Nine years ago, my wife, Tracy, and I drove 15 hours straight from Hendersonville, Tennessee, to New York, excited for a new start. Tennessee, with its combination of conservatism and religion-bred suspicion, especially in the filmmaking world. One thing any creator needs is a chance. An open door to entertain or move you—that’s all we ask.
Arriving in Albany at dusk we circumvented the spaghetti highway, passed the quasi-futurist Empire State Plaza and landed in front of the Gothic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. We were confused, but hopeful. We quickly learned the Capital Region’s people were down to earth and would give you a chance to prove your worth. We did amazing things here.
After nine fruitful years in Albany, Troy and Schenectady, we moved to Tuxedo Park in July. We love upstate and will come back often, but it was time for another risk. Getting too comfortable puts out our creative fire. We sometimes invent deadlines just to rev up work output. We will book a hotel room for a few days to work on a script. Having a finite amount of time to accomplish a goal puts you under the gun. In Tuxedo, we are 40 minutes from one of the biggest cities in the world. It’s just statistics; more plus more equals more—at least that’s the theory.
We now live in a groovy ’60s-style cottage in the woods with decks running both sides of the house. We have met our neighbors: two flocks of turkey, a herd of deer and a charm of hummingbirds. Tracy pretends she’s in Eden and, like Adam, names all the animals. We have breakfast every morning on the deck and talk about the day’s adventure as the cicadas start singing. It’s a whole new world and we feel renewed in it. Who knew you could rent piece of mind so cheaply?
It makes me wonder if we all need a vacation from ourselves. Tracy calls it “dusting yourself off.” You take yourself down from the shelf and blow away the cobwebs. For us, this time it was a move, but it could be a trip out of town, a furniture rearrangement or a new haircut. It’s that feeling you had as a kid when you got a new pair of shoes and you felt like you could immediately run faster than ever before. The “dust off” is a way to reset.
The move also changed our perspective on filmmaking. Instead of writing or editing in a dark box, you can be out in the open, surrounded by green. For decades, recording studios have lured musicians with comforts and the vibe of their studio. The Rolling Stones recorded Goats Head Soup in Kingston, Jamaica, to create a completely different mood for the record. Environment can affect product. Again, that’s our theory.
Tracy and I will always be tethered to upstate New York. We are lucky to know many collaborators and cohorts who have flourishing careers. Following their success is a joy; it’s what the film business should be about.
The Native Americans named the local lake Tucseto, which means “place of the bear.” That’s where Tuxedo Park got its name. We’ve been told bears linger on the other side of the lake, and we are always looking for them. Our new home boasts a long, storied history. just as the Capital Region does. Nothing ever ends. It just begins again.
Jon Russell Cring is a Tuxedo-based filmmaker who’s most recent film Darcy was featured at the Film Columbia festival in Chatham NY. He and his wife have worked on films such as The Neighborhood That Disappeared and The Night We Met.