Off the wall & Up close

Off the Wall & Up Close

Travel Reality Show Dedicated to Featuring Small Buisness and Talented Artists


Aldea Gerard and Laura Thorne, the creators of Hey Alec Productions, LLC. are entrepreneurs and part of the local art scene, who work to drive economic growth through creating a thriving, sustainable Arts community. Gerard, a local artist, art curator and podcast host has focused her efforts on bolstering the arts in Syracuse through collaborative works and an appreciation of the local art community. Thorne, a social entrepreneur, writer, and podcast host, was nominated for a 2020 Economic Champions award for her efforts to promote small businesses and opportunities for artists in Syracuse. 

Gerard and Thorne also created the networking group Syracuse Artists Raising the Bar! in 2017, with the purpose of providing support, encouragement, and collaboration opportunities for artists to gain exposure in Syracuse and the surrounding areas.


“Off the Wall and Up Close” is an arts and culture travel show highlighting America's next best places to live and the local artists and businesses that make them special. While adventuring in different locations with guest artists, they will discuss the successes and challenges of the artist, things they love about living in their city and highlight other nearby cultural points of interest. 

 Off the Wall & Up Close is an arts and culture travel reality show that is being created to give much-needed exposure to local artist talent, creative small businesses, and hidden treasures in less-traveled but up-and-coming destinations. We're starting in Syracuse, not only because that is where we are currently residing but because Syracuse is experiencing a resurgence like many other cities around the country. As sea levels and cost of living rise in currently popular places, people will be seeking the next best places to invest and live; those places are where the best arts and culture exist.


We are dedicated to giving back by partnering and volunteering with organizations with missions to support youth and future artists and entrepreneurs. The success of this project will bring tourism and tourism dollars to Syracuse (our starting point), which will not only help these businesses to thrive but help policymakers and government take notice of the importance of art to the economy. 

Both Aldea and Laura are mentors. This project will allow us to give back to students in our STEAM programs to teach them how to bring their ideas and biggest dreams to life.

We are committed to diversity and inclusion in our team and on our show. Our pilot episode features three women, our future episodes feature artist guests of color, guest from the LGBT community, and from various forms of artistic expression and media. 


This may be our first foray into television but it is not our first project or business endeavor. We bring the skills to see this to the finish-line and  have ensembled a top-notch team to make sure we produce a quality binge-worthy show. 

Stephen Long Upstate Down

We are honored to have Upstate Down as our film and editing crew. 

Producer/Director, Stephen Long, is credited with Flavor of Love, Snooki and Jwoww, Mob Wives, Long Island Medium.

We are equally honored to work with Black Cub Productions, LLC. for our marketing photography and videography. We have a shared vision of "creating cross cultural dynamic stories that bring people together from all walks of life.

Black Cub Productions logo
Syracuse Film Logo

We are working closely with the Visit Syracuse Film Office which is the entertainment industry’s point of contact in the Central NY region for productions of all sizes. From commercials to feature films, we are here to facilitate between the project, the community, our municipalities and the local film and TV infrastructure.


There is no handbook or one specific way to make a TV show. The process is lengthy and expensive. We meet weekly to keep the complex parts moving forward. To date (8/14/2021) we have accomplished the following: 


We wanted to create a show that gives small businesses and artists the chance to be highlighted nationally. The success of other foodie travel shows has helped to bring tourists to towns and places people wouldn't normally travel to. As a result of these shows, the featured locations have been able to open new locations, hire more employees, or survive pandemics. 

But we didn't want to recreate shows that already existed. Instead, as Richard Koch describes in his book the 80/20 Principle, the best new ideas aren't new they are evolutions of existing successes. As such, we decided to blend concepts from other travel shows. 

Instead of featuring a comic, we'll feature a locally successful artist, giving them a moment in the spotlight alongside the businesses that we visit. Instead of focusing on food, we will focus on arts and culture (we will still eat food because everyone loves food!), and instead of being hosted by one person, we will have two different but well paired women host the show. 

Finally, this genre is not as complex or high budget to produce as a sitcom or docudrama. Our sets are real, our makeup is simple, and our dialogue is off the cuff (mostly). This will allow us to produce high-quality shows in less time so the impact reaches the communities sooner. 


We both moved to Syracuse just a few years ago. Aldea is from a small town outside of Syracuse, NY where everyone looks the same and there are a lot of cows. Laura is from Tampa Bay, a hodge podge of people of all types. Our perspectives are different but we have on passion in common - raising the economy through arts and culture.  

When we met in 2019, we merged our existing efforts to connect independent artists and help artists succeed with their businesses. Aldea was hosting an artist series podcast and Laura was coaching artists in business. In January 2021, an opportunity presented itself to come up with an idea to promote arts through television and that's where Off the Wall & Up Close was born. 

Thriving cities are built on thriving art cultures. People want to live in places where creativity and artistic expression are valued; art makes people happier. With an improved arts economy everyone benefits including the artists, the theaters, the galleries, the students who would potentially live here, existing and future residents. 

We created Off the Wall & Up Close to be a catalyst to gaining the recognition an Off the Wall place like Syracuse needs to attract visitors and future residents from near and far. 

- Aldea & Laura