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Interview: Chris Pine and Casey Affleck Talk About ‘The Finest Hours’

By: Ben Zacuto ’19
Emertainment Monthly
February 5, 2016

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 28:  The Walt Disney Studios hosted a special 3D IMAX Screening of the Finest Hours for the US Coast Guard and local family, friends and supporters of the movie which was filmed in Quincy MA. Casey Affleck, Chris Pine and Craig Gillespie attend the scereening of THE FINEST HOURS  on January 28, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Allied Integrated Marketing)

BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 28: The Walt Disney Studios hosted a special 3D IMAX Screening of the Finest Hours for the US Coast Guard and local family, friends and supporters of the movie which was filmed in Quincy MA. Casey Affleck, Chris Pine and Craig Gillespie attend the scereening of THE FINEST HOURS on January 28, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for Allied Integrated Marketing)

Disney’s The Finest Hours follows the story of Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and his rescue team sailing out in the middle of one of the most dangerous storms that has ever hit the East Coast of Cape Cod to rescue Ray Sybert’s (Casey Affleck) crew on a sinking oil tanker. Ripping in half the SS Pendleton (a T-2 Oil Tanker bound for Boston, MA) an offshore nor’easter storm traps 30 sailors on board the sinking vessel, clamoring to keep the stern afloat under the leadership of Sybert. Meanwhile, word of the disaster reaches the U.S. Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts, where Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) orders a daring rescue team of four men, led by Coast Guard Captain Bernie Webber to set out in a wooden lifeboat with an ill-equipped engine and barely any means of navigation, facing frigid temperatures, 60-foot high waves and hurricane-force winds to rescue the stranded sailors. In this conference call interview, both Pine and Affleck had some very interesting insight into the production of the film about one of the greatest rescue missions in US Coast Guard history.

Emertainment Monthly got the chance to partake in a conference call with The Finest Hours‘ stars Chris Pine and Casey Affleck.

What drew you to this project?

Affleck: You know, um, there are a lot of things actually to this. One was that it was filmed in Massachusetts, which I — I just got to come home and work here. See where I am at the moment. That I knew from and the other, I felt like it was a movie that, um, it was, I like what Disney’s doing. I feel like they make a great effort to, you know, make Movies that are, um, have a strong message and a good story, good Characters. This one is particularly exciting but it also supports the characters there and their kind of core values of Disney. And I might sound old fashioned and hokey but; it’s kind of refreshing to see a movie like that.

Boston University: Welcome back first of all. My question actually revolves around this, the location. I know that you’ve done quite a few films in the New England/Boston area. What exactly is it that draws you back to your hometown and how did your familiarity with the area affect the filming process?

Affleck: That’s a good question. I guess I like coming back here just because I’m from here. It’s nice to come home. I’m in California for the time being so I can work, that’s where the industry is. But I’d much rather be here. Boston is also a great place to make movies cause they’ve been making movies here for a long time. They’ve got really good crews. There, uh, which is not always the case. And you know, everyone’s professional and also when the movie comes out and you run into the people who you made it with, from Boston, people in Boston don’t mind telling you if they hated it. So it’s nice to know, you know, where you stand. And you don’t have to guess about whether or not they actually liked it or not. That was a joke.

Chris Pine in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Chris Pine in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Southern Methodist University: Hey, I just wanted to know how the film being set in 1952, how that changed your, approach to the performance.

Affleck: Well that’s a good question. There’s a lot of conversation about whether or not we try to emulate the style, the acting style, the movies from that period because stylistically the movie looks and feels a lot like a movie from back then, albeit also sort of, you know, color and gigantic and sort of awesome in all of the ways that digital cinema is now. But in other ways, in the writing and story telling, thematically, it sort of feels like an old movie. So should people behave that way as well, and we decided, no. So really I just approach it like any other movie as best you can. Um, Chris Pine just joined us. He’s been giving; he’s amazing and honorary. I hope you have a question for Chris because he’d like to talk about the film a little bit.

I was reading in the Production Notes, that you had gotten to shoot at the actual Coast Guard Station in Chatham, where Bernie and the crew returned after the rescue mission. I understood obviously, it was very emotional. I just wonder if you could kind of describe for us what that felt like.

Pine: We shot at the Lighthouse that attached to the Coast Guard station there in Chatham. We got a chance to visit the interior of the station but I don’t think we shot any more interiors there. Um, but we did get to go to the Cafeteria, to the same spot where Bernie and his boys took a photo after, right after the night had ended. So that was kind of, um, uh, you can’t help but be affected by that. They take out the actual CG 36500 in the Bar and they go out to the open waters where it happened, was quite something too.

Casey Affleck in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Casey Affleck in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Ohio State University: Were you able to meet with any of the actual survivors from the Pendleton and how did that affect how you portrayed your role?

Affleck: I didn’t get the opportunity to meet any of the survivors from the Pendleton. No I didn’t get the opportunity, I wish I had. But we got to see it on T2, a boat that’s similar to a T2 and get a sense of what that was like, which is pretty, pretty amazing.

John Carroll University: My question is for Chris. So Chris, you play Bernard Weber who’s the main character of this film. What elements did you bring to your character to honor Weber’s legacy?

Pine: Bernie Weber, what I like about Bernie, at least from the script that I was given and, I didn’t know Bernie, and really had only a sense of who he was from talking to Andy Fitzgerald who was on the boat with him that night and Moe Gutthrew, who’s his best friend and there’s an autobiographical account that Bernie wrote about the night and then obviously, the book, “The Finest Hours”. There’s also a little audio clip of Bernie describing the events of that night. So that was, those were kind of the things that I used to cull an idea of who the man might have been. Um, but from the script that I was given, he was a simple guy that loved his job and loved the waters and — and, knew what he was doing out there but was obviously affected by, a tragedy that happened a year before and didn’t know if he was up for the task of going out that night. But I — I do love the idea of a regular man up against seemingly insurmountable odds and more than anything, I kind of related to Bernie’s fear, you know. Bernie is a man that wears his heart on his sleeve. And he’s not like many of us that, you know, put on all this armor and try to be macho and tough. He’s just, Bernie doesn’t, at least from the script that was given, doesn’t think that way. He’s just kind of wears his heart on his sleeve, wants to do a good job, loves his wife, and uh, yeah.

Chris Pine in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Chris Pine in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

St. Louis University: Bernie’s Character was a really huge rule follower in the film at the beginning. And then at the end, he kind of learned the limits of being a rule follower and kind of broke away from that. Were there any situations in your life where you have broken the rules or taken risks in acting or in life?

