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Local actor wants to convert Beech-Nut site into movie studio

The Beech-Nut site in the Village of Canajoharie is shown. (The Leader Herald/Briana O'Hara)

CANAJOHARIE — Aspiring actors, directors, photographers, artists, musicians and those seeking jobs could possibly have the opportunity of a lifetime with potential ideas for the former Beech-Nut site.

Joe Marino, actor and director of the film, “The Vatican Exorcisms,” has ideas to turn the site into a filming studio, which is just one part of his proposal for the site. His vision for the site also includes several aspects of the entertainment industry.

“This is a good idea for many reasons because it saves the building, it brings jobs to the community for Canajoharie and brings [in] people from outside,” Marino said. “It would be called The Dream Factory because we create dreams. Filmmaking is a dream.”

Marino said the first step would be to save and refurbish the century-old building because of its age — the building was built more than 118 years ago. He said the next step would be bringing jobs to the community of Canajoharie and then bringing people to the village, people who would want to live there.

He said a filming studio would help create jobs because it would need workers to help refurbish the building and would also need people to help build sets including painters, carpenters, office workers, security guards and many more.

The Beech-Nut site in the Village of Canajoharie is shown. (The Leader Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Workers would build sets that include fake gardens, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, or a set depicting New York City streets, depending on the film.

“Of course, the first six months there wouldn’t be much, but within three years we plan to have a lot of people working there and the reason is because we want to be faithful to the village of Canajoharie,” Marino said. “It would not make sense for us to say we want to build a studio, but we want to bring all the workers from outside. We want to help the community because the community will eventually help us.”

The would also be more than just the filming studio, he explained. “The Dream Factory” will also include a theater where premieres would be shown. The theater would seat up to 500 people.

There could also be a cooking show set so the public could be invited to be the audience and learn to cook.

Marino said there would be a photography studio for photographers, and a music studio for local artists to go sing and record music. He said they would also offer acting classes, directing classes and more to all encompass the possible future site. Marino said scholarships would be available to those who couldn’t afford the classes.

He said there would also be a nursing station for anyone hurt or sick, a cafeteria and coffee shop for workers to take breaks and get food. Marino also mentioned a busing station, so they could send buses to pick up anyone in need of transportation and bring them back home.

“We want to be entertainment friendly. Anything that is entertainment – that is good for people to be happy and say they had a good time,” Marino said.

He said sometimes people don’t have the money to afford to visit New York City or California to make their dreams possible.

“We want to make it possible for them to do that here. We want to be able to accommodate every person in the area,” Marino said.

Marino said he would like to create “The Dream Factory” in Canajoharie because it’s so close the Thruway and it’s only about three to four hours away from New York City.

“We would want to make it affordable and easy for them to come and shoot up here in Canajoharie,” Marino said. “There’s a lot of history here. The village is beautiful, it’s charming, but there are no jobs.”

Marino said he and his partners — whom he wouldn’t name — have hit a road block because they are unsure of who to go to next with their ideas for the Beech-Nut site.

Village Mayor Francis Avery said he spoke with Marino and directed him to the county since it owns the building.

Andrew Santillo of the Montgomery County Executive Office said Marino would first have to fill out the Industrial Department Agency application, which he has yet to submit.

Marino said he would like to talk to the community about his ideas and answer any questions they may have.

“We definitely need to talk more with them and really understand what they want to do because this has been going on now for quite some time, two or three months. And we want to know if this idea is accepted or not because otherwise we have to look elsewhere, and we don’t have a problem to look elsewhere,” Marino said.

Marino said so far the processes of trying to give the county his ideas for the building and possibly purchasing the Beech-Nut site in particular has been difficult. He said he has also begun searching for other possible buildings if he can’t get the Beech-Nut building.

Marino said he would like to remain in upstate New York because no one wants to live in areas like Los Angeles or New York City because it’s more expensive to live in those areas and because of all the heavy traffic.

“The safest place, believe it or not, is Canajoharie; safest, not the best, but we want to make it the best,” Marino said. “We literally want to put Canajoharie on the map.”

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