How Rock Locations’ Claudia Bloom is Turning the Rockaways into a Production Destination
Claudia Bloom started her business venture, Rock Locations, after a trip out to the Rockaways post-Hurricane Sandy. Her love of surfing and the allure of the easy-going beach community kept her coming back. Years later, Bloom is drawing on her contacts and connections in the area to make surf shops, artist studios, charming inns and more available for production teams looking for unique space to shoot. We caught up with Bloom to learn more about her Rockaway-based spaces and what makes the Rockaways an ideal location for production.
SPLACER: You have quite a roster of unique spaces, how did you find them?
CLAUDIA BLOOM: I pitched the company idea [Rock Locations] to a group in the area, to network it, and some home owners approached me. The local newspaper did a story on me and Rock Locations and the next day a number of people contacted me to ask if I’d represent their homes or businesses. I know some of the local surf teachers and represent a couple of their homes. A lot of it has been word of mouth, networking, shopping in the stores, drinking and eating at the restaurants to try them out. It’s been a wonderful way to make me feel so much more a part of my new community. I’ve had new people meet me now and say, “Oh, you’re Rock Locations!”
SPLACER: Tell us about the neighborhood and what you like about it.
CB: The neighborhood is quite unusual. It’s clearly a NYC area – there are the same city problems/issues as any of the other boroughs may have. But there’s the beach, the ocean, the brand new boardwalk (about 6 miles, built after the former one was devastated by Hurricane Sandy) that draws every type of resident and visitor, regardless of race, age, or income. The surfers too have put a lovely stamp on the place. Many are in a creative field and they have brought their art to the area – in the form of yoga studios, wine bars, coffee cafes, art galleries, bands, and more. I often describe the area as a hip urban beach community.
SPLACER: How do you envision your spaces being used? For what types of productions? What types of people? What are the advantages of your spaces?
CB: I’m hoping that the spaces I represent are conducive for any sorts of productions – TV, film, commercials, print and digital editorial, photography shoots, music videos, industrial or branding videos. They all seem to lend themselves to those easily. Of course depending on size, crew and cast and equipment are all factors, the houseboat can really only hold a smaller production. The Inn’s production can be large and grand. The Pizza Shop has room for a medium sized group and the Beer Bar can hold many, inside and out.
There are quite a few advantages I see for any of these spaces. Most importantly, they are all based in The Rockaways. Yes, this is NYC but we are not in the heart of Manhattan or Brooklyn, where fees can be a major factor. To shut down a beer bar or an artist studio for a day in those boroughs would be more expensive than closing up one of ours. We are a seasonal community and all the owners are willing to be flexible with rates and types of shoots, especially in non-summer months. The proximity to John F. Kennedy International Airport, for production companies flying in from out of town, is an advantage. The area is about 15-20 minutes from the airport by car or subway. It’s easy to get cast and crew out by car, or via the A train. Come summer, we will have the ferry from a dock on our bay to downtown NYC. What a fun way to travel to and from set! I can’t wait!
SPLACER: How has your experience been so far?
CB: Rock Locations has just begun it’s second year. Year one was about securing the locations, working with each owner, setting up the Facebook page and the Instagram profile, finding good photographers to work with, shooting photos, and starting the legwork to let as many as I can know about the company. There have been quite a few inquiries, and now each week I receive emails from business contacts letting me know how excited they are to hope to work at the spaces one day. Some are fans of the area already and others are unfamiliar, and located in many other countries, but eager to work in the area at my locations.
SPLACER: List your top 5 favorite things about one of your Spaces.
CB: Oh no, but I don’t want to pick a favorite! Castle/Event Space/Inn: it’s grand, it sits on and overlooks the bay, it has 2 levels of rooftop decks which are grass covered, with an outdoor spiral staircase that connects the two levels, there are Murphy beds in each bedroom that transform the rooms from bedrooms to any other types of spaces, there’s a sauna and massage room on the lower floor
SPLACER: Any advice for other space owners looking to host productions?
CB: As of now, I’m trying to be accessible, to answer any questions the owners may have, reply to contacts’ inquiries as soon as I can, and update the locations’ photos with the sharpest and most beautiful pictures possible. The more inviting the locations appear, the more interested others will be in working in them.
All Photos: Donnie Nicholson Photography