By GWEN OREL
Hundreds of people came and went at the three-hour launch of Montclair’s newest studio space, The Annex at 18 Label Studios, last Thursday, June 14.
Local politicians, including Mayor Robert Jackson, attended, as did Montclair Film’s Chairman of the Board and Founder Bob Feinberg, Montclair State University professor in the School of Communication and Media Steve McCarthy, and many local and out of town filmmakers.
The Annex is 11,000 square feet of studio and event space, with space for film and television production, offices, a kitchen, bar, club room and other amenities, and is an addition to the three studios across the street at 18 Label Studios. Danny Monico, president
of Montclair-based Scoundrel Films, which partnered with Bobbi Brown to create The Annex, said that many people in the film industry are looking for space to conduct interviews and create movies. Scoundrel Films will help manage and book the space.
The Annex, built by Steven Plofker local developer and spouse of Bobbi Brown, has been in the works for about a year. Luke Parker Bowles, Monico’s business partner and CEO of Scoundrel Films, said “Steven Plofker has a taste and vision unlike anyone you know. He has created the midtown of Montclair.”
Plofker also designed and built 18 Label Street Studios and Montclair Bread Company, on 16 Label St. “His aesthetic has really driven the midtown, which didn’t really exist. It was Bloomfield or it was Upper Montclair,” Parker Bowles said.
And if Gov. Phil Murphy fulfills his promises of tax incentives for filmmaking in New Jersey that he announced on the closing night of the Montclair Film Festival, “there will be a veritable tsunami of business. In six months, people are going to be scrambling to create studios,” Parker Bowles said.
On Saturday, May 5, Murphy told the Montclair Film Festival audience, “We have the artists. We have the art DNA. We have the film DNA. And so I will tell you, we’re committed, and I’m going to sign a law in the new few weeks that will give the financial incentives back to make movies again in New Jersey.”
Tax incentives under the bill could be as high as 35 percent for film projects, depending on where they are filmed, and how much the company spends and films in New Jersey.
Scoundrel has worked in many spaces in New Jersey, and worked with Plofker to make
sure that the spaces at 18 Label Street would be the best available, Parker Bowles said.“There’s a general sense, whenever we have crews out from New York, that they’re not under pressure.”
The new studios will also benefit Montclair Film, added Parker Bowles, who is also on the board of MFF. “Steven is giving free space to the Montclair Film Festival students, which is huge. He’s giving them a week for free, so that young new students can learn their art.”
There will likely be shows and events during MFF in the space as well. “If there is an artist playing at the Wellmont, we are going to have an after party here,” he said.
“Montclair is so ripe with artists. It makes sense,” Monico said. “Everyone freelances. Everyone is around here. People shouldn’t have to trek in to New York to shoot, at expensive costs. I think we’re really trying to create a community.”
“I believe we were the first ones to shoot in The Annex,” said Brandon Roots, a filmmaker from Brooklyn. Roots made a stop-motion, animation-branded piece for the company TransferWise, which facilitates international money transfers. “There’s a lack of production spaces in New Jersey and this area, and this space really fills that need,” Roots said.