Industry Star of the Month

Monty Ross, 40 Acres and a Mule

Monty Ross February 1, 2006 - Monty Ross, Spike Lee’s co-producer on such groundbreaking “Made in NY” productions as School Daze, She’s Gotta Have it, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X and Crooklyn, started his career with the Atlanta Street Theatre, a small resident theatre company in Atlanta, Georgia. He moved to New York City to pursue his career in 1985, quickly partnering with Lee on She’s Gotta Have It, the film shot in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn which he credits with launching his career. Over the past 20 years, his roles at 40 Acres and a Mule Productions have been multi-faceted, from Production Assistant to Vice President of Production; in 1991, Ross even starred in the film Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop. While co-producing a film each year, he has also worked on advertising campaigns for brands such as Nike’s Air Jordans and Levi’s 501 campaign, as well as music videos for artists such as Stevie Wonder and Prince. Most recently, he worked on the New York City production Inside Man, starring Denzel Washington, Clive Own and Jodie Foster, which will release in theatres next month.

Currently, Ross serves as 40 Acres’ Special Projects Coordinator, a role which allows him to coordinate the company’s community outreach including its internship program, through which 40 Acres stages a “Boot Camp” providing a week of training and networking opportunities, and then places interns in various departments during the production of each of its films. Ross is also acting as a consultant during the development of the City’s training program for Production Assistants, a new initiative that will connect New Yorkers with entry-level jobs in the industry.

Ross credits the City’s energy with helping him to persevere in his early days as a filmmaker. “There is a basic New York mentality that with hard work, drive and skill, you can achieve your goals – it is an overall feeling that anyone can succeed,” he said. “And to help us achieve our goals we received such support from the industry and New Yorkers in general.”

For Ross, the City’s crews are its most attractive feature to filmmakers. “The crews here are really dedicated to their craft,” he said. “They are very focused on getting through the shoot days, and they do it in a cooperative manner.”

Ross says New York’s crews are complemented by the locations throughout diverse neighborhoods and acting community. “Everyone is here, from Broadway stars to Hollywood veterans to rising talent,” he said.

Ross and Lee imbue their films with an appreciation for the art of making movies and carry on the tradition of great New York filmmakers. Before producing Inside Man, they screened films such as Manhattan and Dog Day Afternoon to get a feel for the history of moviemaking in this City and the impact that great New York films have made.

And Ross said the cooperation the company received from local communities – particularly the residents and local businesses on Wall Street – allowed them to shoot the film here in the City. “I think New York will be proud of what we did in this film,” he said.

For individuals interested in breaking into the industry, Ross recommends first educating themselves about the various roles and responsibilities within the field. “The sky is the limit, and it all depends on your perspective,” he said. “The industry is vast with great opportunities. But before you begin your journey ask yourself this question: What is that you would like to contribute to the industry to make it better?”

Industry Star

Margarita Acevedo, Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
John Battista, Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
Tom Reidy, Madison Square Park
Steven Holtzman, Canal Creatures Productions

Jennifer Lenihan, Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
Lynne Meadow, Manhattan Theatre Club
Thomas O'Donnell, Local 817
Katy Finch, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
Meredith Conti, Grand Central Terminal

Gino Lucci, Picture Cars East
Habibah Ali-Love, OFTB
McCord Fitzsimmons, Former OFTB Intern
Lis Pearson, New York Public Library
Veronica Miles, EcoSet
Lisa Rubin, Hudson River Park Trust
Mari Jo Winkler, PGA Green
Michael Super, Coney Island, Parks and Recreational Manager
Caroline Stephenson, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Lisa Lucas, Tribeca Film Institute

Harriet Taub, Material for the Arts
David Moy, OFTB
Fred Cerullo, Grand Central Partnership
Marge Feinberg, DOE
Nate Grove, Marinas
Frank Gribbon, FDNY
Jeffrey Sangrund, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Javonne Parker, Staten Island Ferry
Justin Green, Build It Green! NYC
Tom Ross, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"
Eric Peterson, Randall's Island
Connie Fitzgerald, Department of Environmental Protection

Joey Violante, Technicolor
Stephanie Argamaso, OFTB
Vito Turso, DSNY
Elizabeth Rapuano, Governor's Island
Estelle Cooper, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Alvah Holmes, Former MOFTB Intern
Dana Kuznetzkoff, Line Producer
Eva Radke, Film Biz Recycling
Karen Meyerhoff, Guggenheim
Meredith Rothstein, Roseland Ballroom
Charlotte St. Martin, The Broadway League

The Artists Company
Celina Sze, OFTB
Sharon Jensen, The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts
Terence Gray, New York Television Festival
Sam Levy, Summer Play Festival
Wes French, General Services Administration
Tom Maiorano, Brooklyn Navy Yard
Joan Cooney, South Street Seaport
Jeannine Marotta, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation
Brooke Smy, Tishman Speyer
Elliott Kerman, Tax Credit Accountant

Matthew Kania, Assistant Location Manager
Lieutenant Joe Lassen, Movie/TV Unit
In Memoriam - Nancy Littlefield
Ivory Henderson-Robb, Department of Transportation
Jack Powers, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Robin Forst, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center
Kitty Preston, CUNY Locations
Liz Carollo, Greenmarket
Donna Masly, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Sean Jones, New York City Department of Corrections
Sheila Greene, NYCHA

Ralph Musolino, Parks and Recreation
Rick Cotton, NBC Universal
Joe Fontao, Location Manager
Gretchen McGowan, HDNet Films/Open City Films
Tim Tompkins, Times Square Alliance
Erika Feldman, Theatre Row
Vin Lenza, Staten Island Development Corporation
Tristan Assent, "Made in NY" PA
Denise Motta, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Terry Lawler, New York Women in Film and Television
Monty Ross, 40 Acres and a Mule

Pat White, Local 764
Michelle Byrd, Independent Feature Project
Matt Miller, AICP
Kyle McCarthy, MTA Metro-North
Jeannette Pinero, Department of Correction
Bambi Brook, Dawn Animal Agency
Andy Nagy, NYCHA
Juan Rosario, HPD
James J. Claffey, Jr., IATSE Local One
Mac Brown, Producer
Cheryl Hodge, VTU
Llewellyn Wells, Executive Producer
Lawrence Major, Parks and Recreation

Ken Konfong, Economic Development Corporation
Whoopi Goldberg, Actress/Producer
Caroline Baron, FilmAid International
Thomas O'Donnell Sr., Local 817
Drew Jiritano, Special Effects Coordinator
Carla Rajj, Location Manager
Al Cerullo, Film Pilot
James Lauer, FDNY
Dan Mercado, Parks and Recreation
Rebecca Seale, DCAS
Alberteen Anderson, MTA
Joseph Ellis, NYPD
Peter Basich, DOT
Richie Silverman, NYPD