News & Events

5 Film Sites for You to Explore

February 8, 2015

Posted by the Mass Office of Travel and Tourism

Posted by the Mass Office of Travel and Tourism

Between Black Mass, The Judge and American Hustle, the last few years have been a banner time for filmmaking in Massachusetts.

For those looking to see somewhere different during the next couple of weeks before the Academy Awards arrive or for those thinking ahead to warmer days in the summer, here are five spots where prominent made-in-Massachusetts films were shot and a look at what they have to offer. and American Hustle, the last few years have been a banner time for filmmaking in Massachusetts.

For those looking to see somewhere different during the next couple of weeks before the Academy Awards arrive or for those thinking ahead to warmer days in the summer, here are five spots where prominent made-in-Massachusetts films were shot and a look at what they have to offer.

The Judge

Even while starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall, who picked up an Academy Award nomination for his efforts, The Judge turned heads as much for its scenery as it did for its cast. The movie was filmed primarily in western Massachusetts, with Greater Shelburne Falls taking center stage.

Those familiar with both the film and the area might notice that Salmon Falls Gallery serves as the exterior for the Flying Deer Diner in The Judge, which also happened to feature a number of local in minor roles. For your time in Shelburne Falls, there’s excellent artisan shopping and restaurants, as well as outdoor spots. For overnights, Kenburn Orchards B&B is convenient and comfy.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips recounts the story of (you guessed it) Captain Richard Philips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, featuring Tom Hanks in the title role. The film was partially made in Lincoln and Sudbury, two towns about 20 miles west of Boston.

While keeping a low profile, Captain Phillips used Matlock Farm in Lincoln for several scenes. It isn’t the first time that Lincoln has appeared on the silver screen, either, as Mel Gibson and Adam Sandler films have also shown the town. While you’re in the area, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is great to visit and Drumlin Farm is especially good for kids. To put your feet up nearby, Thoreau’s Walden B&B is nicely situated.

American Hustle

One of the best-reviewed and best-known films to come out of Massachusetts during recent years, American Hustle filmed all across the Commonwealth. Boston, Brockton, Salem, Winchester and Woburn were just a handful of the locations featured, with Worcester playing a particularly central role as New York City.

The Worcester Art Museum, one the city’s top attractions, was one of many American Hustle film sites in Massachusetts, as were Nick’s Bar & Restaurant and the Wang Theater in Boston. In Worcester, the aforementioned art museum is an excellent place to start exploring; the EcoTarium and Canal District are plenty of fun, too. To stay in the area, The Beechwood Hotel is a top choice.

The Fighter

Like American Hustle, The Fighter is a David O. Russell film, one that tells the story of Lowell born-and-bred boxer Mickey Ward. The movie, which starred another famous Bay State native in Mark Wahlberg, was primarily filmed in Ward’s hometown, also included scenes from the town of Lexington.

Cupples Square, East Merrimack Street and Top Donut are three of the Lowell locations shown in The Fighter, which spread filming around the city. When you’re in Lowell, if training to fight isn’t your thing, there’s the American Textile History Museum, Whistler House Museum of Art and plenty else to do. For those coming into town, the Courtyard by Marriott hotel is a quick drive from the city’s main attractions.

Black Mass

Black Mass, set be released in September of 2015, casts Johnny Depp in the role of Whitey Bulger, one of the 20th century’s most notorious and elusive gangsters. The filming was spread around Greater Boston, drawing on Boston, Braintree, Cambridge, Quincy, Randolph and Revere, to name just a few sites, for its setting.

Revere Beach by Bill Ilott via Flickr

Revere Beach by Bill Ilott via Flickr

Revere Beach, which also happens to be American’s oldest public beach and was established in 1896, got plenty of attention when Johnny Depp and Sienna Miller were filming on the sand during July of 2014. Here’s a roundup of the other sites, which are concentrated around Boston. During a visit, there’s plenty to do in the city, along with plenty of places to stay.

Of course, these five aren’t the only well-publicized movies to come out of Massachusetts. Shutter Island, The Social Network and, maybe most famously, Good Will Hunting were all filmed around the Commonwealth, as were plenty of other works.

For the full rundown, visit the Massachusetts Film Office website. You can also find more ideas on how to experience the movie scene in Massachusetts here.

