News & Events

Not just a cameo appearance

By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Globe
April 6, 2014

maeda_06wefilm_we2Cast and crew from the movie “Tumbledown” use Concord Center as a backdrop while filming a street scene Wednesday morning. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)

Devens is getting its first taste of Hollywood, with New England Studios gearing up for its film production debut since opening its doors late last year.

“Tumbledown,” a romantic comedy starring Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall, has set up camp at the $41 million studio complex on the grounds of the former-Army-base-turned-corporate-park off Route 2 in Ayer, Harvard, and Shirley.

The indie film is using its offices as a headquarters, and plans to use the movie complex’s sound stage and production facilities during a two-day shoot slated for later this month, said Chris Byers, marketing director for New England Studios.

Meanwhile, the film’s crew and cast of 120 have been shooting scenes in area communities, taking over a women’s clothing shop in downtown Concord on Tuesday afternoon, a few days after shooting scenes at an isolated home on a lake in Groton.

For New England Studios, booking “Tumbledown” is an important step toward starting to fill its calendar, Byers said, adding, “We made a deal with them — they are going to be our test show.”

While the production is relatively modest by Hollywood standards, it will provide a real-life trial run that will help work out any remaining bugs, he said.

Since opening last fall, the studio has hammered out a number of glitches, including spotty cellphone reception inside the hall.

“I think it would probably calm a few nerves, coming in,” Byers said. “There are so many things you have to do, bugs to get worked out, when you open a building like this.”

New England Studios is hoping to follow up on its success by booking other productions, with leads including an entire cable television series and, in another case, the pilot for a new cable series, he said.

Lisa Strout, director of the Massachusetts Film Office, said there are already hopeful signs that word of the Devens complex is getting out to the Hollywood executives who decide where projects get made.

In a recent trip to Los Angeles, Strout said, she met with executives at various movie companies who mentioned the Devens studio complex and were eyeing what films might make a fit.

“New England Studios was a big topic,” she said.

Meanwhile, “Tumbledown” is getting lots of local attention as the producers and cast turn up to film scenes on location.

The romantic comedy is cast in the Maine woods, with Hannah (played by Hall) struggling to move on after the death of her famous musician husband, of whom she’s writing a biography. In strides Andrew (played by Sudeikis), a brash, professorial type from New York, to help with the book, according to a description by the production company, British Columbia-based Bron Studios.

The two pair up and sparks fly as Hannah and Andrew “begin to write the next chapter in their lives together,” the promotional material reads.

Other notable names include former “Glee” cast member Dianna Agron, Griffin Dunne, Blythe Danner, and Joe Manganiello, according to a statement by the studios. “Tumbledown’’ is director Sean Mewshaw’s first feature, and was written by first-time screenwriter Desiree Van Til.

The filmmakers shot some scenes in a home in the woods on Lost Lake in Groton, said Dawn Dunbar, executive assistant to the town manager.

That was followed by two days filming in Concord. Tuesday’s shoot took place inside the French Lessons shop on Walden Street, with its exterior remade into a book store, said Christoper Whelan, Concord’s town manager.

The production shut down the intersection at Main and Walden streets Wednesday morning to get street scenes.

To compensate the town for the disruptions, “Tumbledown” agreed to pay for the costs of extra police needed to control traffic at the scene, he said.

Movie executives also agreed to donate $2,500 to a town fund for promoting the community to tourists and other visitors, Whelan said.

Businesses lost some parking spaces but gained some attention and foot traffic from members of the crew, he said.

“It’s a little inconvenient, but I think it’s great to encourage the Massachusetts film industry, so we try to help out,” Whelan said.

Scott Van Voorhis can be reached at sbvanvoorhis@

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BOSTON- March 23, 2014 – The Massachusetts Film Office announces the filming of Tumbledown will begin principal photography in Massachusetts today. Tumbledown stars Jason Sudeikis (Horrible Bosses, We’re the Millers), Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3, The Town), Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood), Griffin Dunne (House of Lies, Dallas Buyers Club), and Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents, The Lucky One).

Sean Mewshaw will make his directorial debut of the script written by Desi Van Til.

Tumbledown is produced by Kristin Hahn, Aaron Gilbert and Margot Hand. Executive Producer is Desi Van Til.

“We are so happy to have this film come to fruition in North Central Massachusetts where we have found the same authentic and kind-hearted spirit as the small Maine town that we aim to replicate in the film,” said Desi Van Til. “We have been so warmly welcomed by the community here and we are honored to be the first production in the incredible facility of the New England Studios in Devens.”

The film revolves around a young widow (Hall) struggling to cope with the death of her husband, an acclaimed folk singer. Her life is interrupted when an unwelcome writer from New York (Sudeikis) comes to her rural Maine town to research her husband and his music, which changes her life in ways she never expected.

“We thank Desi Van Til and her producing partners for choosing Massachusetts, “says Lisa Strout, Director of the Massachusetts Film Office, “and we are pleased that so many of our residents are being hired to work on the film.”

Tumbledown is the second major production to be filmed in Massachusetts in 2014.


About the MFO
The Massachusetts Film Office is the official state agency charged with assisting movie-making in Massachusetts and marketing the state to national and international audiences. It is located at 10 Park Plaza, Boston – within the Mass. Office of Travel + Tourism. Lisa Strout, Director. Phone # 617-973-8400 Website:

For further information please contact:
Contact: Lisa Simmons
Director of Communications
Massachusetts Office of Tourism, Sports & Film

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Los Angeles, CA – Applications are now being accepted for the Women In Film Foundation’s 2014 Film Finishing Fund grants. The application period runs through June 6, 2014. Winners will be announced in October 2014.

Women In Film will give up to $15,000 in cash, in-kind and consultation grants for the selected entries. Women In Film International is making a great contribution for the 2014 grant cycle.

The Film Finishing Fund is run by Committee Co-Chairs Betsy Pollock and Nancy Rae Stone, and was started 29 years ago. Since its inception, the Film Finishing Fund has awarded more than $2 million worth of grants to over 170 films from all over the world. The Film Finishing Fund has an impressive track record selecting films for completion that went on to win major awards, distribution and network deals, including:

Cynthia Wade’s Freeheld, the 2008 Academy® Award-winner for Best Documentary Short Subject
Freida Lee Mock’s Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, the 1994 Academy® Award-winner for Best Documentary
Esther Robinson’s A Walk Into The Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory, 2007 Teddy Award Winner at the Berlin Film Festival
Maryam Keshavarz’s Circumstance, the 2011 Sundance Audience Award winner


To qualify for entry, submitted projects must be by, for or about women. Filmmakers must have completed at least 90% of principal photography, and have a rough cut at the time of application.