Pine: Um, nothing that comes to mind. But, that seems to be that theme of, um, you know, we all like stories of the mavericks and the guys that, go against the grain, and I think what we enjoy about men like that is they usually operate from the sense of an inner moral compass. I think part of Bernie’s evolution, it’s not that following rules are bad, it’s just that Bernie, by following rules so closely, had lost his voice and, by learning to speak up for himself and to trust his instincts, trust his gut, trust his knowledge of those waters, I think, I think that’s really good. The story there and although I can’t think of anything personally that comes to mind, I think all those kind of experiences that on a daily basis, balancing our, understanding ourselves, communicating ourselves and you know, looking at whatever social framework which, um, uh, tries to–

Affleck: What Chris is doing there is he’s telling some of the bigger themes of the picture. It’s about the inner compass of a man. There’s the compass, they lose their compass and they still find their way because there’s an inner moral compass that guides them. The guiding light here, for Disney, for Chris, for all of us. It’s selflessness, heroism in the face of fifty-foot waves.

DePaul University: My question is for the both of you. Both of your characters are faced with not only overcoming a big storm but also there’s personal struggles to overcome themselves. Now how can you relate to your character and their determination in the role like that portraying that when filming?

Pine: Well I guess in our own tiny way, being in the film business is hard enough and there’s a lot of luck involved in it obviously. You face an incredible amount of rejection and also you know, I assume, just by being alive, people felt, not a part of the group or not liked or that they don’t have friends, don’t have as many friends as they want or, feeling out of place. And I certainly saw that in Bernie. And, so I mean it’s a great thing about what we get to do as actors is that even though, I’ll never know what it’s really like to be a Coast Guardsman, or really never know what it’s like to go up against 70 foot waves and uh, zero visibility and what it’s like to rescue men off a split oil tanker, there are certain kind of general human emotions and feelings that you can attach to and bring your own experience to.

Casey Affleck in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Casey Affleck in The Finest Hours. Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Houston Community College: This question is for both Chris and Casey. Did you learn or take away anything from the experience of playing your respective characters? If so, what was it?

Pine: Well you know, what I liked about Bernie is that he’s a simple guy and I don’t mean that derogatorily, I love Bernie because he loves his job and he loves his woman and wants to do well at his job, and loves his woman well, and have a bunch of kids, and live happily ever afterwards. There’s honesty and a truth to him. He’s just a good solid man and uh, who goes about business not seeking any sort of pat on the back. It’s just because he wants to do right and he knows that’s the only way he can function really. And I learned a lot from him. I think about that, about, there is purity in wanting to do your job well and to serve other people because; you don’t need much more than that. And oftentimes in our business, it’s all about, stuff that’s completely opposite from that which is, you know, getting your picture taken and twittering and all that kind of shit that I just think takes away from you know, those good old fashioned values.

Affleck: Yeah, my character had a journey. I really didn’t learn anything from the guy. I didn’t, because, you know, there wasn’t a whole lot of information about him so he’s more or less, just a piece of fiction of the screenwriters who did a really good job creating a character that fit into the story. But um, I didn’t have that same opportunity to kind of study his life. So I just had to sort of make some stuff up.

This interview has been condensed from its original form. The Finest Hours is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Watch The Trailer:

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Lawrence getting $330K for ‘Live By Night’ filming

By Jill Harmacinski
Eagle Tribune
January 31, 2016

Filming of Ben Affleck's upcoming movie "Live By Night" took place in downtown Lawrence in November (Amanda Sabga/Staff File Photo)

Filming of Ben Affleck’s upcoming movie “Live By Night” took place in downtown Lawrence in November (Amanda Sabga/Staff File Photo)

LAWRENCE — Hollywood star Ben Affleck and his production crew have long packed up and left the Immigrant City.

But the final payment for the city, for allowing and cooperating with the filming of “Live By Night” in Lawrence, far exceeded the previous $100,000 estimate.

Officials announced the city and area businesses are being paid $330,000 by the movie production crew — which includes a $30,000 negotiated donation that will help make downtown Lawrence cleaner.

“At the end of the day, this was a net positive from the city … No one expected this could happen in Lawrence. And the best side of Lawrence was shown,” said Mayor Daniel Rivera.

Here’s the final breakdown: The city received $140,000 for personnel costs and repairs incurred due to the filming which ran from Nov. 12 to Nov. 23.

The production company will pay $166,000 to area businesses that reported losses due to filming.

“People couldn’t get to their stores. They didn’t have as many walk ins. They couldn’t make deliveries,” said Rivera, explaining why businesses reported losses during filming.

“They got something because their businesses were displaced at that time,” he added.

Also, the negotiated $30,000 donation to the city will be used to purchase new trash receptacles from the downtown area.

“This was part of the first conversation with the production company we had,” Rivera said during an interview Friday.

Traffic was halted and downtown streets closed at times as the film crew worked on Appleton Way between Lawrence City Hall and Lawrence Superior Court. Appleton Way itself was transformed into a bustling 1920’s shopping area.

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera talks with Ben Affleck on the "Live By Night" movie set in downtown Lawrence last November (File photo)

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera talks with Ben Affleck on the “Live By Night” movie set in downtown Lawrence last November (File photo)

“Live By Night” is a Prohibition-era, crime drama scheduled for release in 2017. Affleck, who lived in Cambridge at one time, wrote the movie’s screenplay, which is based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, who is from Dorchester.

Affleck is the movie’s main character, Joe Coughlin, the son of the Boston police captain who becomes an outlaw in Boston in 1926. Also starring in the movie are actors Chris Messina and actresses Elle Fanning, Zoe Saldana and Sienna Miller.

As the month progressed, more filming was done on the Casey Bridge, Canal and Methuen streets, at the Everett Mill and the Duck Bridge.

District F City Councilor Marc Laplante said during filming “the city was buzzing” and “you could feel the electricity.”

“It seemed like everyone was posting pictures and selfies with him on Facebook,” Laplante said.

But, he noted, the production company came to Lawrence with a “full wallet” making sure local government would not be burdened, local businesses did not lose money and “there was an extra $30,000 donation to the city for good measure.”

Laplante said he’s looking forward to seeing the movie and “the city’s prominent backdrop” on the big screen.

Rivera said there are “rumors” of other film crews coming to Lawrence but no plans have been firmed up yet.

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‘The Finest Hours’ Review: Chris Pine & Casey Affleck Deftly Navigate True Coast Guard Tale

By Pete Hammond
DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD
January 29, 2016

deadline
If Disney’s new action adventure film The Finest Hours reminds you of a certain George Clooney movie from about 15 years ago called The Perfect Storm, you wouldn’t be wrong. There are similarities as both are Massachusettes-set movies following a group of ordinary men in survival mode on the high seas as a huge Nor’easter hits. But apart from the spectacular effects of lots of giant crashing waves on a comparatively tiny boat, The Finest Hours has more on its mind as it tells the true and heroic story of one of the most incredible Coast Guard rescues in history.