Do you have a favorite film that was made in Massachusetts? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo at the top: Shelburne Falls during fall

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Sundance 2015 Is Hot On New England Witches, Woods, And Comics

By Erin Trahan
January 28, 2015


Every year just a few New England filmmakers secure a coveted debut at the Sundance Film Festival, which opened Jan. 21 and runs through Feb. 1 in Park City, Utah.

One of the most anticipated entries comes from Lee, N.H. native Robert Eggers. Speaking by phone before the festival he described “The Witch” as an “archetypal New England horror story,” a kind of “inherited nightmare.” It’s set in the 1630s, deep in a Hemlock forest chosen for historic accuracy, in a tense foreshadowing of the Salem witch trials.

In “The Witch,” a Puritan family’s fears take hold when crops falter and their newborn son disappears.

Director Robert Eggers shot “The Witch” in Kiosk, Ontario. (Jarin Blaschke)

Director Robert Eggers shot “The Witch” in Kiosk, Ontario. (Jarin Blaschke)

Early reviews from press screenings (the film premiered on Tuesday, Jan. 27) were largely positive and Eggers struck one of the festival’s first sales deals with A24.

Now living in Brooklyn, Eggers said that growing up in New England, the past has always been part of his consciousness. As a kid he paid attention to dilapidated colonials and “graveyards hidden in the middle of the woods.” He and his friends conjured their own folklore, trying to guess “what house the witch lived in.” That’s what he was trying to capture with this film, he said.

“The Witch” is Eggers’s first feature-length film. He has made shorts, including one that resembles “The Witch,” but it didn’t play festivals. He developed this script with support from the Sundance Institute and has been critically praised for the film’s near-obsessive attention to period detail.

Though he ultimately chose to shoot the film in Ontario, Eggers consulted Plimoth Plantation for his meticulous recreations of the period’s architecture, clothing, and lighting. For example he and director of photography, Jarin Blaschke, ducked in and out of Plimoth cottages with a light meter to inform “The Witch’s” dim 17th century palette.

Independent Film Festival Boston’s executive director, Brian Tamm, caught a press and industry screening and said that “The Witch” is “beautifully shot and perfectly creepy.” Tamm and program director Nancy Campbell prefer to play it close to the vest on what films they see, like, and invite to screen, though Tamm said he was also excited to see “Call Me Lucky” (about Boston comedian Barry Crimmins, which the ARTery wrote about here) and “Results,” Boston native Andrew Bujalski’s latest feature starring Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders. Bujalski returns to Sundance just two years after picking up the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize for “Computer Chess.”

Another New England forest features prominently in a Sundance debut about real-life logger, Bob Tarasuk. Though fictional, “Bob and the Trees” walks that fine line. It was shot documentary-style in the Berkshires, on two tiny Blackmagic cameras, using almost all non-professional actors.

Director Diego Ongaro, accomplished in short format filmmaking, had already crafted a 28-minute film based on Tarasuk in 2010. Audiences, including one at IFFBoston, asked for more so Ongaro decided that Bob and the “cinematically underexposed” topic of logging merited additional screen time.

Berkshires logger Bob Tarasuk plays a version of himself in “Bob and The Trees.” ICourtesy, Sundance Institute)

Berkshires logger Bob Tarasuk plays a version of himself in “Bob and The Trees.” ICourtesy, Sundance Institute)

There’s so much you need to do with your own hands,” said Ongaro of Sandisfeld, MA, where he has lived for the last seven years. “Cut wood, shovel your own driveway…” With “Bob” as his first feature, Ongaro wanted to get at the intensity of winter in particular, which is completely different from the weather of Ongaro’s native Paris and of the shirtsleeves weather depicted in the short.

Indeed this “Bob” plunges the logger into darker emotional territory than the short and also into two feet of Polar Vortex snow. Bob’s generally jovial (though foul-mouthed) outlook is tested by a bad bet on a sketchy plot of land and a suffering cow. The result is a close study of a dying industry and what some would call a vanishing way of life.

When he got the Sundance acceptance call, Ongaro said he was “so caught by surprise and happy.” He and several cast and crew members will be in Park City for this week’s premiere. “At some point you become completely blind to what you’ve created,” he said of the last year. Of course he hopes to sell the film but admits he’s not sure what to expect. “We’ll see how the people react,” he said.

Erin Trahan writes regularly about movies for The ARTery and edits The Independent.