The program funds both short and long formats in all genres: narrative, documentary, educational, animated and experimental. Entrants do not have to be Women In Film members to apply for a grant, and WIF encourages international applications.

Detailed criteria for each category and a download of the application can be obtained at

Women In Film published an interview series on with notable Film Finishing Fund recipients called “Grant Winners Talk”. The interviews are available at

2013 grant winners include Pelin Uzay, producer of The Bravest, the Boldest, nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize At Sundance 2014

The 2014 Women In Film Foundation Film Finishing Fund Committee:

Betsy Pollock, Associate Dean of Production, American Film Institute Conservatory
Nancy Rae Stone, Producer

Lisa Gewirtz
Ellen Olivier
Chevonne O’Shaughnessy
Marion Rosenberg
Cathleen Summers

Women In Film (WIF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women achieve their highest potential within the global entertainment, communication and media industries. WIF’s fundamental belief is that entertainment created by and for women should represent 50% of all content worldwide, in sync with the voice of the population itself. WIF’s mandate is to ensure gender parity for women in management positions as well as in front of and behind the camera, and to preserve the legacies of all women within the media industries. Founded in 1973, WIF and its Women In Film Foundation provide for members camaraderie, networking opportunities, educational programs, scholarships, grants, film finishing funds, access to employment opportunities and mentorships, as well as enabling members who exhibit advanced and innovative skills numerous practical services, as well as participation in the organization’s film and television shadowing programs and its award-winning PSA program. For more information visit

Press Contact:
Catherine Olim / PMK*BNC / / 310-289-6200

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Five Travel Destinations From This Year’s Oscar Hits

By Samuel Faktorow
Huffington Post
March 6, 2013

Oscar nominated and Oscar winning actors, writers, directors, technicians, and other artists are riding high on waves of praise right now following the 86th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. What is beyond the performances, costumes, and music, though? As they say in real estate: location, location, location.

The settings for this year’s most honored films were as varied as their themes and ideas. New York City roars with orgiastic ferocity in The Wolf of Wall Street while the Great Plains quietly hum their lonely requiems in August: Osage County. Locations become characters of their own in many movies. Plan your next trip to one of these star-studded Oscar locales.

1. Roscrea, Ireland from Philomena


Founded in the 6th century and known as Ros Cré in Irish Gaelic, this historic market town in County Tipperary is only an hour and a half drive from Dublin, making it a great place for a day trip. It is a designated Irish Heritage Town due to so many of its buildings being incredibly well preserved and maintained. Some of the most famous locations include the remains of the 15th century Franciscan Friary and Monaincha and Sean Ross Abbeys, as well as other towers and castles dating as far back as the 13th century

2. Tiburon and Belvedere, California from Blue Jasmine


Occupying the Tiburon Peninsula in affluent Marin County, Tiburon and Belvedere are small towns outside of San Francisco that are easily accessible by ferry, bike, or car. City law prohibits restaurants and stores from opening in Belvedere in order to preserve its natural beauty. Two yacht clubs, the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere and the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, allow for a thriving sailing community in the area. Tiburon is also home to many specialty shops and hosts “Friday Nights on Main,” an alfresco dining festival that takes place every Friday evening in spring and summer.

3. Loup Rivers Scenic Byway, Nebraska from Nebraska


Nebraska Highway 11 and Nebraska Highway 91 meander through the Sand Hills in central Nebraska from Dunning to Wood River via Burwell. Tiny farming communities and miles of empty road make this trek seem long and lonely, but the Sand Hills and abundant prairie and grassland wildlife make for breathtaking panoramas of Middle America. Make Grand Island your jumping off point as you explore the North, Middle, and South Loup Rivers; working guest ranches; and Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park.

4. The Fairmont Copley Plaza, Massachusetts from American Hustle


Located in Boston’s famous Back Bay, The Fairmont Copley Plaza is recognized as one of the Historic Hotels in America after being built on the original site of the Museum of Fine Arts in Copley Square. The history doesn’t stop there; the Fairmont Copley has hosted every single U.S. president since Taft, royalty from around the world, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor. Also in the neighborhood are other architectural marvels, including the John Hancock Tower, Henry Hobson Richardson’s Trinity Church, and Charles Follen McKim’s Boston Public Library.

5. Space from Gravity


Space tourism is a rapidly growing industry as more and more people are standing behind this new travel trend and movement. So far, only the Russian Space Agency has sent tourists to space, but startups like Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures are looking to send people to space later this year using specially designed spacecraft by companies like Bristol Spaceplanes. Pinch your pennies, though, because one ticket for a seat on Virgin Galactic costs $250,000.

Follow Samuel Faktorow on Twitter:

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American Hustle’ puts Boston back in Oscar spotlight

By Gayle Fee
Boston Herald
February 19, 2014

From left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from American Hustle.

From left, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from American Hustle.

When the Academy Awards are handed out a week from Sunday, “American Hustle” has a shot at being only the second made-in-Boston flick to score the big one: Best Picture.

But David O. Russell’s Abscam flick, the prohibitive favorite in the best pic race when it picked up back-to-back Golden Globe and SAG Awards, has seen its fortunes fade over the past few weeks. It is now seen as running behind “12 Years A Slave” and dead even with “Gravity” in the race for the gold guy.

With 10 nominations, “Hustle” has a chance to score in every one of the major categories. Besides the aforementioned Best Picture contest, Christian Bale is nominated for Best Actor, Amy Adams for Best Actress, Russell
for Best Director, Bradley Cooper for Best Supporting Actor and Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress.

So there should be at least one or two additions to the Hub’s Academy Award trophy case when the curtain closes well after midnight Sunday.

But it remains to be seen if Oscar Night 2014 can top 2006, when “The Departed” scored the Best Picture win and Martin Scorsese nabbed his first Best Director statuette.

Unlike “Hustle,” which was filmed in Boston but set in New Jersey, “The Departed” was loaded with local color including home-grown stars Matt Damon as a John Connolly-esque cop and Mark Wahlberg, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Not to mention Jack Nicholson who played a rip-roaring version of Southie crime lord Whitey Bulger.

Other locally made flicks have come close to the big one, including 2010’s “The Fighter,” also directed by Russell and starring Wahlberg as Lowell boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo took home supporting trophies but the film lost out to “The King’s Speech.” (Also nominated for Best Picture that year was “The Social Network,” which was partially shot in Cambridge.)

In 2003, the Clint Eastwood-directed “Mystic River,” based on the novel by Boston writer Dennis Lehane, couldn’t knock off “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” But Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won in their respective acting categories. In 1999 the made-in-western-Mass. “Cider House Rules” fell to “American Beauty.”

