ATLANTIC CITY — The city that served as the setting of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” could be getting more time on screen.
Three filmmakers are seeing Atlantic City as an attractive place to set their movies or TV series because of the city’s amount of space, locations to shoot at and the recently implemented New Jersey Film Tax Credit.
Stephanie Ryan-Showell, president of Pleasantville-based Weist-Barron-Ryan Casting, hinted at more blockbuster projects coming to Atlantic City, saying at least two other films with $200 million-plus budgets are considering the area.
The state Department of Community Affairs is excited to see that the resort is attracting more interest from the film industry, which can be beneficial to the local economy, said Gina Trish, a department spokeswoman. The DCA has fiscal oversight of the city.
“Atlantic City is filled with hundreds of recognizable attractions, beautiful beaches, and a talented workforce, and welcomes the film industry to respectfully do business in the city,” Trish said.
An upcoming Netflix movie, “Army of the Dead,” starring Dave Bautista and directed by “300” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” director Zack Snyder, will film in Atlantic City in September, according to a post on social media by Heery-Loftus Casting.
The upcoming television series “48 Blocks” is being produced by Dina Engel and Sherry McCracken of Little Rock Films and would be set almost entirely in Atlantic City.
The series, being pitched as “The Wire” meets “This Is Us,” is a story about power and politics that at its heart features a journey of personal discovery, they said.
Both Engel and McCracken thought the city would be perfect for their six-episode project because of its “yin and yang” element where glitz and glamour intersect with a community that has faced serious challenges.
“When I saw Atlantic City for the first time, I thought, this is an empty canvas,” McCracken said.
The duo moved from Philadelphia to Ventnor about six years ago, with the goal of using South Jersey as their home base for creating and developing their projects.
“Places like New York, Chicago and other big cities have their own series, so why not Atlantic City?” Engel said.
Meanwhile, a small, independent movie has already finished shooting its principal photography in the resort.
“The Atlantic City Story” is a full-length feature film written and directed by Henry Butash, of Manhattan, New York, and produced by Javier Gonzalez, of Brooklyn, New York.
The movie, which filmed over the winter in Atlantic City, tells the tale of an unhappily married mother who runs away from her husband and heads to the resort, where she meets a young gambler.
The film features familiar sights such as the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Steel Pier and White House Sub Shop along with Resorts Casino Hotel and Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
Gonzalez and Butash were complimentary of Heather Colache, Atlantic City Film Commission director, for putting them in touch with the venue owners and managers they needed to receive permission to film on their properties.
Butash wrote the script last year and took at least five four-day trips to the resort. The writer-director said he became so immersed in the area that some of the dialogue he overheard in the casinos was included in his script.
Both Engel and McCracken and Butash and Gonzalez cited the New Jersey Film Tax Credit as a huge incentive for bringing their projects to Atlantic City.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Film Tax Credit into law last summer. The legislation provides a tax credit of 30% for qualified film production expenses. To be eligible, a film must spend at least 60% of its total budget through vendors authorized to do business in New Jersey or spend more than $1 million in qualified expenses in New Jersey.
“We always wanted to do a project like this in New Jersey, and now we can because of the tax credit,” McCracken said.
According to Gonzalez, the tax credits saved the filmmakers $50,000 in the making of “The Atlantic City Story.”
Ryan-Showell said the only thing missing in Atlantic City for filmmaking is enough trained local actors, so that production companies do not have to bus in actors from Philadelphia and New York and pay for their expenses.
Engel and McCracken said they hope their work will demonstrate that Atlantic City is a desirable location to produce movies and TV shows in, which could bring new jobs and sources of income to the city.
“There’s so much space here, and we’re close to New York,” said McCracken. “We want to try to show a project like this can have success in Atlantic City, and bring the next generation of filmmakers to Atlantic City.”