As a major motion-picture industry in the U.S., when people think of their favorite movies, they often think of Hollywood. But, this wasn’t always the case. In the 19th century, Thomas Edison and his friends invented the motion picture camera and film projector––not in California––but in West Orange, New Jersey. The filmmaking industry flourished, marking the Garden State as the “Film Capital of the World.” Revamping its reputation, the state celebrated the grand opening of Cinelease Studios in Jersey City’s Caven Point, the largest film studio in NJ on Aug. 6, bringing major productions back to their birthplace.
About Cinelease Studios
Cinelease Studio is a division of studio management. It provides production companies with cost-effective technology and spaces for small and large-scale content creation. Its newest studio, which opened in Caven Point, NJ, is the state’s first-ever purpose-built studio, created specifically for major motion pictures.
Its warehouse was purchased for nearly $17 million and converted into more than five acres of space for filmmaking. The studios’ resources and management are exactly what New Jersey needs to dive back into the industry.
Cinelease hosts a variety of features for production companies to use in the new warehouse. They offer 40-foot high ceilings, 70,000 square feet of sound stages without obstruction from columns, several offices, and 40,000 feet of offsite space on the nearby Theodore Conrad Drive. The studio also offers the largest lighting inventory in the U.S., along with various truck packages, grip equipment and Herc rentals. Between state-of-the-art technology and large capacity, it’s able to support major productions.
Its goal is to create two to four major television and movie productions each year, reinstating the Garden State’s reputation for filmmaking.
The Grand Opening of the Largest Film Studio in New Jersey
To celebrate the historic move, Governor Phil Murphy attended their grand opening ceremony. There, they revealed the industrial warehouse’s conversion into the massive studio.
Murphy commented about its reveal in the Office of the Governor’s press release, “When we reinstated the film tax credit in 2018 and expanded it late last year, this is exactly the type of project we envisioned. New Jersey is where filmmaking began, and we are quickly regaining the reputation as a premier location for both film and television production.”
From janitors to film technicians––even including caterers to the studio––Cinelease will provide jobs for hundreds of workers each year. The move opens opportunities for locals and neighboring New Yorkers hoping to contribute to film productions in New Jersey.
Cinelease Studios will also bring increased revenue to the state. In 2019, an estimated $420 million dollars were made from film productions in the Garden State. With this grand opening, that number is expected to increase dramatically through the estimated number of motion-picture productions.
In their press release, Cinelease Studios’ General Manager, Gannon Murphy, spoke on its benefits to New Jersey. “Cinelease Studios, Caven Point is positioned to begin a new era in New Jersey-based filmmaking, providing permanent opportunities in the state of New Jersey.”
Governor Murphy cut the ribbon. He stated how this kind of production facility was exactly what he intended through the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act. With more revenue and job opportunities, Cinelease brings filming back to the state with new possibilities.
A Brief History of Filmmaking in New Jersey
The magic of motion-picture productions began in West Orange, NJ. In the 1890s, Thomas Edison and his friends collaborated in his laboratory with the hopes of inventing a camera that could capture motion, rather than still images. Eventually, in 1891, he created the kinetoscope and kinetograph. The kinetograph captured motion while the kinetoscope let individuals peep through a viewing hole and watch the film progress. It used a spool, film strips, and a shutter.
After his initial inventions, Edison’s filmmaking took off. Fort Lee, NJ became the primary site for motion pictures, drawing attention nationwide. He produced films such as “Black Maria,” establishing his own company and bringing forth every aspect of life in suburban New Jersey.
Filmmaking later spread to California. By 1911, Universal Studios and other major production companies began sweeping the nation, dwindling New Jersey’s contributions and success.
As the birthplace of filmmaking, New Jersey’s grand opening of Cinelease Studios is even more exciting and significant. Jobs for aspiring technicians, artists, and interested locals will reestablish the Garden State’s involvement in cinema. And, once again, movies and television can return to reflecting the beauty and culture of the state.
Featured image courtesy of Cinelease Studios
What movies and shows would you like filmed in New Jersey? Let us know in the comments!