Set in 1952, a four-man Coast Guard crew faces the wrath of the unforgiving ocean off Chatham, MA to head out against all odds and try to rescue the crew of a downed oil tanker that has split in half due to the horrendous pounding of the weather. Set in 1952, a four-man Coast Guard crew faces the wrath of the unforgiving ocean off Chatham, MA to head out against all odds and try to rescue the crew of a downed oil tanker that has split in half due to the horrendous pounding of the weather. Chris Pine as Bernie Webber leads the mission with three others on board his 36-foot boat to rescue the remaining crew of many (over 30) stranded men, led by the tanker’s engineer nicely played by Casey Affleck. The film switches back and forth between these two competing scenarios with a personal backstory also set in motion for Webber, who has just become engaged to a telephone switchboard operator (Holliday Grainger). She realizes her beau is being sent out on a suicide mission by the local commander (Eric Bana) and desperately tries to get the boss to abort the mission before it’s too late.

Webber’s boat mates have their own particular human traits including a nice turn from Ben Foster, but ultimately the film focuses on man vs elements in a thrilling bid for survival. Although patriotic by its very nature, the movie does not dwell on flag-waving elements but tells an extraordinary tale of ordinary men doing their job in dire circumstances. Pine is perfectly cast as the real-life Webber, ,who is as likeable as he is dedicated to duty beyond the call. Foster, John Magara and Kyle Gallner all make up a believable, if in-over-their-heads boat crew for Pine to navigate.Chris Pine as Bernie Webber leads the mission with three others on board his 36-foot boat to rescue the remaining crew of many (over 30) stranded men, led by the tanker’s engineer nicely played by Casey Affleck. The film switches back and forth between these two competing scenarios with a personal backstory also set in motion for Webber, who has just become engaged to a telephone switchboard operator (Holliday Grainger). She realizes her beau is being sent out on a suicide mission by the local commander (Eric Bana) and desperately tries to get the boss to abort the mission before it’s too late.

Webber’s boat mates have their own particular human traits including a nice turn from Ben Foster, but ultimately the film focuses on man vs elements in a thrilling bid for survival. Although patriotic by its very nature, the movie does not dwell on flag-waving elements but tells an extraordinary tale of ordinary men doing their job in dire circumstances. Pine is perfectly cast as the real-life Webber, ,who is as likeable as he is dedicated to duty beyond the call. Foster, John Magara and Kyle Gallner all make up a believable, if in-over-their-heads boat crew for Pine to navigate.

Director Craig Gillespie steers the ship in ways that never let the action overtake the human element, but have no worry — this film is loaded with almost nonstop excitement as the clock and the weather collide to make a successful rescue seemingly impossible. The score by Carter Burwell perfectly complements the visuals, and the CGI effects — which took more than a year in post-production — are more than worth the effort and money. It’s all on the screen. The Fighter’s scripting team of Scott Silver, Paul Tamsay and Eric Johnson adapting Casey Sherman’s book nicely avoid the cliches of this kind of flick and stick to business, avoiding the traps that sunk Ron Howard’s recent ocean tale In The Heart Of The Sea. Hopefully this one won’t suffer a similar fate. Producers are Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero.

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Sundance Sensation ‘Manchester By The Sea’ Near $10M Amazon Deal

Deadline Hollywood
January 25, 2016

UPDATE Amazon has acquired domestic rights for Manchester By The Sea, a deal Deadline exclusively revealed.

(Mark Mann)

(Mark Mann)

EXCLUSIVE: Amazon is closing a $10 million deal for domestic rights to Manchester By The Sea, the Kenneth Lonergan-directed drama that premiered Saturday to the best reviews of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival so far. This after an all night auction for a movie that Amazon acquired with plans for a traditional theatrical release with an awards season campaign. Sony, Universal, Fox and Lionsgate were into this and topped out in high seven figures in a WME Global brokered deal. Sierra is handling foreign so by the time all is said and done, this could be a $20 million deal and one of the biggest seen on these slopes in some time.
manchester-by-the-sea
Scripted by Lonergan, the director of You Can Count On Me and Margaret, Manchester By The Sea stars Casey Affleck as a man who, after the death of his brother, is forced to return home to care for his 16-year old nephew and confront a tragic past that separated him from his family and the community where he was raised. Kyle Chandler and Michelle Williams also star. By Saturday evening, big numbers were already on the table from a number of bidders.

The film’s produced by Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Kevin Walsh and Lauren Beck and it was widely reported in reviews that Damon was originally slated to star. When he couldn’t, Damon turned to Affleck, younger brother of his Good Will Hunting co-star. Affleck has turned in superb performances in that film, as well as Gone Baby Gone, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Out Of The Furnace, and he stars in The Finest Hours, the Coast Guard rescue tale which Disney manchester
opens Friday. Manchester By The Sea might be the one that really launches Affleck’s star and puts him in the Oscar conversation for 2017. There are also strong performances by Brokeback Mountain‘s Williams and by Chandler, who has gone from Friday Night Lights into the Netflix series Bloodline, and films that include Zero Dark Thirty, The Wolf of Wall Street and most recently Carol, which is nominated for six Oscars.

The Manchester By The Sea deal is the first big one of Sundance, which so far has been slow going as buyers see the most prominent films. A deal is imminent for Author: The JT Leroy, the documentary that had Amazon, Sony Pictures Classics, The Weinstein Company and The Orchard pursuing, though Amazon had the inside track on a low seven figure deal. There is action on the football docu Gleason, Morris From America, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, the frat hazing drama Goat and Weiner-Dog.

The slow deal pace isn’t surprising; a few breakout titles like Under The Shadow and Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship were scooped up by streaming services Netflix and Amazon before the festival began. When there are no clear must-have titles, buyers often wait until they see the first weekend’s offerings before they pounce. Manchester By The Sea clearly rose above that pack and went quickly. Today sees the premiere of several more hot titles including the James Schamus-directed adaptation of the Philip Roth novel Indignation with Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon, so Sunday night could be another long one for sellers and buyers. Nate Parker’s Birth of A Nation comes Monday.

