A handful of years ago, Woody Allen did something none of us expected: He left New York and headed for Europe for his next film, and one turned into many. Match Point. Scoop. Cassandra's Dream. Vicky Cristina Barcelona. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Midnight in Paris. He's talked about making cinematic love letters to Barcelona, and since his only Manhattan-centric piece since the move was the easily forgettable Whatever Works, it looked like his Big Apple love affair was over.

But now it looks like disinterest, or a yearning for new surroundings, was not behind the move. The reasons were a lot more practical and have nothing to do with decreasing allure. New York is just too darned expensive.
Deadline reports that Allen has told journalists in Madrid that he set off for Europe because making films in New York is too expensive for him. The site muses that some of the New York film community's feelings are "undoubtedly bruised," but an unnamed source who has worked for the director says: "I don't think Woody's trying to give the city a face slap. This is more than ever a bottom line business." The source goes on to note the exorbitant prices in Manhattan, where $250 becomes $2000, and "you can see that filming in New York could add $5 million to Woody's budget."

It would be rather ludicrous to blame a man for going where he can find funding to make his art. There's no one who's expressed as much love for New York for as long as Allen has. His films are overflowing with passion for his home turf. But money became harder for the filmmaker to procure, and he headed to Europe where he found private funding and greater monetary ease. Though a loss, indeed, for Manhattan, it's been a blessing for his work, producing some of his best fare in years.

But it's more than money. It's not hard to see Allen's leave as a metaphor for New York, a city that's been cleaned up and offered to those with the most money and connections. Gone are the graffiti-littered subways, in are the glitz of Times Square and big studio features.

Though small-scale productions might be struggling, enough to send the city's most iconic filmmaker elsewhere, studios are loving the town, where tax incentives make the city a prime film locale making way for types like Brett Ratner: "When you have a big budget film, you're getting a huge tax rebate and that made it more affordable compared to Toronto. The bigger the film, the more you're going to save. The New York crews are in my opinion some of the best, because they grew up working for Woody, Joel and Ethan Coen, Marty Scorsese and Spike Lee. New York becomes a character in any movie and the rebate made it so reasonable that we're shooting 100% of the film here and doing all of the post-production in New York."

Just as Times Square became a mecca for big TV stations and advertising, so has the city to the biggest of Hollywood's films. It's eerie to think of Ratner picking up the talent fostered by Allen, the Coens, Scorsese, and Lee, and certainly makes one wonder what will happen in the next thirty years as that talent retires...

What do you think of the changes to New York filmmaking? Is this a change you're happy with, or does it leave you reminiscing about the good old days?
categories Movies, Cinematical