But at least local flicks were part of the Oscar conversation. Because until 1997, when two kids from Cambridge made the blockbuster “Good Will Hunting,” which scored nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Boston films weren’t getting regular invites to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. “GWH” lost out to “Titanic” that year but Robin Williams won a Best Supporting Actor statue and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck famously took home the Best Screenplay award, launching a decade and a half of nearly non-stop movie-making in the Bay State.

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

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Joyce Maynard Teaches the Labor Day Stars How to Bake a Pie

By Joyce Maynard
Parade Magazine
January 18, 2014

(Dale Robinette)

(Dale Robinette)

In the summer of 2012, I traveled to a town in Massachusetts to teach actors Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet how to make a pie. I had my favorite wood-handled pastry blender and my mother’s rolling pin packed in my suitcase along with my lucky apron. Maybe I’d never star in a movie, but my pie would.

A few years back I wrote a novel called Labor Day, about a convict on the run who hides out in the house of a lonely single mother with a 13-year-old son. When I thought about how to get across the tender side of this man, Frank, a picture came to mind. He’d show the boy, Henry, and his mother, Adele, with whom he’s falling in love, the art of pie making.

I bake a good pie myself—crust in particular. So when I got to the part in my novel where Frank explains how it’s done, his instructions are the ones I always give: Add only the bare minimum of cold water and don’t overhandle the dough. Roll out on wax paper. … Above all else, relax. We’re talking pie, not soufflé.

My pie-teaching days began the summer my mother—a great baker herself—was dying of cancer. Nearly every day over those months, as friends came by to see her, I baked a pie. ­After her death, I started teaching others, using her method.

Homemade pie is a gift of love. You don’t need fancy equipment or expensive ingredients. If you’re lucky, you pick the fruit, or someone gives it to you. In fact—getting back to Labor Day—that’s how Frank comes by his pie filling: A neighbor stops by with a bucket of overripe peaches.

“I’ll have to throw these out,” Adele says to Frank.

“I have a better idea,” he tells her, reaching for a bowl.

Not long after Labor Day was published, the director Jason Reitman called to say he wanted to make my novel into a movie. And would I teach the actor playing Frank to make the pie? Months passed before I got the news that Kate Winslet had been cast to play Adele, with Josh Brolin in the role of Frank.

When I arrived in Shelburne Falls, Mass., the ingredients for the lesson had all been laid out in a local resident’s kitchen: bowls of fresh peaches, flour, sugar, salt. As Frank explains in my book, Crisco makes a flakier crust, but butter gives more flavor. So we had both on hand.

Kate Winslet showed up first, even though she wouldn’t be the primary baker in the film; she said she’d never made a pie and wanted to learn how. But my focus that day would be on the man who had to look, onscreen, as if he had complete command of pie crust.

I knew Josh Brolin only from movies where he played the tough guy. But that day, rolling out the dough, he talked about his mother—who’d died young, like mine—and about her baking. You could tell he was a natural the moment he started peeling those peaches, using a straight-blade knife, not a parer, and handling it like a pro.

We made three pies that ­afternoon and ate them on the spot. Josh told me later that he made a pie almost every day that summer—same as I had, so many summers earlier, in my mother’s kitchen.

When I saw the movie with my two sons, and we got to the pie scene, my older son grabbed my arm. “That’s just how you do it, Mom,” he said.

In fact, it’s just how my mother did it. This may be why I always cry when I get to that part in the movie. I think of her and I like to imagine that when people come home from seeing Labor Day, they too may feel inspired to bake a pie.

To read an excerpt from the novel Labor Day, click here.

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Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2014

By Mark Sells
MovieMaker Magazine
January 10, 2014

It’s MovieMaker’s 2014 edition of the Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker! We’re counting down through our Top 10 Big Cities, Top 5 Small Cities, and Top 5 Towns—releasing one location a day for the entire month of January. The full list, published in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2014 issue, will be available on newsstands January 28.

Unlike previous years where locations were pitted against each other in a single pool, this year we separated the list into three distinct categories: Big Cities (pop. 500,000 and up), Small Cities (pop. 100,000 to 500,000), and Towns (pop. 100,000 and under). After months of research, interviews, and mathematical formulas, we boiled the rankings down to the essential elements. All locations were rated according to six criteria: Film Production in 2013 (shooting days, number of productions, dollars generated), Film Community and Culture (film schools, festivals, independent theaters, film organizations), Access to Equipment and Facilities, Tax Incentives, Cost of Living, and a General category that included lifestyle, weather, and transportation. Did your place of choice make the list? If not, maybe you should choose again if you’re serious about rooting yourself in a location that’s conducive to your career and life goals – or drop us a comment proposing a place we overlooked this year!

Top 10 Big Cities

#6. Boston

Thanks largely to the influence of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, and a few other talented filmmakers, the presence of Boston on the big screen has never been more noticeable. Starting with Good Will Hunting (1997) and running through the last decade, some of the most compelling and memorable films have emerged from the city proper, capturing its heart and soul: The Boondock Saints, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, The Town, The Social Network, The Fighter, Labor Day, and of course, Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning masterpiece, The Departed.


As one of the oldest cities in the US, Boston, Massachusetts is divided into 21 diverse neighborhoods, with Irish and Italian influence, and deeply rooted in American history. After all, it’s the birthplace of the American Revolution—the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Battle of Bunker Hill, etc. Boston is also a city of many firsts: the site of the first public school, the first subway system and the oldest park in the US (Boston Common). A world leader in innovation, there are more than 100 colleges and universities in town, many with film schools, like Boston University, Boston College, Brandeis, Clark, and Harvard. Take your pick.


Under the Massachusetts Film Office and Boston Film Bureau, filmmakers may receive several tax incentives, including a 25 percent production credit on a $50K minimum spend (no project cap or residency requirements) and a 25 percent payroll credit and a sales tax exemption. Even though Boston has one of the highest costs of living in the US, you can’t beat the uniqueness of its culture, language (Boston English), architecture, community, and place in history.

For more information about filming in Boston, visit the Massachusetts Film Office.

Check back every day for the rest of January to see what other places made the list!

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10 Outstanding Motion Pictures and Television Programs Inducted
into the AFI Almanac of the Art Form

December 9, 2013 – The American Film Institute (AFI) today announced the official selections of AFI AWARDS 2013 – 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding television programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of the year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image.

An almanac documenting works of excellence that mark a moment in time, AFI AWARDS is also the only national honor for the community’s creative ensembles as a whole, acknowledging the collaborative nature of the art form. Honorees are selected based on works which best advance the art of the moving image, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form, inspire audiences and artists alike, and/or make a mark on American society.


“AFI AWARDS is a moment for the most accomplished storytellers of 2013 to pause and be appreciated – not as competitors, but as a community,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “Acknowledging their collective contributions to America’s rich cultural legacy is both AFI’s national mandate – and our honor.”