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Screening of ‘The Finest Hours’ will honor Station Menemsha crew

By Nelson Sigelman
Martha’s Vineyard Times
January 20, 2016

Martha’s Vineyard coasties, active and retired, will be special guests at a showing of the newly released film that depicts a famed rescue.

his archival photo shows the CG-36500 MLB upon its return to the Chatham Fish Pier with 32 rescued Pendleton crewmen on board. EN3 Andrew Fitzgerald is on the bow ready to handle the tie-up at the pier. —Photo by Richard C. Kelsey, Chatham

his archival photo shows the CG-36500 MLB upon its return to the Chatham Fish Pier with 32 rescued Pendleton crewmen on board. EN3 Andrew Fitzgerald is on the bow ready to handle the tie-up at the pier. —Photo by Richard C. Kelsey, Chatham

new-TFH-poster-11-10-15-205x304“The Finest Hours,” a Disney film starring Chris Pine, Eric Bana, and Casey Affleck set to be released next week, tells the story of one of the most dramatic sea rescues in Coast Guard history.The producers had no need to dramatize the event on which it is based, because one would be hard-pressed to outdo the well-documented facts.

magine setting out on a pitch-black February night in a 36-foot wooden boat into a howling winter blizzard, knowing you would have to make it through roaring surf breaking on a sandbar. You get over the bar and then face 50-foot waves you must plow through without any navigational equipment, to look for a group of men desperately counting on your arrival. You could turn back, nobody would blame you, in those conditions.

The crew of the Chatham Coast Guard station, all volunteers, had plenty to consider the night of Feb. 18, 1952, when called on to help rescue the crew of a tanker that had split in two.

Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Bernard Webber, Junior Engineer Andrew Fitzgerald, Seaman Richard Livesey, and Seaman Irving Maske, who was not even assigned to the station but volunteered, boarded Coast Guard motorized lifeboat (MLB) 36500 and headed through the surf. A wave smashed the windshield and ripped away the compass as they navigated Chatham Bar, but they did not turn back.

The surf boats of that era were designed to carry a crew of four, plus up to 12 people in a rescue. On that perilous night, the crew of the CG-36500, dressed in foul-weather gear that seems laughable by today’s high-tech Gore-Tex standards, rescued 32 of 33 men from the stern of the tanker Pendleton, because Bernie Webber was unwilling to leave anyone behind.

And his crew was only one part of the story. Another MLB from Nantucket and a Coast Guard cutter joined the effort to rescue the crew of not one but two split tankers.

The movie is based on the book, “The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue,” by co-authors Michael Tougias and Casey Sherman. Mr. Tougias has visited the Vineyard several times to speak at Island libraries about his numerous books, most of which tell gripping stories about survival and rescue at sea.

Despite the fear
In an email exchange last week, Mr. Tougias told The Times he had intentionally not seen the entire film because he wanted to wait for the premiere in Hollywood.

MVT: What was it like for you, knowing all the details of the rescue, to watch the filming?

Mr. Tougias: It was a little surreal walking into the movie set. For years I had the image of the Pendleton in my mind and imagined what it looked like from the water. And on the movie set they created the very image, using tons of steel to create half an oil tanker rising up from a giant pool. What really impressed me was the detail — from the rust on the side of the tanker to the old Jacob’s ladder. But yet it didn’t surprise me, because I had such respect for the two producers. In fact, each of them had previously produced movies that were among my favorites. Dorothy Aufiero produced “The Fighter” and Jim Whitaker produced “Cinderella Man.”

MVT: What was the strongest impression you took from the filming and the screenplay?

Mr. Tougias: That the Disney team tried to catch the essence of Bernie Webber — a reluctant, humble hero who just did what he had trained to do. And the scenes of Bernie and his crew taking their little 36-foot boat over the 50-foot breaking waves at the Chatham Bar were exactly like I pictured it. How they filmed that is a mystery to me. And those actors sure were wet and cold from all the many takes.

MVT: What do you hope people take from this film?

Mr. Tougias: That you can accomplish great things if you all pull toward the same goal and don’t worry about who gets the glory. People will see that Bernie overcame earlier failures, and still managed to do something incredible. And most importantly, these four rescuers had real fear, but they were able to continue to do the mission despite fear. It is normal to have fear and to be nervous — you just have to channel that into energy and take things one step at a time.

Special invitation

The residents of Martha’s Vineyard have a special affection and respect for the men and women of the United States Coast Guard that comes from living surrounded by the sea. Islanders rely on the Coast Guard to maintain the vital links that support the Vineyard community — and when all else fails, comes to their assistance.

In recognition of that bond, on Sunday, Jan. 31, at 4 pm, The Martha’s Vineyard Times, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, and USCG Flotilla 11-9 will sponsor a screening of “The Finest Hours” at which the special guests will be the Station Menemsha crew and immediate family members, and Capt. John Kondratowicz, Commander of Sector Southeastern New England.

Station Menemsha, with a crew of approximately 24 men and women, is responsible for an area that includes the waters west to the Rhode Island border, 50 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Buzzard’s Bay, and Vineyard Sound.

Equipment at their disposal includes two 47-foot motor lifeboats (MLB) and one 25-foot response boat.

The workhorse of the life-saving fleet, the MLB has a top speed of 25 knots. What it lacks in speed it makes up for in rugged, all-weather durability. The 47 is designed to operate in up to 50-knot winds, towering 30-foot seas and 20-foot surf. The MLB is completely self-righting: if a wave knocks it completely upside down it will roll until it is upright.

Its earlier precursor was the 36-foot MLB. Beyond the fact that Station Menemsha and Chatham share the same general sense of geographical isolation, there is a historical link.

This 1968 photo shows Coast Guardsman Wayne Iacono of Chilmark at the helm of the famed CG36500 MLB. —Photo Courtesy of Wayne Iacono

This 1968 photo shows Coast Guardsman Wayne Iacono of Chilmark at the helm of the famed CG36500 MLB. —Photo Courtesy of Wayne Iacono


Bernie Webber served on Martha’s Vineyard when the Coast Guard was located at Station Gay Head, and the lifeboat that was at the heart of the rescue mission saw service at Station Menemsha.

Mr. Iacono said everybody in the Coast Guard knew the story of the rescue; it was part of Coast Guard lore.

“I felt very honored to be able to run that boat,” Mr. Iacono told The Times.

The screening of “The Finest Hours” will be followed by a question-and-answer session with BMCS Robert Riemer, Officer in Charge and Capt. John Kondratowicz, Commander of Sector Southeastern New England. The Times is also offering free admission to former Coast Guardsmen (please RSVP at 508-693-6100, ext. 4, by Jan. 25). For ticket information, go to mvfilmsociety.com/2016/01/the-finest-hours/.

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Dean College lecture series announces ‘Finest Hours’ team as guest speakers

The Milford Daily News
January 20, 2016

FRANKLIN — Dean College will host the producer and the author of “The Finest Hours” for the Dean College Leadership Institute Leadership In Action Lecture Series at 4 p.m. March 3 in the Guidrey Center at Dean College, 99 Main St.