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Audio: Massachusetts Links Some Oscar Nominees

This Sunday, Olive Kitteridge, a four-part mini-series, will debut on HBO.

It tells the story of a middle-aged school teacher in a coastal community in Maine.

It’s a world of small-town gossip — and domestic pain and tragedy that folks have a hard time facing or talking about.

The TV series stars Frances McDormand in the title role, along with Richard Jenkins.

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The Top Locations Worldwide

Top Loc Coverpage

US Locations

First, the big news: California is back. Skeptics were taken aback by the recent signing of legislation AB 1839 by California Governor Jerry Brown, which assured that the California Film and Television Incentive will receive an additional $230 million to its existing $100 million. The new program will also receive $330 million in funding each following financial year, which is easing the worries of the studios currently sending one-hour dramas and TV movies out of state. Eligibility of the credit has also been expanded by removing budget caps for studio and independent feature films, while TV series are eligible regardless of distribution medium. This last point opens the door for online series, such as those offered by Netflix, to take advantage of the credit. And that’s not all: the program offers an additional 5-percent break for visual-effects and music scoring work incurred in the state. Meanwhile, California still retains an impressive lineup of top productions, including the TV series “Extant,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family,” and feature films like Need for Speed and Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Interstellar.

From the big cities of Miami and Orlando to small beach towns and suburbs, Florida offers quite a range of spectacular locations to meet the needs of upcoming film and TV projects. The state also offers an impressive list of film commissions that all work together to ensure that each production runs smoothly, such as Dolphin Tale 2. Florida’s 20-to-30-percent transferable tax-credit program was so successful that the $296 million allocation is already gone. An economic study released by the MPAA indicates a 4.7 ROI for the program, with the expectation of more money being added to the Florida program in

Without a doubt, one of the standout states of 2014 has been the Peach State. Georgia’s booming film economy is growing at a rapid speed, hosting a steady stream of film productions like Dumb and Dumber To, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, The Good Lie and No Good Deed and TV shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club.” And it was recently announced that Chris Evans will head south to shoot the Marvel sequel Captain America 3 in the state. Georgia currently offers producers a 20-percent (and added 10-percent logo uplift) transferable tax credit as well as a strong crew base. And Pinewood Studios is building state-of-the-art soundstages to take advantage of the influx of productions.

Hawaii is the leading tropical filming destination in the U.S. Featuring a diverse natural environment, the state is made up of eight main islands with each offering uniquely mind-blowing characteristics. Hawaii is also home to a slew of reefs, shoals, mountains, volcanos, rainforests, small towns, beach communities and cities, some of which served as hosts for the popular TV series “Hawaii Five-0” and the blockbuster film Godzilla. “Hawaii has long been a favorite location for Hollywood due to its distinctly ‘not in America’ looks while still being part of the U.S., with all of the benefits and security that offers,” says Location Manager Kent Matsuoka. “[Benefits include] the U.S. dollar, English language, no passport/customs requirements, and first world infrastructure. [And] the best reason for shooting in Hawaii is that it’s close enough to fly an actor out for a couple of days, with many flights and carriers making the run every day out of LAX and most major west coast cities.”

Hawaii currently has a 20- or 25-percent refundable tax credit as well as a 5-percent increase in an effort to compete with other state offerings. There are also plenty of first-class accommodations easily accessible to Hawaii’s popular locations. “Just the excuse of going to Hawaii can be reason [enough] to convince someone to come out,” adds Matsuoka. “[Just look at] the endless stream of guest talent that has appeared on the new iteration of ‘Hawaii Five-0.’”

When you’ve got the city of Chicago at bat on your team, it can be pretty easy to entice producers to suit up and join the game. The city and the entire state of Illinois boast some of the most breathtaking .”divergent modern and historical locations. Recent productions shot in Illinois include the films Divergent, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Jupiter Ascending and the hit TV shows “Shameless” and “Chicago Fire The state’s 30-percent transferable tax credit has once again been renewed, pushing the sunset date all the way to May 2021. There’s an additional bonus of up to 15 percent on labor expenditures for the employment of residents from geographic areas of high poverty or unemployment, so the credit can actually reach a whopping total of 45 percent. Illinois is also the only state with a production incentive program that includes a diversity provision.