Marking the 14th chapter in the American Film Institute’s ongoing chronicle, AFI AWARDS selections are made through AFI’s unique jury process in which AFI members, scholars, film and television artists, critics and AFI Trustees determine the most outstanding achievements of the year, as well as provide a contextual rationale for each selection.

This year’s juries – one for film and one for television – were chaired by producers and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Tom Pollock (former Vice Chairman of MCA, Chairman of Universal Pictures) for the movies and Rich Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for television, and includes award-winning artists such as Jon Avnet, Anne V. Coates, Roman Coppola, D.C. Fontana, Nancy Meyers and Noah Wyle; film historian Leonard Maltin; scholars from prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts programs (Princeton, Syracuse, USC, Wesleyan); AFI Board of Trustees; and critics from leading media outlets such as Entertainment Weekly, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone Magazine, Time Magazine, TV Guide, USA Today and more.

AFI will honor the creative ensembles for each of the selections at an invitation-only luncheon on Friday, January 10, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

Verizon Digital Media Services is the Digital Sponsor of AFI AWARDS and luncheon. Audi of America has supported AFI for the past 10 years and is proud to return as a major sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors include Stella Artois and American Airlines, the official airline of the American Film Institute, providing travel support throughout the year.

Additional information, including awards criteria, can be found at later today. Press coverage of the AFI Awards luncheon is very limited and by invitation only. Photos will be available online through AFI by 5:00 p.m. immediately following the event on January 10, 2014.

About Verizon Digital Media Services
Verizon Digital Media Services offers enterprises a suite of robust and flexible end-to-end video solutions for best-in-class TV Everywhere and superior over-the-top experiences. Built on one of the world’s most advanced networks with a video-optimized platform, Verizon Digital Media Services delivers a vast range of content management and delivery services with carrier-grade quality, reliability, security and scale. For more information about Digital Media Services, visit

About Audi
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. Audi was a top-performing luxury brand in Europe during 2012, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S. Through 2016; AUDI AG will invest about $17 billion on new products, facilities and technologies. Visit, or for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award – the highest honor for a career in film – now in its 42nd year; AFI Awards, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI Fest presented by Audi, AFI Docs presented by Audi and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world renowned AFI Conservatory, recognized for the quality of its instructors and speakers and its notable alumni. For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and

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Newport Beach Film Festival 2014 – Call for Entries

The 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival will spotlight over 350 films from over 50 different countries, as well as premiere galas, an industry seminar series, spotlights, and question and answer sessions with filmmakers. Submit your film now for the chance to be part of the 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival!

Key Submission Deadlines:
• November 22, 2013
• December 20, 2013
• January 24, 2014

To submit, visit

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Lincoln is attracting more film-makers

By Katherine Mierzwa
The Lincoln Journal
November 14, 2013

A sign directs production crew members to their destination.(COURTESY PHOTO / KATHERINE MIERZWA). Follow us: @LincolnJournal1

A sign directs production crew members to their destination.
Follow us: @LincolnJournal1

Lincoln — Another feature film crew was shooting in Lincoln this week – did you notice?

Probably not.

That’s because the film crews and Lincoln town officials work to keep things low-key when crews are shooting in town. And the production crew is keeping both the name of the film and its stars hush-hush for now to facilitate filming.

A hayride scene was filmed on Monday and Tuesday at Drumlin Farm, but the only thing you might have seen was a parking lot full of rental trucks in the parking lot, or lots of cars belonging to the crew and extras parked at the deCordova’s lot, or a black-and-white “Crew Parking” sign at the corner of Weston Road and Lincoln Road.

Earlier this year scenes from the movie “Captain Phillips” with Tom Hanks were shot at Matlock Farm on Old Lexington Road. In 2009, a fight scene for Mel Gibson’s “Edge of Darkness” was shot in a private modern house on Tabor Hill Road. Highway scenes along the road into Hanscom Field appeared in the movies “Mall Cop 2” with Kevin James and “Grown Ups 2” with Adam Sandler. And scenes for the 1990 movie “Mermaids” starring Cher were shot here, too.

“I love Lincoln,” says Charlie Harrington, a 30-year veteran film location manager. “It’s a really special place with old New England homes that are still owned by their original families. It’s got a large selection of 20th century modern homes and it has lots of beautiful open land that can look like Vermont or New Hampshire, but it’s only 15 miles from Boston as the crow flies.”

That’s important to a film production whose administrative offices are in Boston and whose crew and cast are housed in Boston hotels.

“We want locations that are within 30 miles of Boston so we can minimize our travel time and costs,” says Mark Fitzgerald, Boston’s leading Hollywood film location manager and scout. “We also need a place with lots of parking for our big equipment trucks, along with car parking for cast, crew, and lots of extras.” In Lincoln the deCordova Museum and the DPW lot on Lewis Street have taken the overflow parking for recent films, said Town Administrator Tim Higgins.

Both location managers say that Lincoln has another good thing going for it — it’s very “film friendly.” Fitzgerald said that Police Chief Kevin Mooney and Lt. Kevin Kennedy have been great to work with – helpful and accommodating to the needs of the production crew. Kennedy is equally complimentary about the location managers that he has dealt with.

Our job is protect public safety in Lincoln when these crews come to town. It’s always been a pleasure to deal with these location managers who respect our town and are cognizant of our residents,” he said

And we’ll probably be seeing more filming in Lincoln in the future. The Massachusetts Film Office promotes filming in the state by offering a good package of tax incentives to attract film and TV production to Massachusetts. Once here, the office works closely with location scouts to find the potential perfect filming location.

Think your house or property belongs in a film?

You can check a list for film, TV or commercial production possibilities on the website

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November 14, 2013

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment
617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077 (cell)


A panel to discuss the Massachusetts film industry and how local businesses can benefit from new production studios, including the recently opened New England Studios in Devens. Experts in the movie business will discuss prospects for and activity in the Commonwealth and ways businesses and higher education institutions can connect with the growing industry. A tour of New England Studios will follow the panel.

Lisa Strout, Massachusetts Film Office Director
Chris Byers, New England Studios Director of Marketing & Operations
Steve Catalano, Catalano Companies Managing Partner
Todd Arnow, Film Producer

Thursday, November 21, 2013, 9 a.m.

100 Studio Way ( Devens

For more information, including driving directions to Devens, please visit

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Marblehead goes tropical for Hollywood film

By Jonathan Phelps
The Salem News
November 13, 2013

MARBLEHEAD — With the weather getting colder, Marblehead seems a million miles away from tropical Tahiti. But with a little Hollywood magic, no one will know the difference for an upcoming movie.

Several actors and actresses for “The Forger,” including John Travolta, filmed scenes recently at Devereux Beach, which will double as a tropical island in the movie. This is an amazing feat, seeing that it was a frigid 31 degrees out, producer Bart Rosenblatt said in an email to The Salem News.

