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Industry Star of the Month

Gretchen McGowan, HDNet Films/Open City Films

Gretchen McGowan September 1, 2006 - Gretchen McGowan, head of production at HDNet/Open City Films, breaks the mold of a traditional studio production chief. McGowan is currently shifting gears between all aspects of production on 22 different projects. But she's not complaining! McGowan relishes in keeping herself involved in all facets of HDNet/Open City. “I get impatient working one specific angle of any production,” says McGowan. “We're a small company, so I get to wear many hats.”

Whatever HDNet/Open City projects lack in size, however, the company more than makes up for it in its significance. HDNet/Open City, created by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner along with Jason Kliot and Joana Vicente in November 2003 (and based here in New York), shoots all projects in high definition. That offers unique challenges for McGowan.

“It's both easier and harder at the same time,” she explains. “You can get your movie in the can for less money. Also, I find that directors who screen for an audience at a festival can choose to make changes, whereas it would be prohibitive in another format. There are newer and better formats coming out each month, so that can be challenging. But whereas five years ago it was intimidating, now it's attractive.”

In addition to being drawn to both the attractions and trials of shooting in high-def, McGowan is attracted to New York as a film location. The company produced five narrative features last year, four of which were shot in the New York City area: The Architect; along with Diggers, a period piece taking place in the 1970's, which takes a look at the lives of hard-living clamdiggers and the changes swirling around them; Fay Grim, starring Parker Posey, a film revolving around a single mother whose runaway ex-husband may not be everything she thought he was; and Quid Pro Quo, starring Nick Stahl as a wheelchair bound NPR personality, and Vera Farmiga as the able-bodied woman who develops a relationship with him.

"We were able to use the tax rebate program. It was exciting. We now have fun exploring new areas of New York, locations you don't see in every New York movie,” says McGowan. “That can be tricky, but we've discovered the borough of Staten Island, [and] we've tried to work in Queens and Brooklyn whenever possible.”

The local crews also add to New York's appeal. McGowan, for all of the work she's done in the city, has found that “New York production crews are sophisticated. Every New York technician sort of has another story…they're not just a technician, they have another skill set. Like every New Yorker there are lots of layers there.” She is a bit partial, however, because, as she pointedly remarks, “I'm married to an IATSE member.”

McGowan has just as much praise for her co-workers at HDNet/Open City. “We've pulled together a really fantastic team at HDNet films. We have an exciting slate for next year - some projects that will push the limit with regards to visual effects and with regards to budget cap.” It would be understandable that dealing with the intricacies of HD combined with a growing budget may intimidate McGowan. But she shrugs it off. “That's the one thing that shooting in HD has taught us,” says McGowan. “There's always something new to learn.”


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

2012
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


2011
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


2010
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


2009
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


2008
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


2007
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


2006
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


2005
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


2004
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