Penn Yan man instrumental in new TV company

Gwen Chamberlain
Tim Banach

A Penn Yan native working in Rochester is in the middle of the birth of a new TV production company, a place where he’s found himself working for former NFL quarterback Jim Kelly and at a press conference with motion picture producers Peter and Bob Farrelly.

And in a way, he credits his trajectory to his mother and his grandfather.

Tim Banach, a 2002 graduate of Penn Yan Academy, is the operations manager for Fifth Year Productions.

Banach, the son of Skip and Sandy Banach of Penn Yan, earned a bachelors degree in film from Rochester Institute of Technology, and then followed that up with a masters in business administration from the RIT business school.

He says he chose his educational path based on a story told by his grandfather, John Banach. The elder Banach was a barber, a career that was thrust on him when an Army drill instructor tossed him a pair of scissors and told him, “You get to cut hair.”

Tim says that story helped him realize he should pursue a career that was inspired by his interests. On a tour of RIT when he was considering a major in math or science, he took a secondary tour of the film school and watched as make-up was applied to an actor who was playing the part of a burn victim. He knew then that he wanted to be behind the scenes and he wanted to make movies. “Nobody tossed me the scissors, but I knew what I wanted to do,” he says.

After getting his technical skills in the film school, he was unsure of his next step, but it didn’t take long for his mother to give him some good advice.“You should get your MBA,” she said.

Armed with his unique educational combination, he started working for CGI Communications just a week after earning his master’s degree. CGI Communications is a Rochester company that specializes in the production of videos for online use by municipalities, tourism promotion agencies and other organizations.

At first, he wrote scripts for Internet commercials, and then moved on to work on a book project for CGI owner Bob Bartosiewicz.

But one day Bartosiewicz came into the office with a new idea: a TV production company that will produce shows for nationwide viewing. Conceived as a product aimed at college age film makers and viewers, the idea expanded beyond the college years, thus the name, Fifth Year Productions.

The company was unveiled in late May at a press conference that featured Bartosiewicz and some new business partners, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and the Farrelly brothers.

Peter and Bobby Farrelly are screenwriters and directors of comedy films, including There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber, Me, Myself & Irene, Shallow Hal and Fever Pitch.

With a goal to begin production of a show this fall for airing in the first half of 2010, Banach and others at the fledgling company are busy on a number of fronts.

Banach now reports directly to Jim Kelly’s brother Dan Kelly.

“We’re building relationships with people in Rochester now and trying to get everything off the ground,” Banach said recently in a telephone interview.

The team he’s working with is focused on the development of different shows, and he’s been involved in some important creative meetings with folks from Hollywood. During those meetings, they made visits to Rochester Park Studios, located in a portion of Kodak Park, where back lots and sound stages are being built.

“We’re adamant about keeping as much as possible in Rochester and bringing jobs to Rochester,” he says, adding that the ultimate dream is to have Rochester become known as the home of Fifth Year Productions just as Bristol, Conn. is known as the home of ESPN.

Banach admits he’s wondered more than once about his good fortune in landing exactly where he needed to be after earning his degrees. His friends from film school pestered him to relocate to Los Angeles, like they did, after finishing school.

“They’re working in film vaults now,” he says, adding that Rochester has everything the company will need for the kinds of productions the company is interested in. “We have the history with Kodak, a vibrant art community...everything but the weather,” he says.

Bartosiewicz said he expects the company to add 250 employees to its downtown Rochester headquarters.

During the May press conference, Bobby Farrelly explained why the brothers agreed to become involved. “The most exciting content we’re seeing today is on the Internet. The world is changing in the whole area of what’s entertainment.” He said the company wants to tap into that to create a place for film makers to bring their new content.

The company’s web page is found at www.fifthyear.tv/.

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Tim Banach, fourth from left, with (from left) David Capece, business planning consultant, Bobby Farrelly, John Aymong and Fran Broderick Fifth Year team members and Peter Farrelly.