“It’s the end of the film, which takes place on an island like Tahiti. We filmed Marblehead for Tahiti,” he said.

Courtesy photo Devereux Beach was a frigid 31 degrees when this was shot last week, but Hollywood magic will make it look like a tropical isle for the film "The Forger."

Courtesy photo Devereux Beach was a frigid 31 degrees when this was shot last week, but Hollywood magic will make it look like a tropical isle for the film
“The Forger.”

The production started filming in and around the Boston area last month, including scenes at Denny’s restaurant and EconoLodge in Danvers, in Lynn and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

They filmed in Marblehead last week for about six hours during a one-day shoot near a cabana built as part of the movie set. While the scene features beach chairs, hammocks and tiki umbrellas, Rosenblatt acknowledged that it will take some post-production work to pull off the scene.

“We will digitally enhance the water color and add palm trees so it will look tropical,” he said.

During the shooting, Travolta was seen wearing jeans and a blue T-shirt, while Sheridan was in a hammock sipping a tropical drink. Actors and actresses — several in bathing suits — wore large jackets and blankets when not shooting.

The scene also features Oscar-winner Christopher Plummer, who starred in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Beginners,” and teen actor Tye Sheridan, known for his work in “Tree of Life” and “Mud.”

The movie is about a second-generation petty thief (Travolta), who arranges to get out of prison to spend time with his ailing son (Sheridan) by taking on a job with his father to pay back the syndicate that arranged his release. Plummer players Travolta’s father in the film.

This isn’t the first time Hollywood magic has been used to transform Marblehead into a distant land.

A home on Marblehead Neck was fashioned to resemble a property in Los Angeles for “Grown Ups,” an Adam Sandler movie that came out in 2010. Faux palm trees were brought in, and a massive fake gate was erected, along with an entire wing to the house to complete the scene.

When the film company was done, all of those things disappeared, as if by magic.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.

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MA Film Office to speak on BNA International Film & TV Finance Summit Panel


International Film & TV Finance Summit
December 2 & 3, 2013
The Marriott Eastside Hotel, New York, NY

Bloomberg BNA is pleased to announce the International Film & TV Finance Summit. This long running event brings together a senior roster of film finance professionals.

Learn from and network with the production, finance and legal sectors of the motion picture and TV industry. Learn the financing sources, structures, issues and other techniques you need to know to get your film or television project produced, marketed and distributed in today’s global marketplace

Here’s why you can’t afford to miss this summit:

• Newly added session on crowd funding accompanied by a case study
• The role of banks and specialized finance companies in providing financing for films production
• Learn via case studies how medium to low budget films are made, financed and distributed
• Ways to generate financial support for films utilizing brand integration and product placement
• Understand how sales agents and distributors can generate the domestic and foreign distribution you need to make your film a success
• Understand how to utilize new digital platforms for distributing media content into the home and onto hand held devices

For more information visit

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John Travolta films ‘The Forger’ at MFA

By Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein
Boston Globe
November 10, 2013

 “The Forger” shot scenes at the Museum of Fine Arts (with star John Travolta, above) and in Marblehead. (MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS)

“The Forger” shot scenes at the Museum of Fine Arts (with star John Travolta, above) and in Marblehead.

In “Night at the Museum,” Ben Stiller’s character discovers that the exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History come magically to life after dark. So imagine our excitement when the producers of “The Forger,” the heist film now shooting at the Museum of Fine Arts, invited us to the set the other night. We envisioned ourselves mingling with some of those full-figured gals painted by Peter Paul Rubens. Ooh la la.

No such luck. What we learned is that moviemaking can be terribly tedious work, even when done amid masterpieces by a decent cast that includes John Travolta, Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer, and the adorable Abigail Spencer.

Scenes were also shot in Marblehead. (HANDOUT)

Scenes were also shot in Marblehead. (HANDOUT)

Written by Medford native Richard D’Ovidio, “The Forger” is about a second-generation art thief, played by Travolta, who gets out of prison to spend time with his ailing son, played by teenager Tye Sheridan. The 83-year-old Plummer plays Travolta’s father and partner in crime. In the past five weeks, director Philip Martin has filmed scenes at Logan Airport, South Station, Boston Common, Downtown Crossing, and a beach in Marblehead made to look like Tahiti. (It was 29 degrees on the day of filming.) However, it’s the museum on Huntington Avenue that has a starring role.

“The MFA is really the reason we wanted to make this in Boston,” says Bart Rosenblatt, one of the producers.

“The Forger” is the first big-budget movie ever filmed at the MFA. The museum’s facade is glimpsed in “Prozac Nation” and an episode of “Spenser for Hire,” and MFA curators have been in several documentaries, but there’s been nothing like this. As a result, security during last week’s shoot was intense. Under the watchful eye of museum staff, the cast and crew worked from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. on three successive nights. Lights and cameras could come no closer than 12 inches to the artwork, and the museum required escorts for anyone walking around the building.

“And when we left in the morning, we couldn’t take the paintings with us,” joked Rosenblatt, who grew up in Newton.

On the night we were there, Travolta didn’t emerge from his plush trailer until sometime after 1 a.m. (By contract, he’s not obligated to talk to us — and he didn’t.) But we did watch Spencer shoot a scene — over and over — in the rotunda adjacent to the William I. Koch Gallery, and we also got to marvel at Plummer, who seemed alert despite being up way past his bedtime. (The octogenarian actor almost shuffled into a scene he wasn’t in at one point, prompting a production assistant to mumble, “Uh oh, Plummer’s wandering.”)

Filming in Boston has been a blast for the cast, some of whom got to go to Game 6 of the World Series. Travolta, it turns out, was at Fenway for five Red Sox playoff games during the postseason, and the home team won every one of them. (Note to Sox PR maestro Charles Steinberg: Consider giving Vinnie Barbarino his own box at the ballpark.)

What to do about the Boston accent? German actor Marcus Thomas, who plays Travolta’s best friend, told us he’s “not going too Southie” in the movie, but he has managed to pick up a little of the local dialect.

“The Teamsters are good,” said Thomas. “Hang around with them an hour and you get a [expletive] idea of what’s going on.”

Also waiting patiently on set was Mike Handelman, a curly-haired actor from Cambridge who plays Museum Guard #1 in the movie. The night before, the 25-year-old Handelman had drawn his weapon and fired several shots at Travolta’s character during a getaway scene.

“I shot a gun at John Travolta,” said the actor, looking a little flushed from the experience. “It was pretty stressful, but I think the director liked it.”

As we strolled — with a museum escort — through the Koch Gallery, where a dozen or so extras were waiting amid Flemish masterpieces, tapestries from the Palazzo Barberini, and Nicolas Poussin’s “Mars and Venus,” Rosenblatt said the MFA makes a movie set. And Travolta has been a treat to work with.

