Camden, NJ – When searching for film locations, you want to hire a location scout that understands the filmmaking process and knows the area like the back of their hand. Suzanne Koneful checks all the boxes. She shares her take on local production, and why the future of filmmaking in South Jersey is filled with promise.

Suzanne is a fourth generation Camden County native, so South Jersey is in her DNA. She grew up playing in the Pine Barrens, where she picked strawberries and rode ponies. Her father was a pilot who towed banners over crowded Jersey Shore beaches during the summers and hiked along the scenic vistas of the Delaware Water Gap during the cooler months. He shared his passions with his daughter, inadvertently giving Suzanne a broad familiarity with New Jersey geography that helped transform her into one of the region’s most experienced and sought-after location scouts.

Suzanne scouts extensively — but not exclusively — in the Delaware Valley region of the Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, encompassing the townships that border the Delaware River right down to the southern tip of the Cape May peninsula. “If you were to cut the state in half, anything below the Trenton/Princeton area to Atlantic City, it would fit that demographic.”

This great enthusiasm for the area informs her work. In her travels, she has come to understand the many advantages to filming in South Jersey. “Aside from the diversity of architecture and ecosystems stretching across the region, we have the proximity to both Philadelphia and New York markets and all that they have to offer, with rentals and crew. The Philadelphia International Airport is an easy shuttle ride away. On top of that, location filming costs are much less than in other markets, thanks in part to lower-than-normal fees for locations, parking, permits and the availability of affordable studio spaces. Quick turnarounds for tight schedules and timely approvals also make a big difference,” explains Suzanne. “It all adds up.”

These advantages notwithstanding, decisions always come down to “location, location, location.” And Suzanne knows that South Jersey has wonderful sites in variety and abundance. “The historical makeup of the small towns dotting the coast of the Delaware to the southern Atlantic shorelines are as diverse as one can imagine. Quaint coastal cottages flanking the Delaware River line, farmlands set within lush grassland prairies, and horse ranches that stretch through the largest pine forests in the State, are just the beginning. The amount of underutilized topography accessible in a single day is astonishing. Even in the heart of the Pinelands you are no more than 45 minutes from PHL,” boasts Suzanne.

These locations have attracted productions large and small, and Suzanne sees more coming every day. “There’s been an uptick in the last 2 years due to the tax credit component. On top of the feature and episodic series work, we’ve seen a slew of local commercial productions. The financial incentives, including the diversity incentive, provide an added hook for those seeking to fulfill their mission to create a more diverse workplace on set. It’s fantastic,” adds Suzanne.

Suzanne is constantly promoting South Jersey, and she works hard to uncover unique locations. “Whether a production is looking for a city, or for rural, suburban, quaintly appointed or quirky blue-collar vibed small towns; if they are searching for wide open landscapes, glitzy or gritty, bay fronted roadways, and of course the dark old growth pinelands, I know I can find it,” she says with assurance. “Personally, I am driven to land more work in the City of Camden, as it boasts so many amazing locations with a waterfront view of Philadelphia that is second to none. But I’m out selling it all.”

There is some work to be done. For larger productions, Suzanne feels the challenge is often finding enough indigenous crew and vendors. But even that obstacle is quickly disappearing. The South Jersey production industry continues to grow and adapt, adding more working professionals and more support businesses. Happily, there is much more on the way. “Many longtime filmmakers I’ve known since the 90’s have relocated here from Philadelphia and New York to take advantage of the proximity, and as a result there is more filming interest. They see South Jersey as a suburb of the Philadelphia market.”

As far as the future is concerned, Suzanne believes New Jersey and South Jersey are perfectly positioned to satisfy on-location filmmaking needs, and she sees things getting busier and bigger. “I think there are several factors, including a heightened awareness of the area amongst the production industry and a need to create diverse media content. Our growing resources and numerous locations help make my job, to provide memorable locations at the most bang for the production buck, a whole lot easier!”