Louisiana has been a production giant for much of 2014 with a stream of star-powered blockbusters lining up to take advantage of the state’s incentives. Louisiana’s up-to-35-percent transferable tax credit consistently attracts TV shows like “American Horror Story:Freak Show” and slew of studio features, such as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 22 Jump Street, The Fantastic Four, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and the recently released Left Behind, starring Nicolas Cage and Lea Thompson. It was also just announced that Sylvester Stallone will shoot some intense action sequences in Louisiana for the fifth installment of his Rambo film franchise. For a complete list of film commissions visit:

Massachusetts currently still offers its reliable 25-percent transferable tax credit, which has attracted the film productions for the sequel Ted 2 (directed by Seth MacFarlane and starring Mark Wahlberg),R.I.P.D. (starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges) the judge p3and the Oscar contender The Judge (starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall). The state is not only known for featuring a wide array of period locations that range as far back as the 1600s. With its vast architectural options and a supportive incentive, it’s no surprise why Massachusetts continues to make the cut year after year.

New Mexico remains a film hotspot, thanks to its 25- or 30-percent film production tax credit (the 5-percent bump is for TV series and resident labor) and a standalone 25-percent postproduction tax credit, both of which are refundable. Big budget features, like Transcendence and The Lone Ranger, and TV projects alike have utilized New Mexico’s cinematic locales as a backdrop. AMC’s “Breaking Bad” just ended its six-year run of filming five seasons in the state just in time to start shooting its spinoff show “Better Call Saul” in New Mexico. In a recent conversation, Albuquerque’s Director of Communications in the Office of the Mayor Dayna Gardner spoke about the financial impact high-profile productions have had on the city. “The industry provides jobs for our citizens that are high paying and creative,” she states. “Local companies also benefit from having a production here, like lumber companies, hotels and restaurants, travel agencies [and] sign companies.… In fact, almost all local businesses profit in some way. When ‘Breaking Bad’ was filming, the direct spend-per-episode shot over eight days was approximately a million dollars to the city.”

NEW YORKbanner pic p3
The Big Apple takes enticing productions to a whole new level, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has just extended the state’s incentive program to 2019 along with an additional $2.1 billion in film funding. New York currently offers a 30-percent fully refundable tax credit on qualified production and postproduction expenses incurred in the state, as well as a 30- to 35-percent postproduction credit on qualified post expenses incurred in-state (for projects not eligible for the film production tax credit program). There’s also a commercial production credit of 5 percent, a 20-percent annual growth credit (with applications submitted annually), and sales-tax exemptions.

Cuomo’s dedication to keep productions happy has led to further enhancements, most notably a 10-percent BTL cost uplift to film outside the metro area in specified Upstate New York counties (beyond Albany)—and this can extend the 30-percent New York metro credit up to 40 percent on film-production costs. TV variety and talk shows can also qualify, much like NBC’s “The Tonight Show” and “America’s Got Talent.” Other New York productions include Steven Soderbergh’s new Cinemax series “The Knick,” Jenji Kohan’s “Orange Is the New Black” and the feature films A Walk Among the Tombstones (starring Liam Neeson), St. Vincent (starring Bill Murray, Naomi Watts and Melissa McCarthy), the star-studded comedy This Is Where I Leave You and Birdman staring Michael Keaton. And to serve upstate productions, Empire Visual Effects will create 150 new visual effects and other postproduction jobs in Buffalo within five years.

As the home of sprawling cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, it’s no surprise why the Lone Star State rounds out our top ten for the U.S. The sheer size of the state is enough to lure productions, with its diverse array of landscapes and geological features. Texas also boasts an up-to-22.5- percent grant program for film and television projects that has kept new Film Commissioner Heather Page busy with nonstop applications. Recent projects utilizing everything Texas has to offer include the newly released Men, Women & Children (starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Garner), Paramount’s summer blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction and the NBC sci-fi series “Revolution.”

international locations

Abu Dhabi really is like no place on Earth. The city is vibrant and alive, with its Arab heritage inspiring the sprawling architecture, and the fantastically hot desert climate produces the sunniest of blue skies throughout the year. Abu Dhabi also offers a highly attractive 30-percent cash rebate, the likes of which is enough to entice much anticipated franchise productions like Disney’s Star Wars: Episode VII and Universal’s Fast and Furious 7. Since 2012, Abu Dhabi’s incentive program has functioned without a funding cap and continues to offer additional bonuses, such as free international travel (when booking with Etihad Airways), free scouting assistance and no sales tax.

