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Lights, camera, Parksville?

Heather Litteer, aka “Miss Beaverkill” posed with Studio Head RJ Baker on the massive sound stage as guests filtered in to the launch party in Parksville, NY.
TRR photos by Jonathan Charles Fox


September 30, 2015

An unlikely combination of words on the page to be sure, and yet… there they are. Although the Upper Delaware River region is hardly a stranger to filmmaking, I’ve never really considered the Catskills a movie-making Mecca. It’s no secret that there have been films featuring the region, while directors and cinematographers have long considered our neck of the woods an ideal location to shoot their movies because of the natural beauty that abounds and the rich history that reverberates. First and foremost “Dirty Dancing” springs to mind. The cinematic homage to the Borscht Belt and its denizens instantly captures the golden age of resort vacationing, when visitors flocked to the mountains to relax, enjoy everything that the area has to offer, and (for that film, anyhow) dance. Since its debut in 1987, “Dancing” has grossed more than $200 million worldwide and has a special place in the hearts of film buffs across the globe.

Sadly, the resort that inspired “Dirty Dancing” burned to the ground in 2012, in what may have been the “largest fire in Catskills history” (www.gothamist.com), but Kellermans (formerly Browns Hotel) will live on in our hearts forever, thanks to Patrick Swayze romancing Jennifer Grey on the silver screen. There are other examples, including “Manny & Lo,” “Tootsie” and “You Can Count on Me,” to name a few, that have either been filmed here or have plot lines centered on the mountains. But until now, the crews have come and gone, making their mark, but hardly calling the Catskills home. I don’t expect (or desire) Sullivan County to become the next Hollywood, but it’s kind of cool (IMHO) that since 2005 RJ Baker has had a dream to create movie magic here, and as of last weekend, his dream is on its way to becoming a reality (see also story on page 5).