Needs more squirrelNeeds more squirrel Syracuse Resident Sean Cunningham Wins with “Discover a Different NY” 

NEW YORK, September 24, 2008 – I Love New York (, the marketing arm for the State of New York, received some star power help today to honor Syracuse resident Sean Cunningham with the Grand Prize in the first-ever I Love New York Short Film Competition.


Representatives of Empire State Development (ESD) and The Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development joined Ugly Betty star America Ferrera on the set of the hit ABC series to both announce the winner and welcome the cast and crew to their new home in New York City.


Cunningham’s short film, Discover a Different New York, was one of several hundred entries in the inaugural I Love New York Short Film Competition presented by ESD.  The competition is part of the State of New York’s re-launch of the iconic I Love New York brand to raise awareness of the entire State as a world-class vacation destination.  Filmmakers ages 14 and older, regardless of their experience behind a camera, were eligible to participate.


A panel of entertainment industry celebrities with strong ties to New York, who judged the films last week, included Academy Award-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emmy-winner Tina Fey, and MTV Movie Award-winning filmmaker Doug Liman.


New York Governor David A. Paterson praised the winning entry while noting the importance of filmmaking to both the State and New York City. 


“It was only fitting that this award for creative filmmaking was announced on the set of Ugly Betty, which is wisely taking advantage of our State’s tripled tax incentive on film and TV production,” said Governor Paterson. “The film and TV industries are vital to the State’s economic success and contribute an estimated $7 billion annually while employing more than 100,000 people, so we are gratified to see a show such as Ugly Betty return to New York and impressed by the creativity and love for the State exhibited during this competition.”


New York State is widely considered the independent film capital of the world. The State demonstrated its commitment to the industry in April by tripling the tax incentive on film production in the state from 10% to 30%. 


Ugly Betty’s producers saw the benefits that filming in New York would bring to the show, both economically and creatively.


“Our adjustment to shooting in New York has been seamless thanks to our talented crew and enormously supportive film commission,” said Richard Heus, executive producer.  “Our location shooting has let us expand Betty's world in ways we haven't seen since the show shot its pilot."


Location was a topic that struck a positive chord with ESD officials and the film competition’s judges as well.


“The I Love New York Short Film Competition brought together the tourism and film industries, both of which are invaluable assets to the state, providing jobs and billions of dollars annually to New York’s economy,” said ESD CEO & President Marisa Lago. “The hundreds of submissions we received for the competition evidenced the creativity that New York State inspires. People all over the world love New York and the return home of ABC’s Ugly Betty confirms that New York remains one of the most desired and diverse filming locations in the country."


According to Thomas Ranese, chief marketing officer of ESD, the competition has helped demonstrate the affection that people feel towards the entire State, including New York City, while also highlighting regions beyond.


“We created this competition to help people see that New York is more than just home to the greatest city in the world,” said Ranese, “but also a truly dynamic and beautiful state.  The competition has also been an effective way to draw traffic to our Web site,, and raise awareness for the State as a top vacation destination.”


The Grand Prize winning film will appear as part of a commercial during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast, as well as on jetBlue Airways seatback televisions and the Independent Film Channel (IFC).  Film festivals across the state have partnered with the competition, including Hamptons Film Festival; Lake Placid Film Forum; New York Film Festival; Rochester High Falls International Film Festival; Syracuse International Film Festival; Tribeca Film Festival; and Woodstock Film Festival.


Sponsors of the I Love New York Short Film Competition include the Independent Film Channel (IFC), The Independent Feature Project (IFP), jetBlue Airways, The New York Post and Sony.  For more information about the “I Love New York Short Film Competition, including a complete list of regional and special category winners, please visit

PHOTO CAPTION: Pat Swinney Kaufman, center, Executive Director New York State Governor's Office for Motion Picture and Television Development, and Thomas Ranese, right, Chief Marketing Officer for Empire State Development, present actress America Ferrera, star of TV's "Ugly Betty", with I LOVE NY t-shirts at the announcement of the winners of I LOVE NY's Short Film Competition.About New York StateNew York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions.  New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls, to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like fishing, hiking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers.  For more information visit  Media can find press releases and more at The Beat.

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