In the history of America, Newark, NJ has always quietly and consistently made contributions in a wide spectrum of industries, from inventions to legislation, the visual and performing arts as well as education.  In this article, we’ll explore six areas where Newark, NJ has made notable contributions in the world of film.

1) Film Was Invented In Newark

Reverend Hannibal Goodwin invented celluloid film at the Plume house on Broad Street as a way to make his Sunday school classes more exciting for his students and project the images on a wall. After creating this exciting invention, Rev. Goodwin realized that he had created the first moving picture and giving birth to the Motion Picture industry.

After filing for a US patent for his invention Rev. Goodwin started to reproduce and sell his film to many people in NJ, one main person is inventor Thomas Edison who had invented the first Motion Picture camera in what is now called Edison NJ.

2) Newark International Film Festival

The Newark International Film Festival is an annual film festival hosted in Newark, NJ since 2016.  The Newark International Film Festival has premiered a number of notable films and included workshops, filmmaker competitions, and an awards ceremony to recognize filmmakers of various disciplines from around the world.  The NewarkIFF Foundation was formed in 2016 to be the non-profit arm for the Newark International film festival. Supported by the Newark Office of Film & TV and Ironbound Studios, The Newark IFF Foundation serves as a year-round 501 c3 training foundation for inner-city youth and adults, helping them to understand and gain experience in the Film & Television industry that would not ordinarily be available to them.  

3) Notable Movies Filmed In Newark

Newark has been selected as the location to film a long list of critically-acclaimed and blockbuster movies.  Some of the movies that have filmed scenes in Newark, NJ include:

  • Cadillac Records, starring Beyoncé
  • The Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale
  • Joker, Joaquin Phoenix
  • The Many Saints of Newark (Sopranos prequel)
  • Rounders, starring Matt Damon
  • Scent Of A Woman, starring Al Pacino
  • Spider-man: Far From Home, starring Tom Holland
  • World War Z, starring Tom Cruise

Newark is currently the filming location for the Steven Spielberg remake of West Side Story, scheduled for release in 2020.

4) Filmmaker Incentives

The New Jersey Film & Digital Media Tax Credit Program provides a transferable credit against the corporation business tax and the gross income tax for certain expenses incurred for the production of certain films and digital media content in New Jersey. The goal of the program is to incentivize production companies to film and create digital media content in New Jersey.

Along with the financial incentives available to production companies, Newark also has a wonderfully attractive landscape of locations, including park spaces, corporate landscapes, colleges and universities, neighborhoods, churches, and more.

5) Newark Black Film Festival

Since its inception in 1974, the Newark Museum Black Film Festival (NMBFF)--formerly the NBFF (Newark Black Film Festival)--has become known among its peers as the longest-running black film festival in the United States. Throughout the years, it has continued to provide a progressive public forum for hundreds of emerging writers, directors, producers, performers and film buffs who enjoy African American and African Diaspora cinema. Screening in the summer months, the films that are shown reflect the full diversity of the black experience in America, both past and present. 

Each film selection encompasses a wide range of cinematic forms and formulas, from documentary to the avant-garde. The festival also features the Paul Robeson awards, a biennial competition.

6) Filmmakers From Newark

Not only has Newark made itself a home for a number of movies to be filmed, but the city is also home to a number of filmmakers you may have heard of, including: 

Frankie Valli
Queen Latifah
Faith Evans
Jason Alexander
John Stamos
Brian DePalma
Michael B. Jordan
Jerry Lewis
Ray Liotta
Keisha Knight Pulliam
J.D. Williams