The Leadership Series offers an opportunity for students, alumni and the local community to interact with today’s business leaders.

Film producer Dorothy Aufiero will be joined by author Casey Sherman to discuss their journey together from page to screen. “The Finest Hours” is set for worldwide release beginning Jan. 29. The film chronicles the greatest Coast Guard rescue in American history in February 1952 off Cape Cod and stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Eric Bana, Ben Foster and Holliday Grainger. “The Finest Hours” was filmed entirely in Massachusetts.

The program is free and open to the public. Registration is required due to limited seating. For more information and to register, visit dean.edu.

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Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker 2016: Top 10 Big Cities

By Christianne Hedtke and Kathy Lindboe
MovieMaker Magazine
January 20, 2016

Copy-of-Headhunters-calling1-620x400

Think global but shoot local. Here’s where you’ll love doing that.

Used to be if you wanted to work in the movies there were only a couple of places to be, kid. No longer: In 2016 you can audition actors in Tokyo via Skype, then upload your projects to Dropbox and send them to New York for instant review while still in your jammies. What’s more, if you build it, they really will come; cities around the country that have invested in large-scale production are drawing Hollywood shoots to their home turf in growing numbers, affording moviemakers the opportunity to explore a spectrum of lifestyles, cultures, and communities. So the question is more pervasive than ever: Where to?

In our continuing mission to make the lives of independent moviemakers even better, we take time each year to spotlight the most promising and fertile places in the country to put down roots. We scour the nation, poll film commissions, trawl through data, and interview moviemakers in hundreds of localities. Because there are so many variables endemic to comparing the Big Apple with Orange County, for example, we assembled the rankings based on the following factors: Film Production in 2015 (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 encapsulates lifestyle, weather and transportation.

As per recent tradition, we put together a standalone list of 10 big cities (pop. 400,000 and up), but this year we combined small cities (pop. 100,000 to 400,000) and towns (pop. 100,000 and under) into a single list, also of 10. (Note: To maintain uniformity across our rankings, we measured population by the city proper, and not the surrounding metro areas.) We hope that whatever you’re looking for, these two lists convey the best of the places where you, the future of American cinema, can live well and make your home a wellspring for your cinematic ambitions. Welcome to your next adventure.

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1. Atlanta, Georgia

You don’t always have to be the center of attention to get noticed. Such is the case for this bustling metropolis. Atlanta’s doing everything right and then some to accommodate moviemaker locals and transplants, without having to endure a perma-celebrity culture.

In recent years Georgia has quietly become home to one of the biggest film industries in the U.S., ranking third in production levels amongst states. Between the support personnel, infrastructure and increasing workforce development, Atlanta has been steadily securing a stable and exciting future in the feature film world. The state’s tax incentive program offers, effectively, 30 percent transferable credit (20 plus 10 if you use the state’s logo in your credits) for qualifying productions, which contributed $6 billion generated to the state last year. There’s no cap or sunset clause.

Georgia on our minds: stately Atlanta rang in at sixth place on 2015’s list, but comes out top in 2016. Courtesy of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment

Georgia on our minds: stately Atlanta rang in at sixth place on 2015’s list, but comes out top in 2016. Courtesy of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment


This was largely due to studio films and series such as Ant Man, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Barbershop 3, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Walking Dead, Quantico and Furious 7. Ant Man alone employed more than 3,500 Georgians, and the title “Hollywood of the East Coast” feels thoroughly earned. (On a smaller scale, Rob Burnett’s Sundance 2016 closing night film, The Fundamentals of Caring, also shot in the city.) Much of that traffic came out of Pinewood Studios, a full service film and entertainment complex comprised of 11 sound stages on 700 acres just south of Atlanta.

“It seems that the east and west are meeting here in Atlanta,” says casting director Tiandra Gayle of Atlanta’s NightinGayle Casting. “It’s certainly much more cost-effective to shoot here!”

The Atlanta set of the upcoming Captain America 3: Civil War. Courtesy of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment

The Atlanta set of the upcoming Captain America 3: Civil War. Courtesy of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment

Atlanta actor Derrick LeMont Sanders agrees. “The Atlanta community is growing and talent is being added to the pool every month. And the studios are beginning to cast larger roles here. Add to that several new production studios in the works, and I’m looking to a bright future for Georgia film.”

Don’t worry, indies; it’s not all Hollywood expats and Tyler Perry acolytes. Atlanta’s independent scene is expanding, as well, with support from the Independent Media Artists of Georgia, the respected Atlanta Film Festival, Women in Film and Television Atlanta, and the Atlanta Film Society. Industry job growth can also be attributed to Mayor Kasim Reed and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local (IATSE) 479. They recently launched the City of Atlanta Entertainment Training Program, the first job training program in the United States focused on helping the film industry build a talent pool of trained below-the-line workers with relevant experience.

The Atlanta History Center’s Swan House appeared in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 as President Snow’s mansion. Courtesy of Lionsgate

The Atlanta History Center’s Swan House appeared in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 as President Snow’s mansion. Courtesy of Lionsgate


This city has a hip-hop scene that rivals New York and L.A. The restaurant culture is thriving. Housing is affordable—the average rent for an apartment in metro Atlanta is $1,003 per month. There are four distinct seasons (although the humidity might be a fifth) and 217 days of the year are pure sunshine.

You might not ever have—or want—to leave. With so many actors, writers, directors and producers in the city, you can schedule your next big meeting at one of Atlanta’s 132 Waffle House locations instead of flying to some vaulted office thousands of miles away. Waffles, grits and a greenlight? Win-win-win.

2. New York, New York

Make it there, you’ll make it anywhere. Is that still true, Frank? Because there are 8.5 million people all trying to make it there, and if you’re in the business of film, you have some steep competition. Luckily, New York continues to present a veritable cascade of opportunities in TV and film with 256 films and 46 primetime episodic, digital and mini-series projects shot in the 2014-15 season (up from the year before).

Of course, rent is high, apartments are small, and the overall cost of living can make the daily grind seem almost impossible to maintain long-term. Where do New Yorkers find the strength to wait for another subway train, hail another taxi, stand in line at Duane Reade, or fight for a table at Sushi Nakazawa? After the collective spells of Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Nora Ephron, Spike Lee and Lena Dunham lure you into the city’s boroughs, what keeps you going?

ebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan stars New York favorites Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke. Courtesy of TIFF

ebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan stars New York favorites Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke. Courtesy of TIFF


Mandy Ward, co-founder of the five-day festival First Time Fest, says her New York-survival mantra is “Don’t show your weaknesses or insecurities, and live with passion.” She explains: “Success in New York depends on you. I’ve been in the city for 13 years and have found a way to work in the industry as a locations manager, producer and film festival owner—and also pay my rent. With a great city comes sacrifice, but you can always figure it out.”