“The museum’s been great,” he said. “But step No. 1 if you want to make a movie is get a movie star.”

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Winter hits Main Street in Gloucester

By Sean Horgan
Gloucester Times
November 6, 2013

Cape Pond Ice takes on key ‘Olive’ role

Mike Springer photos Actor Richard Jenkins walks past piles of snow and an early 1960s-model Ford Falcon Futura while filming a scene for the HBO miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" yesterday on Center Street. Jenkins plays pharmacist Henry Kitteridge, husband of the title character, in the film

Actor Richard Jenkins walks past piles of snow and an early 1960s-model Ford Falcon Futura while filming a scene for the HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” yesterday on Center Street. Jenkins plays pharmacist Henry Kitteridge, husband of the title character, in the film. (MIKE SPRINGER/Gloucester Daily Times)

GLOUCESTER — Winter came early to Main Street yesterday.

Exactly one week after the end of the baseball season, snow littered the streets and sidewalks of a portion of Gloucester’s hilly commercial stretch, offering a precursor of New England things to come.

And whom do we have to thank for this early dusting? Confused weather gods? Global warming? A vengeful Jack Frost?

A giant diffusion screen is hoisted from a cherry picker Wednesday during filming of the HBO miniseries "Olive Kitteridge" on Main Street in downtown Gloucester. (Mike Springer)

A giant diffusion screen is hoisted from a cherry picker Wednesday during filming of the HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” on Main Street in downtown Gloucester. (MIKE SPRINGER/Gloucester Daily Times)

None of the above. The winter wonderland came courtesy of Gloucester’s own Cape Pond Ice and the magic of the movies.

The cast and crew of the upcoming HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” have been shooting scenes this week on Main Street — scenes that required turning Passports restaurant into a pharmacy and the intersection of Main and Center streets into a winter tableau.

Cue the cool guys at Cape Pond Ice, special-effects snowmakers to the stars.

Beginning about 5:30 a.m. yesterday, Cape Pond Ice owner Scott Memhard and his crew began hauling four truckloads of the special-effects snow to the movie set. By the time they finished around 9 a.m., they had dumped about 36 tons of the stuff to be spread throughout the scene.

(L) Actor Richard Jenkins looks out the front door of the 'Village Pharmacy,' set inside the Passports restaurant building on Main Street in Gloucester. (MIKE SPRINGER/Gloucester Daily Times) (R) Dressed for winter, actress Rosemarie DeWitt sits on a chair on the set of "Olive Kitteridge" on Main Street in Gloucester yesterday. DeWitt is known for her work on a number of TV series and for her performance in the title role of the 2008 Jonathan Demme film "Rachel Getting Married." (MIKE SPRINGER/Gloucester Daily Times)

(L) Actor Richard Jenkins looks out the front door of the ‘Village Pharmacy,’ set inside the Passports restaurant building on Main Street in Gloucester.

(R) Dressed for winter, actress Rosemarie DeWitt sits on a chair on the set of “Olive Kitteridge” on Main Street in Gloucester yesterday. DeWitt is known for her work on a number of TV series and for her performance in the title role of the 2008 Jonathan Demme film “Rachel Getting Married.”
(MIKE SPRINGER/Gloucester Daily Times)

This was not Cape Pond Ice’s first foray into providing filmmakers with a taste of winter during a time of year when nature’s climactic heart is elsewhere.

”We provided special-effects snow at that specific location, in fact, when Dustin Hoffman and Susan Sarandon and Jake Gyllenhaal were filming a movie called ‘Babies in Black,’ which got released as ‘Midnight Mile,’ I think,” Memhard said.

Cape Pond Ice has provided a similar service for the seminal Gloucester flick, “The Perfect Storm,” as well as “The Crucible,” “The Good Son,” “Ciderhouse Rules,” “The Preacher’s Son” and a host of others.

Memhard and his ice elves produce the special-effect snow in a special snow-ice blower that pulverizes the crystals to a very, very fine grade at a rate of about 5 tons an hour. It requires about 40 gallons of water to produce 1 ton.

And how long will it last?

“Well, that’s a gambling question, isn’t it?” Memhard said late yesterday afternoon. “If it was (Tuesday), which was about 15 degrees cooler, it would have lasted a lot longer than it did today. We were prepared to do an additional snow delivery if they needed it. But the director seemed satisfied.”

As was Memhard — and why not? There’s no business like snow business.

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Labor Day Movie Official Trailer (In theaters January 2014)

LABOR DAY, was filmed in filmed in Acton, Belchertown, Mansfield, Medfield, Medway, Natick, and Shelburne, Massachusetts in 2012.

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Best TV & Film Tours Around the World

Huffington Post
Jessica Spiegel for Viator

Taking a vacation can be all about escape — and the same can be said about losing ourselves in the movies and TV shows we love. It’s only natural, then, for film and TV buffs to combine the two when we travel by visiting famous filming locations around the world.

Sometimes you’ll find out that a story set in one place is actually filmed in another place entirely (or, worse yet, on a soundstage or studio with a green screen!) — but in some cases, the location is so important that it almost becomes a character in the story. Here are some of the best film and TV tours around the world that will let you get up close and personal with the destinations behind your favorite shows.

Downton Abbey

Photo credit: JBUK_Planet via Flickr.

Photo credit: JBUK_Planet via Flickr.

We’ve fallen in love with the beleaguered Crawley family over three seasons, but it’s hard to say whether we would be as enthralled if the spectacular Highclere Castle wasn’t the setting for the fictitious Downton Abbey. Highclere has been a family home for hundreds of years, and even today there’s a real-life Earl and his family living in the castle. A private tour of Downton Abbey film locations includes a private chauffeur and guide, and you’ll see both Highclere Castle and the Oxfordshire village of Bampton where other scenes from “Downton Abbey” are filmed.

Browse: Downton Abbey Tours

Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit

Photo credit: Bobbi Lee Hichton.

Photo credit: Bobbi Lee Hichton.

Peter Jackson brought the fantasy world of Middle Earth to beautiful reality in his home country of New Zealand. Although some of the fanciful elements were created in studios and computers, New Zealand’s stunning natural landscapes made it instantly obvious why Jackson was the right man to bring Tolkien’s visions to life. In many cases, the structures built for the films have been removed, but the set of Hobbiton still exists — and LOTR fans will recognize the backdrops for famous scenes from Edoras, Rivendell, Helm’s Deep, Minas Tirith, and Isengard. There are several options for Lord of the Rings and Hobbiton Tours in New Zealand, depending on which locations you want to check out.

