For a director, shooting the movie is only half of it. Maybe even less.
Before they expose a single frame, filmmakers have to finalize their script, work out their budget, set a shooting schedule and choose their cast. After the shoot, they still have to do the editing, mix the soundtrack and correct the color.
Filmmakers now have a single place to do all that before-and-after work: Phiphen Studios in Englewood Cliffs, described by its female founders as “a boutique state-of-the-art post-production and production office facility.”
“I grew up in Englewood,” says Phiphen Studios chief executive officer Jane Sinisi. “My family has been in the real estate business here since the late ’60s. I’m very proud to be back in my home town and doing business here, and being part of the NJ film community.”
“We also wanted to be in Jersey because of the fantastic incentives,” says chief operating officer Molly Conners. “Depending on where you shoot, and diversity hiring, filmmakers can get back as much as a 37 percent tax credit. And then the proximity to New York — we’re just over the GW Bridge – is terrific.”
The facility, the first of its kind in the state, is meant to be a one-stop shop. Still in pre-production? Phiphen offers office space, conference rooms, kitchens, everything you need to brainstorm your baby. In post-production? They have all the top-notch technical equipment you need for editing, sound mixing and color grading.
And if you’re somewhere in between? You can always run back in the middle of a shoot to screen some footage, or do a rough assembly of a scene to see how it plays.
One of the space’s great advantages is that it was put together for filmmakers, by filmmakers. As veteran producers, Sinisi and Conners have worked on a variety of projects, including Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning “Birdman.” Together, they are currently toiling on the upcoming Nicolas Cage epic, “Butcher’s Crossing.”
So they know what a filmmaker is looking for when working on a film. And they designed Phiphen Studios with that in mind.
“We made sure the layout is very friendly,” Sinisi says. “There’s 10,000 square feet of space, the suites are well equipped, everything is very clean. There’s a calming kind of energy. I mean, you can actually go outside and look at the trees, if you need a break.”
“We’ve made a lot of movies, so we know that comfort is a key thing for filmmakers,” Conners adds. “We’re not located deep into the state, it’s easy to get to places. And we worked very closely with consultants to get the technical side right, so that we have anything a client would need right here.”
For editing work, resources include Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere and Resolve. Sound mixing tools include Avid S4 and Dolby Atmos Services. Other tools include DaVinci Resolve for color grading, and a plush screening room for watching dailies.
The partners take some satisfaction in headquartering their business in New Jersey, where Thomas Edison’s Black Maria film studio once churned out flickers in West Orange, and silent comedies, Westerns and cliff-hangers were once shot in Fort Lee. “It’s where everything originated, really,” Sinisi says of the state’s cinema history.
And they seem to be coming along at just the right time. The revival of New Jersey’s tax incentives for filmmakers has only spurred production. “There’s a ton of business,” Sinisi says.
“We officially open this month but we already have some folks working in our studio, and we’ve gotten a lot of interest from others,” Conners says. “There’s a huge demand. Just a few years ago, I think there were 45 productions in the state. It’s tripled since then.”
And while Phiphen Studios is brand new, its founders are already looking ahead.
“I’d love to eventually have soundstages, too,” says Sinisi. “As producers, we just love making films, and we’re hoping our experience and our credibility and our work ethic will show filmmakers that we know what we’re doing and attract them to Phiphen. There’s a lot going on in New Jersey and we want to be part of it.”
For more information, visit phiphenstudios.com.
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