A filmmaker’s dream locale, Australia is a country that exudes scenic beauty in every direction, and there are a host of film commissions ready help productions with any and all requests. Recent Aussie productions include Warner Bros. The Great Gatsby and Fox’s The Wolverine, and it was recently announced that Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will send its stars and pirates to film in Queensland. “Disney is pleased to be working with both the Australian government and Queensland government as we prepare to set sail on our next Pirates adventure,” says Philip Steuer, senior VP of physical production at Walt Disney Studios. “Queensland has an incredibly diverse landscape and Australia’s robust entertainment industry, and many accomplished craftsmen will provide a fantastic home base for our production.” Australia’s Screen Production incentive program currently offers tax-based incentives and provides a cash rebate to producers on Qualifying Australian Production Expenditures (QAPE). The three in incentives are the Location Offset at 16.5 percent; the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Offset (PDV) at 30 percent; and a Producer Offset of 40 percent for qualifying feature films and 20 percent for qualifying TV productions and documentaries (which include official co-production treaties).

Canada continues to thrive. With an army of film offices working overtime in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec and Yukon, just to name a few, Canada is more than ready to exceed expectations. XmenThe country is known for its stunning locations, highly skilled crews, production service companies and incentives that will put a smile on producers’ faces. Recent films shot in Canada include Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (which utilized Alberta) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (Québec). And the upcoming drama The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, will shoot in British Columbia and Alberta in 2015. Canada’s generous film incentives vary depending on each region. For a complete list of incentives and commissions, visit

Germany boasts an extraordinary history in cinema that serves as a foundation for its capabilities as a modern production hub. Fox Searchlight’s Grand Budapest Hotel and Sony/Columbia’s The Monuments Men recently chose Germany as a filming destination, as the country offers professionally trained English-speaking germanycrews and studios that meet the highest standards in film technology. Germany is also cherished for its timber-frame old towns and contemporary architecture. Meanwhile, the country stays busy by offering film and TV productions a 20-percent cash grant.

Scenic clouds, sunsets and falling snow all make Iceland the place where filmmakers can attain shots never thought possible. This daring land mass south of the Arctic Circle is packed with lava fields, mountains, glaciers, rivers, oceans, fjords and towns of all shapes and sizes. Offering a wealth of cinematic possibilities, Iceland can double as a faraway fantasyland as well as a distant planet. ireland Recent productions shot in Iceland include the studio films Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Noah and Oblivion and the hit TV series “Game of Thrones.” Iceland’s financial incentive offers a healthy 20 percent of qualifying local spends, and the country takes pride in having reimbursements be an easy and straightforward procedure.

Over the past few years, Ireland has developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the top places to shoot. It now stands out on the global production map, courtesy of its high-profile filming locations that have well served projects like the HBO adventure/fantasy series “Game of Thrones.” With its breathtaking scenery, experienced crews and outstanding studios, Ireland is more than equipped to tackle any film of TV project. The country’s current incentive program has been extended to 2020, with the benefit increasing from 28 percent to 32 percent in 2015. In addition, up-front production funding is paid in cash on the first day of shooting or on financial closing. The program is capped at 80-percent global spend of up to 50 million euros, and the amount spent on the Ireland production must at least equal the amount of investment eligible for tax relief.

Malaysia features coastal plains, forested hills and mountains as well as ideally warm tropical weather year-round, making it one of the most utilized film locales in Asia. It also offers producers state-of-the-art studios, the latest production equipment, green-screen facilities, broadcast studios, VFX and digital postproduction facilities, and there are more than 70 production-centered companies ready to assist filmmakers. Incentives-wise, Malaysia offers a 30-percent cash rebate and low production costs. Additional perks include the recent opening of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios (PIMS), whose name alone guarantees top-quality production values. The Weinstein Company is already booked to shoot its new Netflix series “Marco Polo” at PIMS.

Mainland New Zealand features North and South Islands to create one of the greatest filmic backdrops in cinematic history. With jaw-dropping landscapes and an experienced crew base, it’s clear why this Southwestern Pacific gem makes our list every year. In April 2014, the Screen Production Incentive Fund and Large-Budget Screen Production Grant was replaced by the New Zealand Screen Production Grant (NZSPG), which offers cash grants to key film, TV and animation projects that achieve a certain level of qualifying NZ expenditures (QNZPE). nzProductions with significant New Zealand content are eligible for a cash grant of 40 percent, while international productions are eligible for 20 percent (with a 5-percent uplift for productions that can demonstrate significant economic benefits to New Zealand). And the revamped Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Grant offers eligible productions a 20-percent cash grant of QNZPE with a 5-percent uplift for economic NZ benefits).

