A horror film in Syracuse was forced to suspend production halfway through filming due to a number of issues, including an actor’s injury and a crew member walking off set over a pay dispute.
“The Hermit,” starring former “The Incredible Hulk” actor and champion bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno, began shooting at a farm in South Onondaga in mid-August. Ferrigno plays a murderous, cannibalistic pig farmer who cooks people and makes them jerky.
Initially the enthusiasm was high. Ferrigno was named an honorary Syracuse police officer while in town and it was his first major role since a life-changing cochlear transplant last year. Local crew members were also looking forward to the project, which is the latest boom in filmmaking among more than 30 films shot in central New York over the past five years.
“Everyone was excited to do a horror movie in Syracuse,” Key Holder Mac Cushing told syracuse.com. Post-Standard.
But most of the crew was not paid after the first week of production, Cushing said. Halfway through the second week, a producer told her that the paycheck would be released bi-weekly, even though the crew members were expected to be paid weekly. When he threatened a walkout, the producers promised to fix it by next Monday or Tuesday, Cushing said.
Producer Gerry Pass attributed the threat to “rumours from union representatives” about the evidence of the deposit; He said, ‘The Hermit’ is a non-federal film.
According to Cushing, on Tuesday, August 30, the crew still hadn’t been paid, so they left the set. Filming stopped. Ferrigno and the others went home.
Near, line producer Kenneth Greenblatt and the Syracuse Film Office confirmed that production had ceased after the crew went on strike.
Near told syracuse.com | Post-standard that “almost everyone was paid” during the first two weeks and some have been paid through week three. Money troubles began when an investor who had promised $200,000 only provided a tenth of it — $20,000 — and was reported to the crew during the third week, according to Pass.
Pass said he put $150,000 out of his own pocket, but could do nothing more to stop what he called a “rebellion.”
Cushing said he owed about $4,000 between his personal labor and the rental of his company, Salt City Grip. He estimated that the 60-person crew still owed thousands of dollars, including reimbursement for fixed construction costs.
“We feel helpless because we feel there is no legal recourse,” Cushing said. “It will be more expensive to sue them than the amount we get back… It’s a terrible situation because if any of us produce this type, we’ll be arrested.”
Cushing, whose credits include the Jackie Robinson biopic ’42’ and more than a dozen other films shot in Nashville and New York City, said he moved back to his hometown of Syracuse in 2020 to join films locally. wanted. He started his own film grip company to provide camera support equipment and operate dollys, tripods and similar equipment, as well as a rental home for lighting equipment.
“We are aware of the situation and are trying to keep the lines of communication open with everyone involved,” said Eric Vinall, Vice President of Film, TV and Entertainment for Visit Syracuse.
Everyone agreed that it was rare in the film industry to stop production over money issues.
Vinal said it was his first time in eight years with the Syracuse Film Office. Cushing said he only heard of this happening in Nashville once during his nearly 20-year career. Pass said he never had a problem with his other films, including an executive producer credit on “Manodrome,” which was shot last winter in Syracuse with Jesse Eisenberg and Adrien Brody.
Four people associated with the “Manodrome” production told syracuse.com that there were delays in payments that led to the unionization of the crew. Two sources said production was put on hold for a while to negotiate, and all were eventually paid within two months of the film’s completion.
Paas told syracuse.com that he heard about concerns over a budget limit with the “Manodrome”, but said he was not involved in funding that project.
Cushing and Kyle Stack, a gaffer who provided lighting and electrical power for “The Hermit”, said the producers tried to blame others for non-payment.
“They claimed it was a payment processing problem,” Stack told syracuse.com.
The pass called “The Hermit” crew “ruff” and “whiny” while expressing disappointment about the non-financial delay. At times, heavy rains affected the shooting, Cushing said, while Pass revealed that two people involved with the film required medical treatment.
According to Pass, lead actress Malina Weisman, best known for playing Violet Baudelaire in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and a young Kara Zor-El on “Supergirl,” has got super glue in her eyes. A micro knife was needed and he lost his eyelashes, Pass said; She was not able to film the scenes for five days due to an injury.
Pass said director of photography David Wolfgang also had to go to the hospital to have his gallbladder removed.
Paas and Greenblatt said new funding is being raised with plans to return to Syracuse to finish ‘The Hermit’ in the fourth quarter of 2022. One issue is continuity: If the leaves change or winter weather approaches, it can significantly affect filming and editing. ,
Cushing praised Vinall for acting as a mediator between the two parties, but was not sure whether he would be involved in the rest of the production.
Stack, who said he has worked on about 20 films, including American High’s “Plan B” and “The Binge 2: It’s a Wonderful Binge”, suggested he would not work with Paas again.
Vinal said he hopes to find the best solution for everyone. He also expressed support for the film crew.
“We are the lifeblood of what we do,” Vinal told syracuse.com. “We have their backs.”
The release date of The Hermit, directed by Italian filmmaker Salvatore Sclafani, has not been announced.
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