Craig Shilowich, writer and producer of Christine (in competition at this year’s Sundance Film Festival), has been making movies in New York for 15 years and counting. He has collected some refreshing evidence against the city’s reputation for being too costly. “People have a misconception that shooting in New York City is more expensive than shooting elsewhere. I find it’s the opposite—that if you want to pull something off on the cheap, New York tends to be one of the better places to do it.” He credits the state’s stable and generous tax credit, ease of securing permits, and tight-knit, skilled crew pool for that.

Antonio Campos’ Christine, premiering at Sundance, was shot in part in New York City. Photograph by Joe Anderson

Antonio Campos’ Christine, premiering at Sundance, was shot in part in New York City. Photograph by Joe Anderson


New York’s 300 square miles of city streets, parks and architecture have provided the backdrop for hundreds of films—such as, in 2015, Rebecca Miller’s Maggie’s Plan, Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, the star-studded rom-com How to Be Single, Zach Braff’s Going in Style … you know, the usual roster. Perhaps the biggest star to emerge in recent years, though, is the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, with its “Made in NY” program assisting productions with permits, police, marketing and other pieces of the logistical puzzle of shooting.

So you still wanna wake up in the city that never sleeps? Then here’s your survival guide: Reach out to potential collaborators in students and faculty at Columbia and NYU, the School of Visual Arts, The New School and New York Film Academy. Volunteer at a film festival, like Tribeca, New York Film Festival, New Fest, DOC NYC, Big Apple Film Festival and so on. Feed your cinematic soul at the IFC Center, Angelika, Film Forum, Landmark Sunshine, BAM Rose, Village East and The Ziegfeld. There are even brand new art house cinemas planned for this year. So go see theater, walk the High Line, picnic in Central Park, snap opinionated selfies by the Trump Tower and tell yourself, “I can make it here!”

3. Austin, Texas

If you’ve never been to South by Southwest, do yourself a favor and buy a pass now. A week at this fest may be all it takes to convince you to move to cooler-than-cool Austin. Robert Rodriguez and Richard Linklater paved the way for anyone to reject the notion that living on a coast is a requirement for a serious indie moviemaker, building a solid film community with plenty of resources in the way of studios and soundstages—like Austin Studios, ATX Studios, Spiderwood Studios and Troublemaker Studios.

Actress Hannah Marks in the Austin-shot indie feature Slash, directed by Clay Liford. Photograph by Whitney Devin

Actress Hannah Marks in the Austin-shot indie feature Slash, directed by Clay Liford. Photograph by Whitney Devin


But if you’ve already been to SXSW, and need more relatable examples than Linklater and Rodriguez, then take it from two of Austin’s contemporary working filmmakers.

Malaysian-born Yen Tan, who made the 2013 Sundance-premiering feature Pit Stop, works in Austin because “the sense of community here is unparalleled. Most Austin-based filmmakers know and support each other. That remains the biggest draw to me.” What if you’re new to film, new to Austin—where to even begin? “The Austin Film Society would be the very first place one should look into,” says Tan. “They have year-round screenings that’d impress even the most hardcore film aficionados, and events that facilitate a lot of networking. Being a member of the organization is a must.”

Jason Cortlund is the co-director of features Now, Forager (2012) and La Barracuda (shooting in the spring) and has been living and working in Austin for the past 20 years since attending the University of Texas. He does express some concern that Austin’s cinematic day in the sun has a shelf life, with recent Texas legislation reducing filmmaking grants from $95 million to $32 million—one reason our multi-time Big City champ has fallen slightly this year. “I wish the state incentive programs would improve, for both out-of-towners and locals. Every time a Texas-set story is shot in Georgia or Louisiana for budgetary reasons, Eagle Pennell sheds a tear in heaven.”

Longhorns 2.0? Michael Jones, Colton Dunn, Gavin Free and Burnie Burns in sci-fi comedy Lazer Team, the first feature by Austin’s own Rooster Teeth studio. Courtesy of Rooster Teeth Productions

Longhorns 2.0? Michael Jones, Colton Dunn, Gavin Free and Burnie Burns in sci-fi comedy Lazer Team, the first feature by Austin’s own Rooster Teeth studio. Courtesy of Rooster Teeth Productions


Even as storm clouds gather around public funding for Texas productions, Austin remains weird, cool and friendly. The city has famous bars and BBQ. There are more than 300 days of sunshine, a deep pool of seasoned crew and production staff, top-notch film schools and a nigh-unparalleled line-up of film festivals and independent theaters. And hey, beyond the scrappy indies, if shows like American Crime, The Leftovers, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and Urban Cowboy keep knocking as they did in 2015, y’all can keep the industry you love alive and thriving.

4. Los Angeles, California

Speaking of sunshine, the reasons to move to L.A. can seem obvious: There were more than 9,000 projects shot there in 2015, which generated over $15 billion in wages alone. Because schools like USC, UCLA and AFI have taught some of the brightest film students ever. Because there are hundreds of specialized rental houses, production and post facilities and over five million square feet of soundstage and studio space. How’s that for infrastructure?

You’ll meet hundreds of cinephiles and inspiring creators, whether at a guild open house, one of L.A.’s constellation of art house theaters, or the newly opened downtown Broad Museum. Indeed, movies are just one part of the modern L.A. arts boom. “The industry seems to touch almost every aspect of the city in some way,” says producer and actress Teah Strandjord. “Places like the Upright Citizens Brigade, the Margaret Herrick Library and the Walt Disney Concert Hall are where artists are performing at their finest, where information and ideas are exchanged, and where a filmmaker can take meaningful part in the discourse of all facets of art.”

Andrew Ahn’s Sundance-premiering Spa Night takes the Korean spas of Los Angeles as its setting. Photograph by Ki Jin Kim

Andrew Ahn’s Sundance-premiering Spa Night takes the Korean spas of Los Angeles as its setting. Photograph by Ki Jin Kim


At the same time, “it truly is a company town,” says actor, screenwriter and director Todd Berger (The Scenesters, It’s a Disaster). “So many people you meet in everyday life have jobs in some capacity of the movie industry. Because of that, no one is impressed with me. Who isn’t a writer-director in L.A.? That motivates me to work harder to create something different and interesting. In a lot of cities, if someone finds out you’re making an independent film, they’ll assume it’s going to be good. In L.A., people just assume it’s going to be bad. I’m forced to have to stand out, and I like that challenge.”

