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Jillian Fisher Location Scout

We Are Upstate NY with Location Scout Jillian Fisher

During the last few years, the Hudson Valley has become an increasingly popular location for shooting film and TV shows. To find just the right location requires someone with extensive knowledge of the area—the varying natural scenery, architectural options and handy film resources. For an increasing number of films and TV shows, that knowledgable person is Woodstock resident Jillian Fisher, who runs Jillian Fisher Productions.

To Fisher, the Hudson Valley is a dream location for the movie and TV industry, because it’s so rich in possibilities. Her knowledge of the area and enthusiasm for its cinematic future makes her a sought-after location scout.  In the past two years, she has scouted locations for a half dozen films and TV series being shot in the region, including I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Resurrection, The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student, and What Breaks The Ice.

Let’s go behind the scenes to capture a glimpse of Jillian’s world as a successful location scout and a proud resident of Upstate NY.

Movie I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Jillian Fisher location scout for film I’m Thinking of Ending Things

INSIDE+OUT: Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in the Hudson Valley – Woodstock specifically?

Jillian Fisher: My parents moved up here in the early 1970s, they didn’t want to raise their children in the city. When my husband and I were looking to settle down in the mid-nineties we returned home. I grew up in Kingston and my husband in Woodstock, his family has been here for at least five generations. This area has everything we were looking for elsewhere plus the biggest draw, family.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a location scout and how did you get your start?

About a decade ago I had an eponymous boutique public relations company and the City of Kingston was one of my clients. A movie Location Manager called and said they would be filming their movie either just outside of NYC or maybe somewhere Upstate. I asked her to please tell me about the movie; as she did I filmed it in my mind. She and the Director came up and I nailed every location. Also, unbeknownst to them, I pre-negotiated their hotel rate. Not only did they film here, but they also called their fictitious town in the movie, Kingston (The Sisterhood of Night). The following year I did the same with another movie I brought to Kingston (Cold in July); it was then I realized that I enjoyed doing that more. They were the first movies to film here in succession and ushered in what was to come.

Jillian Fisher

Jillian Stuart and Mary Stuart Masterson

What qualities do you need to be a good location scout?

I’m an incredibly detail-oriented person. When I’m reading a script, that quality matters. When I’m in the field, that quality matters. I take pride in understanding the Director’s vision beginning on page one of a script and then helping that vision come to life. But I also care about the locations and the owners of where the productions will be filmed. I’ll never b.s. a location just to have a movie/show/commercial film there. I am as open as possible with the details so they are not caught off guard during the process. Having something filmed in your home/business/property etc. can be disruptive, but it can also be a lot of fun if you’re prepared.

Tell us about your favorite job to date and the most challenging.

I’ve had quite a few favorite jobs. For one movie I created a cross-country road trip within a total radius of about twenty miles in Ulster County. The Director was in my car for about two weeks and we had a blast. Business-wise, a recent challenge (and one I’m most proud of) is a movie I brought to New York from California. For that film, in addition to understanding the Director’s vision, I had to negotiate a deal so stellar that an entire production was convinced to move across the country. I negotiate fees all the time, but having an entire production versus a specific location hang in the balance was different. There was no way I wasn’t going to get that movie here.

Film poster for what breaks the ice

Jillian Fisher Location Scout for What Breaks the Ice

What is the biggest misconception about your work?

I’m not sure if folks understand all the intricacies involved in both finding, as well as securing the locations.

How do you grow your business and how do your clients find you?

I work word-of-mouth only–I’ve been recommended for every project I’ve been affiliated with.

Tell us what you think about the filmmaking scene in Hudson Valley.

I’ve been telling people for over a decade, and it still holds true, that movies filmed in an area are great for economic development. They showcase the area on the screen, sleep in our hotels, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and genuinely fall in love with our neck of the woods. In a relatively short amount of time productions have the ability to infuse large amounts of money into our commerce. And as long as they are respectful to the locals, I think it’s a symbiotic relationship.

“For the movie location industry, the Hudson Valley is a dream…That being said, more and more productions are understanding the intrinsic beauty of the Hudson Valley and that as a location it stands on its own”

What is it about the Hudson Valley that makes it unique to live + work here?

For the movie location industry, the Hudson Valley is a dream. Our ability to transform and morph into other places has always given us an edge. As I mentioned previously, it allows for the creation of different parts of the country in one manageable area. For one film my attention to detail even allowed me to create India in a very small portion of Kingston. That being said, more and more productions are understanding the intrinsic beauty of the Hudson Valley and that as a location it stands on its own.

What impact does your business have on your community?

From the early 2010s with the first movie I brought here, everyone fell in love with the area and the people. When that production left and the cast and crew went their separate ways, everyone told their friends, family and colleagues about Kingston. That brought the next movie and the following one. Word-of-mouth is the best way to forge a business, and actions speak louder than words.

still from movie The Secret Diary of an Exchange Studenr
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?

I rely on everyone to be successful. Nothing is created in a vacuum and I take my community and the relationships within it very seriously. At the same time, they rely on me to be open and honest when I bring in a project. I’m allowed leeway as a local that quite truthfully “outsiders” are not. I don’t take that for granted. I’m also happy to be a resource for folks as well.

Who or what inspires you?

My daughters inspire and impress me to no end. They are incredibly intelligent, talented, kind and funny. I love seeing the world through, as well as, with them. I’m also inspired by nature. I’ve been known to be heading home and turned around just to chase a sunset.

Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to know.

There are a couple of decades worth of music I can name in one note.

What would be your dream local Staycation?

Mohonk Mountain House. My husband and I were married there almost thirty years ago. Although it’s only a half hour away, when one is on the property, one is a world away (but I’ve only ever stayed in the CBT).

What is your current state of mind?

Zen.

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