Read more about Lord of the Rings

Ice Road Truckers

Ice Road Trucker simulation

Ice Road Trucker simulation

It’s unlikely that anyone watching Ice Road Truckers would think that doing that job full-time would be better than watching the show from the comfort of a warm living room, but visitors to Anchorage can at least get an inside look at what the task is actually like with the Ice Road Trucker Big Rig Experience. During the two to three hour tour you’ll go on a guided tour of a real transportation yard at the port of Anchorage, peek inside a modern sleeper truck, and actually get ten minutes behind the wheel of a big rig simulator to find out what driving on the ice road is really like.

New York TV & Movie Sites

Find the fire station used in Ghostbusters in New York

Find the fire station used in Ghostbusters in New York

The Big Apple has served as the backdrop for more films and TV shows than you can probably count, but sometimes the scenery is particularly memorable or important to the story. Grab your gal pals for a Sex and the City Hotspots Tour of filming locations such as Charlotte’s art gallery, Miranda’s cupcake bakery, and a bar the ladies frequented. Take a day trip to New Jersey on The Sopranos Sites Tour during which you’ll see the Bada Bing bar, the place where Chris was shot, and the diner booth where Tony sat in the final scene of the series.

See how the other half lives with a Gossip Girl Sites Tour of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, with stops at the hotel where the Bass and Van der Woodsen families live, the swanky building Blair calls home, the Henri Bendel shop, and Humphrey’s favorite bakery. Head for an NBC Studio Tour to see where they film The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Dateline, and Saturday Night Live. You can also go on a New York TV and Movie Sites Tour to see more than 60 film locations for shows like Friends, Will and Grace, The Devil Wears Prada, I Am Legend, How I Met Your Mother, and Seinfeld or a Central Park Movie Sites Walking Tour to see filming locations for When Harry Met Sally, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ghostbusters, and Love Story.

Browse TV and movie site tours in NYC

Harry Potter

Leadenhall Market, featured in Harry Potter films

Leadenhall Market, featured in Harry Potter films

Who among us hasn’t watched the Harry Potter films and wished we could be transported to that magical world? Well, even if you can’t conjure up any spells when you wave a magic wand, you can visit some of the places where the Harry Potter films were created. From the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour and Harry Potter walking tours in London to multi-day tours of Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland, you can satisfy aspiring witches and wizards of all ages with these Harry Potter tours.

Read more about Harry Potter in London

Hawaii TV & Movie Sites

50 First Dates film location

50 First Dates film location

You’ll probably have plenty of reasons to do nothing more than lie on the beach during a Hawaii vacation, but visiting the many Hawaii locations featured in movies and TV shows actually means you’ll see some of the most beautiful spots on the islands. On Kauai, you can take a six hour Kauai Movie Sites Tour that includes 13 filming locations for shows like Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Gilligan’s Island, The Amazing Race, and Tropic Thunder. You’ll also get lunch at Tahiti Nui, where part of The Descendants was filmed.

On Oahu, you can take a five hour Hummer tour of Oahu TV and Movie Locations, with stops at filming locations for Lost, Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, Karate Kid II, Godzilla, and Hawaii Five-0. If you prefer a little more physical activity, you can take a mountain biking tour of Kaaawa Valley that gets you up close and personal with filming locations for Lost, Jurassic Park and Godzilla.

Pawn Stars

Rick’s Restorations

Rick’s Restorations

Las Vegas sometimes feels like one big film set, but it’s the recent success of a reality show that’s drawing fans in droves to a real-life pawn shop in Sin City. Pawn Stars is filmed on location at the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, and the guys you’ve come to love on the show — Rick Harrison, his family, and employees — are often in the shop themselves whether filming is going on or not. In addition to seeing the pawn shop, a Pawn Stars Tour of Las Vegas also includes a stop at Rick’s Restorations, where retro appliances are refurbished, and the Toy Shack, a vintage toy appraiser.

The Walking Dead

It seems that these days we’re all joking about (or preparing for!) the zombie apocalypse. What better place to get some first-hand zombie knowledge than in Atlanta, where they film the hit series The Walking Dead and where the movie Zombieland was made? During an Atlanta Zombie Film Locations Tour you’ll not only visit filming locations for both zombie shows, you’ll also get instruction from your guide — a veteran onscreen “zombie walker” — in how to walk like a zombie. You never know when that sort of information will come in very handy, indeed.

Chicago Movie Tour

Chicago’s famous Marina City and Towers

Chicago’s famous Marina City and Towers

Chicago’s unique architecture has featured in many popular movies, whether the stories were meant to take place in Chicago or not. During a two hour Chicago Movie Tour you’ll visit more than 75 filming locations — which also happen to be some of the city’s main attractions. You’ll see filming locations for movies like The Dark Knight, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Blues Brothers, The Untouchables, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Transformers 3, covering more than 30 miles through Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.

Read more about the Chicago Movie Tour

Los Angeles Film & TV Sites


L.A. is the capital of movie-making in the U.S., and there are several great Los Angeles movie tours available, on which you can see sites from some of Hollywood’s classics and more modern hits. To check out the darker side of L.A., book the Tragic History of Los Angeles tour and see where some of the most famous names in Hollywood met their demise. Or be awed by the lifestyles of the rich and famous on a tour of famous stars’ homes in Hollywood.

Doctor Who

Whether you grew up watching Doctor Who or you’re a recent convert, there’s no denying the appeal of a London tour of Doctor Who filming locations from its introduction in 1963 right up through the newest BBC incarnation of the series. You’ll ride around the city in one of London’s famous black cabs and see where the “Dalek Invasion of Earth” and scenes with the Time Lord (among many others) were filmed, and you’ll see major London landmarks along the way. You’ll even see a remarkably TARDIS-looking police box.

Boston TV & Movie Sites

Enjoy a beer at Cheers

Enjoy a beer at Cheers

The city of Boston has served as the location for so many stories over the years that during a two hour tour of Boston TV and movie sites you’ll visit more than 30 distinct filming locations. Among the places you’ll visit is the brownstone house featured in Parent Trap, the famous park bench in Good Will Hunting, a mob hangout for Jack Nicholson in The Departed, and the park featured prominently in Ally McBeal. And of course no tour of film sites in Boston would be complete without a stop at the original Cheers bar, where you’ll get a chance to have a drink. It’s up to you whether you want to count the number of people who yell “Norm!” as they walk in.

- Jessica Spiegel for Viator

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P3 Update Names Massachusetts a Top 10 Location Worldwide

p3 update fall 2013

For full article, click on the image above.

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Movie business is thriving in Massachusetts

By: Priyanka Dayal McCluskey
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
October 13, 2013


Michael J. Meyers, developer of New England Studios, talks during a tour of the television and film production facility in Devens.

DEVENS — The future of Massachusetts’ television and film industry may lie in four very large rooms off a quiet wooded road in the former Army base at Devens.

