Frank Sinatra was here for “The Detective.” It was transformed into old Atlantic City for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” “Blue Bloods” brought Donnie Wahlberg here earlier this year. Rockaway is famous. At least it’s made some cameos. And now Rock Locations is looking to put more of a spotlight on the peninsula as a film hotspot.
Claudia Bloom has experience in a variety of media and film from publishing to acting and even coaching actors herself. After moving from the Upper East Side to Rockaway last November, Bloom wanted a way to work within her new hometown. “I was looking for a creative outlet to keep me working more at the beach than spending too much time on the A train commute,” Bloom said. With her background in media and TV/film, she recognized Rockaway as an ideal backdrop for filming and photography and saw an opportunity to bring attention to the peninsula. “I started to think about the richness and beauty of this urban beach community and I knew things had been filmed here before, but I was thinking about how I can use my skills and knowledge of the film business and making connections here. I started asking local businesses if they would be interested in having their place used for a shoot and a lot said ‘yeah, sign me up,’” Bloom said. She launched Rock Locations in January, a company designed to connect those looking to shoot a project, with businesses and homes that owners are willing to be used for media production projects.
As a surfer herself, Bloom started with those in the surf community, such as Breakwater Surf Co and the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. She has since added Marina 59, Rockaway Brewing Co, Ship to Shore Wine Shop, Sayra’s Wine Bar, Zingara Vintage, NiLu Kids, Off Season Boutique, New York Arbor Gallery, All Seasons Retreat and the Swellife mobile boutique, plus even more businesses pending. Soon homeowners started to offer up their properties, like the guys behind Locals Surf School, who own a Rockaway Beach surf house. A large Neponsit home, a Beach 117th Street cottage, two bungalows on Beach 24th and about three other homes are also up for a chance in the spotlight.
Through her connections in the industry, and simply through networking with film crews that come out to Rockaway, Bloom is also building up a list of contacts that may see the potential for these Rockaway locations to be used for things such as print media, films, television shows, commercials, music videos and more. So far Bloom has been contacted by publications such as the Wall Street Journal, InStyle Magazine and others, who have sent scouts to visit some of the Rock Locations. Bloom says that no shootings have taken place yet, but she sees the idea taking off. “I can’t imagine this is not going to happen,” she said.
Bloom sees many benefits in utilizing Rockaway homes and businesses for shoots. Among them are proximity, affordability, the potential use of the diverse locations and giving the neighborhood a boost in a post-Sandy Rockaway. “There is a convenience factor with Rockaway, being so close to the city, Brooklyn and Queens. It’s also close to JFK Airport, if someone were to come from Los Angeles for a shoot,” Bloom said. The peninsula also presents more affordable options. “If a wine bar in Rockaway needs to close down for the day, the filmmaker’s budget is going to be lower than if they close down a wine bar in Manhattan,” Bloom said. She envisions the locations she has being used to represent other places. “You walk into this huge home on the bay block and you could be in the Hamptons. You walk into the Rockaway brewery and you can be in Brooklyn or you go to Marina 59 and you can be in Mystic, Connecticut. I see so many ways to use these locations,” she said. Bloom says the exposure will also benefit the community. “This will continue to put Rockaway on the map. A lot of these locations are new and they could use some promotion and a financial boost. If you’re watching a commercial or film and you see a piece of Rockaway featured, it’s very exciting for locals.”