Actor, comedian, producer and director Jeff Grace has lived in L.A. for 10 years and just completed post-production on his first feature film, Folk Hero and Funny Guy. He likes a lot about the city: “We’re spoiled beyond belief, with an abundance of talented actors and crew who will work for below a sensible wage if they like your project. You feel like much less of a poor bohemian deadbeat living in L.A. as an artist than I imagine you would living in banking and tech hubs like New York or San Francisco.”

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin in the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, set in L.A. during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Scarlett Johansson and Josh Brolin in the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, set in L.A. during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Courtesy of Universal Pictures


In L.A. a production can earn up to 25 percent, transferable in the case of indies, on a minimum-$1 million budget. And California’s recently expanded tax credit budget (which went up from $100 million to $330 million in 2014) is drawing many productions back to the Golden State.

And if all else fails, there’s always work in Hollywood’s Big Red Son—you know, the porn industry—which always needs major below-the-line talent, too.

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is on fire—and not just because it’s one of the driest places in the country. This desert city is consistently landing some of the most exciting productions in the nation, taking a major leap up on our list this year.

2015 saw a huge influx in high-profile projects, from the ongoing production of AMC’s Better Call Saul, to the long-awaited reboot Independence Day: Resurgence, whose reported production budget of $200 million brought an influx of cash and months of production work to ABQ moviemakers. The city also saw the production of TV series The Night Shift and Graves, and features such as Comancheria (by Starred Up director David Mackenzie, starring Jeff Bridges), Stephen Gaghan’s Gold with Matthew McConaughey, and a slew of low-budget indies.

Tequila sunrise: The first original feature from horror distributor Scream Factory, Fender Bender shot in Albuquerque late 2015. Photograph by Carl Lucas

Tequila sunrise: The first original feature from horror distributor Scream Factory, Fender Bender shot in Albuquerque late 2015. Photograph by Carl Lucas

What’s drawing these projects to Albuquerque? Well, the state’s comprehensive film incentives, for one thing: a 25-30 percent refundable tax credit with no minimum spend, plus the forward-thinking Film Crew Advancement Program, which facilitates on-the-job training and reimburses productions for 50 percent of a local crew member’s labor if the production moves him or her up the ladder. Also, in an effort to integrate moviemaking with local day-to-day life, the city encourages productions to award a $100-per-day stipend to public programs in the neighborhoods most affected by film shoots. “We started this program in 2008,” says the city’s Film Liaison, Ann Lerner, “and to date the movie industry has raised $103,460 to help neighborhood groups.”

The Albuquerque culture is one that rallies around moviemakers, with at least 10 film festivals, two film schools, an award-winning film commission and indie cinemas to spare. Plus, the physical backdrop is a sunny chameleon that can stand in for myriad environments. Albuquerque’s surroundings doubled for Afghanistan in 2013’s Lone Survivor, and on the recent production of The Space Between Us, a Gary Oldman film about a boy raised on Mars, we’re guessing the rust-colored deserts surrounding Albuquerque stood in for the Red Planet. (The Space Between Us was also the first feature film to shoot at Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport, located in Southern New Mexico.)

All signs point to an Albuquerque that dominates the national moviemaking stage in the years to come.

6. Chicago, Illinois

Perhaps no moviemaker celebrated the city of Chicago’s onscreen majesty with more zeal than the late, great John Hughes, who showcased the city as a virtual Candy Land of locations: between the iconic skyline, gorgeous brownstones, suburban mansions, gritty urban backdrops, the “L,” and Lake Michigan, the city can be made to look old, new, warm, cold, polished, rough and beachy.

Beyond mere aesthetics, Chicago has all the gravitas of the nation’s third biggest city—culture, nightlife, arts and good eats—with a Midwestern vibe, reasonable housing costs, deep dish pizza, and a miraculous infrastructure by which cars and a far-reaching public transportation system coexist in harmony.

A street scene for TV’s Empire unfolds in Chicago in 2015. Courtesy of Fox

A street scene for TV’s Empire unfolds in Chicago in 2015. Courtesy of Fox


With hundreds of feature films and TV productions coming through each year and a healthy 30 percent statewide tax incentive, the Windy City draws coveted properties to its shores. 2015 saw the productions of Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, Melissa McCarthy’s forthcoming comedy, The Boss, Mark Williams’ The Headhunter’s Calling, the Sundance 2016-premiering Southside with You, broadcast TV’s highest rated series of the season, Empire, and Starz’s adaptation of Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, to name a few.

Chicago also has a rich tradition of theater and improv comedy—with companies such as Goodman, Steppenwolf, TimeLine and Second City—from which some of our nation’s most beloved characters emerged. But while this talent pool often grew up in Chicago and then migrated to larger markets like New York and L.A., local filmmaker Kris Swanberg (writer-director of Sundance 2015’s Unexpected) is spearheading a trend toward staying put. “I’m hoping that when people like Joe [Swanberg, her husband] and me and other filmmakers here in the city choose to make work here, more and more talent will stay and it can become a symbiotic relationship.”

Chiraq still photographs

Chiraq still photographs


Chicago cinephiles seem dedicated to keeping moviemaking talent local. A whopping 40 annual film festivals call Chicago home, and with eight film schools and a lion’s share of long-running indie cinemas, Chicago makes a great home for the independent moviemaker looking to crew up or make their own work. As long as you can stand the winters.

7. Seattle, Washington

Rainy, brainy Seattle is making a comeback this year after slipping off our list in 2015. With nearly 3,000 local crew hires in 2015 and 2,000 local talent hires, more features and TV series are moving through the coffee capital of the world: like Syfy’s Z Nation, a unit on Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, and the long-awaited reboot of Twin Peaks.

Washington State’s financial incentive offers 30 percent cash back on local expenditure (up to 35 percent for some TV), with additional sales tax exemptions on assets like equipment rentals and housing. Seattle’s moviemaking community is directing grassroots efforts toward raising the $3.5 million statewide cap on film spends, as well.

It’s not all urban sidewalks and coffee in Seattle for some intrepid crews. Courtesy of Craig Stewart Locations

It’s not all urban sidewalks and coffee in Seattle for some intrepid crews. Courtesy of Craig Stewart Locations


Amazon and Microsoft (which the local moviemakers lovingly name “Seattle’s Artist Support System”) provide opportunities for short-form commercial and corporate work that can keep a moviemaker afloat between feature projects. They’re also interested in exploring VR, immersive storytelling and other forms of new media.

Seattle-based director and cinematographer Ben Kasulke observes that the tech boom has “opened a lot more doors to potential storytellers who are not specifically feature-film driven. There are more opportunities to be a director in a non-traditional sense.” The state’s film commission, Washington Filmworks, offers special incentives for new media through their Innovation Lab, and events like the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival showcase the intersection of tech and storytelling.