The space is empty now, but it could one day host the next hit TV series or superhero action flick.

These rooms, which make up a $36 million complex called New England Studios, are the first large-scale soundstages built in Massachusetts, and the only ones for hundreds of miles around. Another production facility is slated to open in Worcester by the end of the year. These represent what promoters of the state’s film production industry say have been missing.

Since the state started subsidizing the industry in 2006, producers have flocked to Massachusetts to shoot on location. But except for a few less-than-ideal warehouses, they have not had a place to build sets and film scenes indoors.

Lisa W. Strout, director of the Massachusetts Film Office, called the construction of New England Studios a milestone for the state’s production industry.

“It’s a game-changer for Massachusetts,” she said. “Rather than getting half of a movie, we can accommodate productions that have large set builds. It means a lot more chance to work year-round.

“It’s a signal of no longer being in our nascent stage,” she added. “We’ve moved into the next phase of development of film and media here.”

Massachusetts doled out $36.5 million in tax credits to the production industry last year, from big feature films to TV commercials. By far the biggest chunk — $26.6 million — went to “R.I.P.D.”, a big-budget film that later flopped at the box office. Another $1.8 million went to “Gilded Lilys,” a pilot shot in Worcester that never made it to television.

Companies that produce at least half their projects in Massachusetts receive credits equal to 25 percent of their costs. This, combined with a sales tax exemption and payroll credit for big projects, makes Massachusetts one of the production-friendliest states in the country.

Worcester has had its time in the spotlight, most recently during the filming of the star-studded “American Hustle,” a movie directed by David O. Russell. The HBO miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” will shoot for one day in the city later this month.

Tax incentives mean millions in lost tax revenue for the state, but by drawing productions here, the incentives also spur new spending. A study from the Motion Picture Association of America found that the $37.9 million in tax credits issued in 2011 helped support 2,200 jobs and $375 million in spending. The study also showed that film activity plummeted in 2010 after lawmakers considered capping the tax credit.

Most states offer some kind of film tax credit, but incentives alone are not enough to grow the film industry. Producers also want a variety of places to shoot, a capable workforce and studios where they can build sets. It’s what industry promoters call the “whole package.”

The Devens complex, which opened last month, includes four soundstages, consisting of 18,000 square feet each. It’s nearly 50 feet from the floor to the wooden grid above, where crews will work on lighting and sets. The four studios, divided by enormous sliding doors, can be used separately or together. The walls are soundproofed with concrete and special insulation. The floors allow sets to be nailed into the ground and removed. There is also ample space for hair, makeup and costumes.

Only a few other states offer this type of production facility. They include the movie meccas of California and New York, as well as New Mexico, Georgia and North Carolina. Some Canadian cities are also favorites for the film industry.

Just half an hour away from Devens, on Pullman Street in Worcester, an effort is underway to transform three buildings, once used for building railcars, into a production facility. The biggest building, at 125,000 square feet, is slated to open in December, and two film producers are already interested in renting the space, said Barbara Guertin, actress, founder and managing director of Pullman Project LLC.

“Our dream and vision is to upgrade and make this the most accommodating film studio on the East Coast,” Ms. Guertin said.

She doesn’t see the Devens complex as direct competition.

“They’re gearing toward the $20 million film and above,” she said. “We are not gearing it to any particular group. We are open for video game makers to independent filmmakers to music videos. Across the board, we are going to be much more versatile — and we’re also going to be a great deal less expensive.”

Anton Nel, the developer of the Worcester project, has also expressed interest in building a production studio in Westboro.

Massachusetts has the potential to become the Northeast hub for film and television production, according to Nicholas Paleologos, who led the Massachusetts Film Office until 2010 and now runs the New Jersey state arts council.

“There is an ample amount of spending to go around,” he said. “New York and Los Angeles are never going to soak it all up. The question is, ‘Is there another $300 or $400 million a year in spending that a state like Massachusetts could capture, if we only tried hard enough?’”

Movies may be glamorous, but TV shows pay the bills. Chris Byers, director of operations and marketing for New England Studios, is working on both fronts.

“We’re definitely looking at television,” he said. “We’re looking at features. I think television is a great fit because of the duration it shoots for. Hopefully, you get a series in here that shoots for five, six, seven, eight, nine years. Our goal is to keep the studio busy, which keeps local employment busy.”

Mr. Byers, a Lowell native, spent 29 years in film production in California and other places, and now he’s relying on the relationships he’s built over the years to help him draw business to the Devens studios.

“The beginning of next year, I think we’ll see the big features start to come here,” he said.

New England Studios was funded by private equity investors. The project was offered a property tax break by the state agency MassDevelopment, which oversees Devens. Developer Michael J. Meyers decided not to accept the tax increment financing deal, but he has made it clear that this project would not have been viable if not for the state subsidies for the production industry.

Previously a hotel developer, Mr. Meyers has a lot of confidence in the project because he visited a dozen other studios to learn about the industry and knows what he’s up against.

“Ours is really cutting edge,” he said.

Construction of New England Studios involved 640 workers. A handful of employees are keeping the facility open these days, but each production that comes to the studio could hire dozens or even hundreds of workers, from makeup artists to grips to sound technicians.

Mr. Meyers owns or has options on almost 50 acres of land in Devens. There is plenty of room to expand the studios — if there is enough demand.

Contact Priyanka Dayal McCluskey at Follow her on Twitter @Priyanka_Dayal.

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Film studio donates $5K toward library fix

By Diane Broncaccio
The Recorder
October 11, 2013

SHELBURNE FALLS — The “Raise the Roof” campaign to renovate the Arms Library’s Pratt Memorial Library Building has gotten a little closer to its goal this week, with a $5,000 donation from the Warner Bros. film studio. This week, Shelburne selectmen received a check from Warner Bros., earmarked for the library renovation, as a thank-you to the town for its support and cooperation during filming of “The Judge” this summer.

Along with the check was a letter from Executive Producer Herb Gains thanking town officials and residents, on behalf of the cast and crew of “The Judge.”

As of mid-September, library fundraisers had raised at least $191,000 toward the roof replacement and building renovation, which is expected to cost around $600,000.

Library officials hope to award construction bids for the roof and the foundation drainage system in April, with Phase I of the renovation to be completed by January 2015.

The second construction phase will depend upon how much money has been raised. It will include repointing the masonry, updating the library’s electrical system, insulating and repairing windows, installing an air-conditioning system, painting the interior and protecting the 100-year-old library’s murals.

Scenes from “The Judge” were filmed in the Shelburne Falls area in June. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga and Leighton Meester. The film is about a lawyer (Downey) who returns to his small New England hometown for his mother’s funeral and learns that his father is a murder suspect.

The movie is scheduled for release next October.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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