Syracuse, NY is a top destination for film, television and commercial production. More than $30 million in production budgets was brought to Onondaga County in 2022. According to New York State Television and Film Office, 70% of production budgets stay in communities where filming occurs. This includes money that is spent at local restaurants, hotels, shops, as well as on local talent wages. Now, a local organization is helping boost that local talent pool.

WCNY, the Educational Television Council of Central New York, launched a 14-week Entertainment Academy in 2023. The academy provides training for television and film production engineers, electricians, set designers, sound mixers, and camera operators. Graduates from this program will gain a pathway for job placement through local unions, including I.A.T.S.E. Local 52 and Motion Picture Studio Mechanics which will help boost the local film industry.

“The Entertainment Academy was the brainchild of Carol Opee-Stelios here at WCNY, and at the beginning of 2023, she and the rest of WCNY brought in I.A.T.S.E. Local 52, which is the union that covers most crew positions in the film industry in and around upstate New York, to help create an academy to start a more diverse, inclusive workforce that helped lift people ages 25 to 39 into a better paying, better, all around, career,” said Mac Cushing, Head Instructor at the WCNY Entertainment Academy.

The inaugural graduation ceremony for the WCNY Entertainment Academy in December 2023 featured keynote speakers including WCNY Entertainment Academy Advisory Council member and Visit Syracuse VP of Film, TV & Entertainment, Eric Vinal.

Vinal said, “The WCNY Entertainment Academy is so exciting to us at the Visit Syracuse Film Office because it will provide our infrastructure with professionally trained, talented and driven individuals who are not only interested in film, TV and the arts, but more importantly, being a part of these industries right here in Syracuse. This program will allow us to market our region on a global scale more aggressively as we will have more diverse crew members to handle more productions. This is a game changer for everyone involved and I have no doubt that we will see the benefit and impact in short order. At the end of the day, without crew, we have nothing, but with them, the sky is the limit."