Reeves' company to get free space for film work
by Brian Meyer
Actor Keanu Reeves' company will be given free space in a downtown building owned by a city development agency to accommodate preproduction work on a new film that will be shot in Buffalo.
Reeves will be allowed to use vacant space in the Market Arcade at 617 Main St. rent-free for three months. His production company also will have access to a vacant apartment in the Market Arcade that will be used to store and clean wardrobes.
The Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. approved an incentive that is valued at around $30,000 at a meeting today. E.J. Walton, the agency's chief financial officer, said film crews can perform preproduction work virtually anywhere. He said the costs of providing "modest accommodations" for preproduction of the romantic comedy "Henry's Crime" would be more than offset by what crews will spend on lodging, catering, labor and materials.
"This is an exciting opportunity for the city," Walton said.
BERC Interim President Dennis M. Penman thinks temporarily using long-empty office space on the third floor of the historic structure in the Theater District makes economic sense.
"When you talk about 40 or 50 production people spending 90-plus room nights in Buffalo, taking their meals out in local restaurants, and so on, I think the cost-benefit analysis on that really plays to help downtown business owners," Penman said.
Agency officials said it's possible the free rent could be extended for a bit longer than 90 days if crews need more time, but Walton doubts that will happen, noting that producers typically watch their preproduction budgets carefully. Adam S. Walters, a BERC board member, said if the agency suddenly finds a tenant for the vacant space, the arrangement with the production company would have to terminate after three months.
The city was approached by Buffalo Niagara Film Commissioner Tim Clark about providing some incentives to the production company.
Reeves has been spotted throughout the Buffalo area scouting locations for "Henry's Crime." The film will be the first production for Company Films, which Reeves co-runs, according to Variety, an entertainment industry trade publication.
Preproduction work includes site selection, business agreements and other tasks that must be performed before crews begin shooting scenes. Walton said he expects Company Films to move into the downtown space sometime in October.