The presence of Peter Jackson’s acclaimed visual-effects house Weta Digital in Wellington remains a big draw for local and visiting producers, as the facility offers a full suite of digital production services for feature films and commercials. south africaNot only did Weta Digital play a large postproduction role in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film franchises, but it also provided work for Hollywood blockbusters like X-Men: The Last Stand and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

South Africa has received notable attention in 2014 for its stunning landscapes, professional studios and a 20-to 25-percent cash rebate. Its coastline stretches over 1,500 miles while offering a wide range of cinematic locations, including lush green hills, crystal blue waters and the sprawling city of Cape Town. Cape Town Film Studios is backed by national, provisional and local governments as it lures big budget Hollywood productions like the Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, the Adam Sandler comedy Blended, The Giver (starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep) and the Reese Witherspoon drama The Good Lie.

Across the pond, the United Kingdom has built a film empire that continually attracts films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Fast & Furious 6, Star Wars: Episode VII and the upcoming Brad Pitt war flick Fury, as well as the new Starz TV series “Outlander.” The UK touts an extensive crew base of highly skilled technicians and an impressive lineup of film studios, including Pinewood, Shepperton and Warner Bros./Leavesden just to name a few. The UK also offers a 20- or 25-percent refundable tax credit that has been so successful with features that it now also serves high-end television and animation projects.

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Greenfield sneak preview of ‘The Judge’ draws cheers

By Ray Kelly
The Republican
October 9, 2014

Four hundred movie-goers turned out for a preview of "The Judge" at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on Wednesday night. (Ray Kelly |The Republican)

Four hundred movie-goers turned out for a preview of “The Judge” at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on Wednesday night. (Ray Kelly |The Republican)

GREENFIELD – The first cheers at a Wednesday night sneak preview of “The Judge” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall were not for the film’s stars, but for a spectacular aerial view of nearby Shelburne Falls.

Although “The Judge,” which arrives in theaters nationwide on Friday, takes place in the fictitious Carlinville, Indiana, much of it was filmed along Bridge Street in Shelburne Falls, as well as locales in Dedham, Millers Falls and Worcester.

“I loved it, though it was a sad film,” said Marie Schlosstein of Holyoke, who was one of the scores of extras who worked on the movie.

Schlosstein, who was also an extra on the 2010 Mel Gibson thriller “Edge of Darkness,” applied to be an extra after reading about a casting call in The Republican in May 2013.

She was unsure in the excitement at the screening whether or not she caught a glimpse of her Jeep in a traffic scene.

Other extras, business owners and local officials were among the 400 invited guests at the screening, which was arranged through the Massachusetts Film Office, Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association and Warner Brothers.

“It was a great movie,” said retired Shelburne Falls Town Clerk Beverly Neeley.

Marie Schlosstein of Holyoke stands next to a Carlinville banner, a prop used in "The Judge." The film had a sneak preview in Greenfield on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 (Ray Kelly |The Republican)

Marie Schlosstein of Holyoke stands next to a Carlinville banner, a prop used in “The Judge.” The film had a sneak preview in Greenfield on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014 (Ray Kelly |The Republican)

Carol Schempp of Shelburne Falls added, “I thought it was wonderful. They (Downey and Duvall) both deserve awards.”

Massachusetts Film Office Executive Director Lisa W. Strout attended the Wednesday night preview.

She said the success of “Labor Day” and “The Judge,” both filmed in Franklin County, will draw more filmmakers to the area.

In “The Judge,” slick Chicago lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey) returns to his childhood hometown of Carlinville, where his estranged father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder.

“The Judge” director David Dobkin and cast members have told The Republican in recent interviews that they were impressed by the beauty and charm of Shelburne Falls.

“When we hit Shelburne Falls, it felt emotional to me,” Dobkin said. “It was a place I would fight to defend.”

Co-star Jeremy Strong told The Republican at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the film had its world premiere on Sept. 4, that “Shelburne Falls was a beautiful pastoral quintessential American town.

“It was a perfect place.”

