To say “New York City appears in a lot of movies” might be the understatement of the century. Rotten Tomatoes even put together a list, The 212 Best New York City Movies, Ranked, and with over a century worth of films to choose from, the 212 they picked are just scratching the surface. It’s easy to see why. The five boroughs make up an iconic, world-renowned city filled with thousands of intriguing nooks ready to help tell stories. But with all the traffic and millions of inhabitants crowding the sidewalks, to film in NYC must be a monumental headache. Apparently not, according to Jean Pierre Kathoefer, New York City resident and founder of Johnnypuetz Productions.
Whether in person or over a video call, Kathoefer bubbles with enthusiasm, especially when the conversation centers around filming, motorcycles, or cars. It’s easy to discern he’s prescribes to “if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing to the best of your ability,” because the passion is clear as day. But he wasn’t always interested in film.
After moving to New York City eight years ago for a job at an IT company, Kathoefer didn’t know many people and wanted to discover the city he now calls home. He turned to Youtube and started following the vlogger Casey Neistat. Soon after that, feeling inspired, Kathoefer bought his first GoPro, but the cinematic experience he was looking for remained elusive. “I started filming myself making breakfast and running grocery errands, but quickly realized people didn’t want to watch that kind of thing. It’s just boring.” Kathoefer added, “that’s when I realized I have a passion for videography.”
“I had to figure out my niche. I love filming and I love motorcycles. I’ve been riding for most of my life. So it made sense to bring the two together.” His first projects were with motorcycle apparel brands, filming content for websites and social media.
Initially, most of the brands he worked with had small budgets, so payment was usually in the form of free jackets, helmets, and gear. “That was fine at the beginning, but it got to the point where my girlfriend (half-jokingly) said ‘if you bring home another jacket or helmet, don’t bother coming home’ and that flipped a switch.” So, in May of 2019, Kathoefer turned his hobby into a living and founded Johnnypuetz Productions.
His first big project was The Distinguished Gentleman which premiered at the 2019 Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival in Ontario. It was the first time Kathoefer got funding and was able to pay the crew. It opened a few doors. Filming creatively in and around New York City takes practice but once you develop the skill set it comes more naturally, which shows through the final product. Magnus Walker, of Porsche-collecting fame, took notice and collaborated with Kathoefer to film Big Apple Outlaw. It’s currently Walker’s most-watched Youtube video by a wide margin, with 512,000 views.
It’s not just the famous subject matter that helped the short film rack up so many views. Kathoefer and his crew put their motorcycle-riding skills to good use and combined their creativity with their knowledge of the city streets to film a fast-paced, energetic hit even non-car lovers could appreciate.
The part that requires the most skill is filming and editing. The easy part, Kathoefer says, is working in NYC. “It’s actually ‘film-friendly’. New York likes when people film in the city because it acts as free marketing for the city itself. The city supports creative projects and as a result, NYC is a hub for creative people.”
Depending on the size of the shoot, Johnnypuetz Productions has an arsenal of support vehicles. From the crew’s own motorcycles, a Zero electric motorcycle, and ATV, to a Tesla Model Y outfitted with a motorized camera crane. “For bigger projects, permits are required. To contend with NYC traffic, we’ll work with NYPD. All you need is a permit, which is relatively easy to get.” However, Kathoefer does admit, “It helps to know someone in the NYC permit office,” but says it’s still obtainable.
“If it’s necessary you can get an NYPD escort, map out an approved route, and they escort you through the traffic. There is an option to shut down a street, but it’s more involved and much more expensive.”
As far as physically filming in NYC, Johnnypuetz Productions is appropriately staffed and streetwise. “Most of our crew are experienced riders, which is super helpful for filming car-to-car and weaving through traffic. We also have a long list of locations to choose from and present to clients as options so that cuts down on time spent location scouting.”
If Kathoefer’s story and catalog of work prove anything, it’s that anyone can pick up a camera and start filming, but to be skilled, and produce video high caliber work, you need a team like Johnnypuetz Productions. It’s easier to film in New York City than you might have thought. Making an entertaining short film that grossed over a half-million views on Youtube is an entirely different story.