Idyllic Otsego County is much more than the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Framed by verdant, rolling foothills of the northern Catskill Mountains, and featuring the headwaters of the Susquehanna River, Otsego County is the ultimate rural paradise. Farms, forests and two beautiful lakes are contained within the county borders. Plus, if you’re looking for something a bit more urbane, but still contained and manageable, the diverse and bustling college city of Oneonta, the city of the hills, looks great on film. Oneonta can provide locations for shooting at college settings, industrial settings, small-scale urban downtown settings and working class environments. It has a great Main Street that includes several dramatic looking municipal buildings.
The affluent village of Cooperstown, the cradle of baseball, provides a more high-end location with its Victorian era historic district, the Glimmerglass Historic District. Between its ten-mile long Otsego Lake, its beautiful homes dating back to the 1790s, the wonderful Fenimore Art Museum, its small-town charm and the massive Bassett Medical Center, Cooperstown has much to offer. Main Street Cooperstown is a paean to baseball like nothing else in the world.
In addition, Otsego County has a dozen other villages and several dozen hamlets, all with their own distinct looks and small-town vibes, ranking from tony and artistic to rundown and abandoned.
However, Otsego County is primarily rural. Farming rivals tourism as the biggest industry, and there are orchards, corn fields, cows for beef and milk, maple syrup farms and plenty of horse country locations and riders.
Otsego County is home to a robust network of equestrians in all disciplines including English, western, saddle seat, driving, vaulting and racing. With numerous professional facilities and miles of beautiful trails, Otsego county can support or augment your film’s equine needs.
There is plenty of municipal land, including hundreds of acres of state forest, many water features and every film site has the picturesque foothills in the background. Otsego County stretches from the Catskills to the Mohawk Valley, and the mighty Adirondacks are just to the north, so the topography varies, rising and falling depending on the location.
Though much of the county is rural and isolated, you will never be too far from Oneonta, which is also the gateway to the northern and western Catskills. Southside Oneonta has a Walmart, Office Max, B.J.’s Wholesale Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and more, to help you run an office during your shoot. The colleges would also make a great base camp, especially when they are out of session.
There is a large tourism season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, including two baseball tournament locations that bring in a large volume of weekly visitors. The county therefore has a large stock of housing that rents for about 13 weeks and then is vacant from September to March. Otsego County also has most of the hotel stock in the region, either in Oneonta, or along the Route 28 corridor to Cooperstown.
The Glimmerglass Festival is a world class opera house in Springfield Center, at the north end of the county. Foothills Performing Arts and Civic Center in Oneonta is a state certified production facility.
Otsego County has a short but hot summer and an extended, snowy winter. Snowfall can top 100 inches per year. Shoots needing snow can reasonably move into the area for shoots beginning in November or January and be rewarded with snowfall. Spring comes late, as in May showers bring June flowers, but the wildflower season is vibrant. Fall foliage rivals the New England states, with peak usually coming in mid-October. Harvest season dominates the fall, with apple cider pressing, hay rolls multiplying along the landscape and corn stalks browning in the fields.
Though Otsego County has a small population, you’ll find a good number of experienced and talented crew here. Unlike other, similarly-populated areas to which you’d have to bring a large crew hired elsewhere, you’ll be able to find professional, semi-professional and amateur filmmakers with great skills to help you execute your vision. Plus, these local crew members will help you utilize the full potential of the region. In addition to our homegrown crew, anyone working for you in Albany and Syracuse, (or Binghamton and Utica, for that matter) is close enough to hire for a shoot here.
You’ll find great actors willing to help you bring your script to the screen. Otsego County has a vibrant populace who are willing to work as extras, including college students, summer residents, retired professionals, working farmers and craftspeople. There is significant summer stock theater, some using actors from New York City and some using troops of local talent. And there are many young actors who have grown up in Otsego County while performing at the Glimmerglass Festival, so you may be able to find young leads among the local population.
There are many hotels, motels, and rental properties available in a large range of prices to house you and your non-local crew during the shoot. With the “Dreamspark rentals” often filled only during the tourism season, there are often houses available for rental specifically for the fall and winter. Many of these houses are in picturesque locations benefiting summer rentals.
The Otsego region has many restaurants with diverse food and price options that are willing to cater your shoot. Many of these establishments are able to accommodate various dietary concerns (vegan, gluten-free, etc.).
Otsego County was one of three counties split off from Montgomery (the other two being Herkimer and Tioga). Otsego County was officially established on February 16, 1791, with Cooperstown as its county seat, although at the time the village of Cherry Valley was much larger. The original county consisted of three large townships: