works’s most comprehensive program this spring is a three-and-a-half day crew bootcamp. The boot camp allows participants to take part in every aspect of production, from camera operation to script supervision. The training culminates in a mock-shoot on the final day, with real actors, scripts, and wardrobe. Sure, a participant may be able to work a camera by the end of boot camp, but the final shoot ensures they have a basic understanding of what working on set is like. This year’s boot camp will take place May 19-22. Applications are due on April 18, and its location will be announced soon. Graduates of last summer's boot camp were hired to work on the Pretty Little Liars shoot in Saugerties within two months, according to Sofranko.

Another program offered this spring will be focused on hair and makeup. This training will be held at Le Shag in Kingston and led by the salon’s owner, Jennifer Donovan. Stockade Works will also bring stylists in to focus on hair and makeup for different skin tones and hair types to ensure all perspectives are represented. The 3.5 day program will take place on March 25-27. On May 22, participants will team up with boot camp trainees on the mock-shoot. Applications are due March 11.

click to enlarge Stockade Works Gears up for a New Season of Training in the Hudson Valley
Charles Merrihew

Future Plans

Sofranko wants to focus on spreading the word of these employment opportunities in the Hudson Valley. “I want to let young people know if they can’t go away to school, there’s these really meaningful, sustainable jobs right here,” she says. This includes teaming up with community partners like Ulster BOCES.

“We’re a next step for people in a program like BOCES, where they can get additional training and be opened up to these career opportunities,” says Sofranko.

There are also plans to team up with industry professionals to create a formalized mentorship program.

“Mentorships are how the industry works,” says Sofranko. “You could be a production assistant on a set and learn from someone in a different department, then they might hire you to come with them to their next shoot. It’s a very word of mouth industry.” Stockade Works is also considering adding intermediate and advanced workshops, so graduates can come back and learn even more.

“We’re really just trying to scale everything up to meet the demands,” Sofranko says. The Hudson Valley Film Commission says 2022 productions have hit the ground running, with around half a dozen projects already in consideration as of February. Stockade Works graduates will have plenty of chances to put their training to use.

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