The Pottersville Disaster
Pottersville (2017) is a low-budget comedy film about a small town that receives a major boost after a supposed bigfoot sighting. The movie was widely considered to be a massive failure at the box office, but who could have guessed that no one wanted to see a christmas movie about furries? Normally, Pottersville would have faded into obscurity like hundreds of movies before it. However, recent developments show that our very own SUNY Polytechnic Institute lost $750,000 after investing in the film. The fact that an institution without a film or theatre program would put so much money on the production of a low-budget comedy is baffelling, to say the least, so why did we?
Pottersville was produced by Ron Perlman and his newly created film studios, Wing & a Prayer Pictures. Before production began, Perlman made a deal with former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros. Dr. Kaloyeros promised to provide funding for Perlman’s movies, including Pottersville. In return, Wing & a Prayer Pictures would work with the CNY Film Hub to produce their movies. This agreement laid the foundation for Pottersville and many other of Perlman’s films.
CNY Film Hub was an initiative to bring more movie production companies into upstate New York. It was founded in 2014 by the Fort Schuyler Management Corporation (FSMC), a non-profit organization connected to SUNY Poly, most notable for constructing the NanoFab building on the Utica campus which sits abandoned to this day. Recently, it has come to light that FSMC lost $750,000 by attempting to invest CNY Film Hub and the creation of Pottersville. This amount is not including the $15 million spent to create the CNY Film Hub itself. However, all of the wasted money would be offset if the CNY Film Hub and FSMC managed to do some good and raise money for our school or bring jobs to upstate New York, right?
If only that were the case…
According to public records, three of the executives who built CNY Film Hub faced charges related to bid-rigging and corruption. This includes SUNY Poly’s former president Dr. Kaloyeros, who had been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison. CNY Film Hub had managed to create 2 jobs instead of the 500 that were promised. The hub was sold to a corporation run by Onondaga County in the summer of 2018 for $1. Not one million, or one thousand, but one dollar. It seems that the deeper you look into the travesty of Pottersville, the worse the situation around it seems to get.
So why did a non-profit connected to SUNY Poly spend $750,000 on a low-budget comedy film? The intention was to invest in the film and bring in more money than was spent, while also kick-starting the film industry in upstate New York. However, the investment never made a return and the jobs never came. As for Pottersville, I would personally call it a sub-par movie with a bizarre concept that was not executed well. However, feel free to watch it yourself on DVD or Netflix and decide for yourself!