Lights, camera: First film production studio opens in downtown Naples

Photos courtesy of Fiddler Films
Left to right, Director and producer Lou Hernandez, Creative Director Bryan Cooper, and hair and makeup artist Holly Prergola Cunningham of Fiddler Films in Naples.

Photos courtesy of Fiddler Films Left to right, Director and producer Lou Hernandez, Creative Director Bryan Cooper, and hair and makeup artist Holly Prergola Cunningham of Fiddler Films in Naples.

Southwest Florida, get ready for your close-up.

One of Naples most established film production studios, Fiddler Films, recently relocated to downtown Naples. With its new 3,000-square-foot digs comes a broader mission, too: As it continues its own film production projects, Fiddler Films also hopes to make the new studio and its resources available to the local creative community.

Those resources include a cyc wall, which is sometimes known as an infinity wall and allows for filming against a seamless background, and an array of filmmaking gear, including lighting and camera equipment, graphics and audio services and more.

"To have this and not be able to share it with everybody defeats the purpose," said Louis Hernandez, owner of Fiddler Films.

In addition, Fiddler Films has contacts throughout the industry. If you're a filmmaker with a great idea but just can't seem to get the story down on paper, Fiddler Films certainly knows a scriptwriter. Or, if you need someone to narrate your documentary, Fiddler Films will help you find a voice-over artist.

From storyboarding to casting, the studio can assist with the entire creative process. Many Fiddler Films' freelancers are from outside the area, but just as many are local. Southwest Florida has such a deep pool of talent from which to draw, Hernandez explained.

"This area is rich in terms of culture, people, backdrops," he said.

Originally from Connecticut, Hernandez relocated to Naples full-time from Los Angeles in the early 1990s. In Los Angeles, Hernandez worked on the production side of the industry, including on the popular television series "Boy Meets World." For a time, he traveled back and forth to Los Angeles from Naples, but ultimately, he decided to focus his business exclusively on Southwest Florida.

With his background, it wasn't long before Fiddler Films began working with many of the area's prominent real estate developers and companies, including WCI Cos., the Lutgert Cos. and Signature Communities. Fiddler Films' talents have drawn clients from outside the region as well.

"Our projects take us all over," Hernandez said. "And then there's projects that we love doing here locally."

In recent years, those projects have included work for Naples-based Health Management, which operates 71 hospitals in the United States, including Collier County's Physicians Regional Healthcare System. For the past three years, Fiddler Films has produced a variety of videos for the organization, said Jon Nedry, Health Management's director of creative services.

These videos include everything from a short spot where an executive addresses the employees to longer, high-concept corporate and promotional videos. Nedry praised Fiddler Films and Hernandez for having an ability to push the creative envelope in a way that works for the company.

"He's approaching it as a feature film and brings that mentality of high-concept, high film to simple videos," Nedry said of Hernandez. "He raises the bar."

Fiddler Films is behind one of Physicians Regional's most popular television spots to date. The "Positively Great" spots show Physicians Regional doctors giving "great news" to patients, and are characterized by upbeat music, big smiles and a soft, happy feeling.

"They have a really unique style, and it's really consistent for us," Nedry said. "Everything's really warm."

The Positively Great spots have been so successful, that Nedry's even heard that sometimes when patients walk through the hospital campus, they recognize the doctors who appear in the ads and comment to the doctors about the spots. He's also heard some competitors remark that they wish their television spots looked as friendly and inviting.

Through the years, Fiddler Films has also produced several public service announcements and promotional videos for local nonprofit organizations, including the Naples Botanical Garden, the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples and a "stranger danger" video for the Collier County Sheriff's Office.

About 1,200 square feet of Fiddler Films' new studio is devoted to filming space; high ceilings and double doors to the outside make the space especially versatile, Hernandez noted. If one wished, a music video could be shot there or even a full-length feature film, complete with a green screen background.

The studio also houses a variety of other production-related areas, such as a make-up studio, dressing room, conference room and kitchen. The building, which is located on Fifth Avenue South just west of Goodlette-Frank Road, formerly housed an antique shop and has been completely renovated to create a sleek, contemporary space.

"This is not any different than any New York or Los Angeles studio you would walk in," Hernandez said.

For local filmmakers and productions companies who wish to use the space, Hernandez is ready to make it available, provided they have the proper insurance. As an artist, he believes that the sharing of such resources can only help to benefit and stimulate the creative community at large.

"I think everybody, creatively, will contribute something," Hernandez said.

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