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‘The Judge’ hits home with audience

By Diane Broncaccio
The Recorder
October 9, 2014

(Warner Bros. photo/Claire Folger) Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall appear in the first promotional still for the film "The Judge," which filmed in the area last summer. Behind them can be seen the rainroad trestle near Cheapside at the Greenfield, Deerfield border.

(Warner Bros. photo/Claire Folger)
Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall appear in the first promotional still for the film “The Judge,” which filmed in the area last summer. Behind them can be seen the rainroad trestle near Cheapside at the Greenfield, Deerfield border.

GREENFIELD — Franklin County went to the movies Wednesday night to see what so many people had only seen in bits and pieces last summer — “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, and, of course, Shelburne Falls.

When a preview showing of “Labor Day” was held in Memorial Hall last year, the audience shouted and cheered as glimpses of the Iron Bridge, Keystone Market, Greenfield Savings Bank or even the Power Canal in Turners Falls were shown. But overall, the crowd was slightly disappointed not to see more of their town — or the dozens of residents who were extras in that film.

But “The Judge,” in contrast, practically lingered over the settings: a tornado tears down Bridge Street, Downey’s character, Hank Palmer, sits outside Baker’s Pharmacy eating ice cream with his young daughter.

“It was awesome,” said Tim Bohonowicz, a Greenfield Garden Cinema employee, who had previewed the movie earlier, in preparing for the invitation-only preview Wednesday night. “It’s a lovely movie.”

“I thought it was great,” former Shelburne Town Clerk Beverly Neeley said. “I was so pleasantly surprised.”

When asked if she liked it better than “Labor Day,” she said, “It was much better.”

A queue formed about 45 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. showing. The invited guests included movie extras and local production assistants, state Reps. Paul Mark and Steve Kulik, merchants and town officials from seven towns where scenes were filmed: Shelburne, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Deerfield, Hadley and Montague. Two cinemas showed the movie to a total of 400 people.

Before the film, Brad Brigham of Colrain said he’s enjoyed seeing his homestead and barn on television — in the movie trailer, in which Downey rides his bicycle down a picturesque country road. “I’m getting calls from friends around the country who recognize that barn,” he said. “It’s put Colrain on the map.”

The movie showing, one day before its scheduled release, was hosted by Warner Bros. as a “thank you” to the communities where filming was done.

Massachusetts Film Office Director Lisa Strout introduced the film, saying that 414 Massachusetts residents worked on the film, while another 821 residents did background work.

“It’s for being known as such a film-friendly place that you landed the second major film in just two years,” she told the audience.

On Wednesday, Downey talked about “The Judge” on his Facebook news feed.

“The Judge is a lovely little film about past regrets, which is something I know a bit about,” he wrote. “What’s your biggest regret?”

(Recorder file photo/Diane Broncaccio) Shelburne Falls was one local location for the filming of “The Judge.”

(Recorder file photo/Diane Broncaccio)
Shelburne Falls was one local location for the filming of “The Judge.”

The film is about a big city lawyer who returns home for his mother’s funeral, and learns that his small-town father, a judge, is a murder suspect. Instead of leaving, Downey’s character stays to learn the truth and reconnects to his estranged family along the way.

In an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe, director David Dobkin told Globe correspondent Ed Symkus that Shelburne Falls was his first choice for the film’s fictitious Indiana town.

“I’d seen pictures of the area, and I was looking for a town that seemed like it was preserved in time, but wasn’t aware of itself being that,” he said. “It was important to me that the judge was defining these older, conservative values that meant something that it was a place that was … like our memory of America.”

The article went on to say that Dobkin was “bummed” after learning that “Labor Day” had been filmed in Shelburne Falls the year before. But after “Labor Day” director Jason Reitman showed him what footage would be used from Shelburne Falls, Dobkin decided to go ahead filming there.

Despite its lackluster national reception, the movie “Labor Day” was a big draw last year for the Greenfield Garden Cinema.

“I think we had ‘Labor Day’ for eight or nine weeks — even though it was pulled, nationally, after four or five weeks,” said Cinema owner George Gohl. “Up until summertime, ‘Labor Day’ was my number-two movie — for a national movie that hardly had any publicity.”

“Labor Day” ended up being the theater’s third biggest box-office draw for the year — topped only by “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Lego Movie.”

“I think ‘The Judge’ will do very well here,” he added.

The Greenfield Garden Cinema will show “The Judge” starting tonight with a 10 p.m. showing.

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