Something else we love? Female moviemakers find a more level playing field in Seattle. “It’s a very female-driven industry up there,” Seattle stalwart Lynn Shelton said at L.A.’s Film Independent Forum in October 2015. “Producers and directors who are women make up at least half of the force.”

If the great outdoors and legal recreational marijuana are your jam—and you don’t mind a relatively high cost of living—Seattle is the place to be.

8. Boston, Massachusetts

What’s it really like to make a go of it in Boston for everyone not named Damon, Affleck or Wahlberg? The Washington Post national arts reporter, writer-producer of Boston-made docs Do It Again and “5 Runners,” and all-round good guy Geoff Edgers lists three major benefits about the city:

“1. Students who know the fast keys. Robert Patton-Spruill, who directed Do It Again, teaches at Emerson College. Our editor, Brad Allen Wilde, was an undergraduate mentored by Rob. Many of the crew members were Emerson kids. On “5 Runners,” about the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston University senior Michela Smith started as an intern before becoming an associate producer and assistant editor. We simply couldn’t have made either of our films without these students. I just hope that one day they’ll take my call.

The Boston skyline in panorama. Courtesy of Pixabay

The Boston skyline in panorama. Courtesy of Pixabay

2. Low profile. Pull out your sticks in Los Angeles and it’ll take about 29 seconds before a friendly law enforcement officer asks to see your permit. In Boston, we could stage a bank robbery in a mall without much trouble. It was easy to get permission to shoot on locations without fees, and arrange a shoot on a moving bus. In addition, bartering for equipment was possible. David O. Russell may be in town, but you don’t have 13 other projects running at the same time. The last thing a rental house wants to have is a light package gathering dust.

3. Film festival culture. The Independent Film Festival of Boston is wonderful, but so are a slew of festivals throughout New England. I grew to love the small festivals that couldn’t afford screening fees but might be able to offer you a small cabin by a lake for a couple of days during the festival run. (I mean you, Maine Film Festival.) Local universities were eager to screen our film and hold Q&A sessions afterward, too.”

There you have it—reasons why Boston continues to have its time in the Spotlight (get it?).

9. San Francisco, California

Attracting unscripted content that capitalizes on the startup culture endemic to the Golden Gate City, San Francisco saw productions like Shark Tank, House Hunters, and Million Dollar Listing San Francisco in 2015. Scripted content peaked with HBO’s Looking and the granddaddy-of-the-tech-boom biopic Steve Jobs.

Grand enough for ya? Steve Jobs director Danny Boyle and Michael Fassbender at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, March 2015

Grand enough for ya? Steve Jobs director Danny Boyle and Michael Fassbender at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco, March 2015


Yes, the skyrocketing cost of living might make things a little challenging for indie moviemakers. As with Seattle (and, yes, Boston), however, if your independent spirit can cross the corpus callosum into the corporate universe unscathed, there’s a bounty of short-form and creative branded content to keep you busy forever, and seriously help pay the rent. SF-based companies like Pixar, Google, Dolby, George Lucas’s suite of SFX labs, and gaming companies like Sega and Electronic Arts all employ hundreds of artists and technicians apiece. Sure, they aren’t exactly indie rabble-rousers, but they do hire writers, animators and creative developers.

When it comes to good old celluloid, San Francisco still has one of the richest film communities around, with 25 film festivals, five film schools, a bevy of grant-giving film organizations and a dense bed of independent movie theaters—and yes, living legends like Francis Ford Coppola and Chris Columbus, who base themselves out of the city. And let’s be honest, that San Francisco cityscape is magical and totally unmistakable. Good luck trying to shoot Vancouver for that scenery.

10. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is consistently ranked in the top 10 cheapest cities in the country. Considering Memphis’ culture and history, what bang for your buck! And not just music and BBQ; we’re talking film history too: Homegrown regional theater chain Malco Theatres, which offers self-distribution deals for indies, celebrated its 100th birthday in 2015. At Malco’s Summer Drive-In, the only remaining drive-in theatre in the region, Jimmy Tashie, Mike McCarthy and Matt Martin, co-owners of the hip independent video store Black Lodge Video, hold the Time Warp series of classic and genre screenings.

Memphis was repped on the 2015 international circuit by the award-winning drama Free in Deed, set in the city’s storefront churches. Writer-director Jake Mahaffy was persuaded to move the project to Memphis in 2014 after original plans to shoot in Detroit, and the film ended up involving many from the small, tight-knit local indie scene.

Free in Deed won the Orizzonti Award at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. Courtesy of AFI Fest

Free in Deed won the Orizzonti Award at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. Courtesy of AFI Fest

Tennessee offers no tax credit incentives at the moment, but it offers 25 percent cash back to qualified productions for in-state expenditures. There’s life in this city yet: In spring 2015 a small contingent of Memphis and Shelby County legislators and local power brokers, coordinated by powerhouse film commissioner Linn Sitler secured $4 million in state film incentives for Memphis and Shelby Country-specific projects. That’s a pretty good start.

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On the Cusp

Dallas, Texas
More than 500 projects were shot in Dallas in 2015, with more shows, both scripted and unscripted, on the books for 2016. The city continues to grow, with 8.8 million people and an unemployment rate of only 4.1 percent… and there’s no personal or corporate income tax. Gadi Elkon, entertainment editor of the Selig Film News, brags about his “amazing city,” highlighting everything from the renowned Nasher Sculpture Center to production facilities at Mercury Studios. Dallas is a city on the rise.

Portland, Oregon
Its substantial film culture is what we love most about Portland, with an impressive 17 independent cinemas (including possibly the most vibrant in the country, The Hollywood Theatre), 14 festivals, and indie bigwigs such as Gus van Sant and Todd Haynes calling the city home. Production facilities and tax incentives are solid, but need to improve to offset Portland’s rising cost of living and land the city back in our top 10. Nevertheless, productions like NBC’s Grimm and, TNT’s The Librarians, and, of course, IFC’s Portlandia boost the profile of this misty creative mecca. MM

This article appears in MovieMaker’s Winter 2016 issue. Illustrations by Jon Boam. Featured image from Chicago-shot The Headhunter’s Calling.

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Oscar nominees with Boston-area ties

By Globe Staff
Boston Globe
January 14, 2015

From left: Michael Keaton as Walter "Robby" Robinson, Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron, Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes, Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr., and Brian d'Arcy James as Matt Carroll in a scene from the film "Spotlight."

From left: Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robinson, Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron, Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes, Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer, John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr., and Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll in a scene from the film “Spotlight.”

The Oscar nominations were announced Thursday morning, and among them are a few films with Boston-area ties.

‘Spotlight’

The film about the Boston Globe’s coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church received six Oscar nominations: Best picture; Tom McCarthy for best director; Mark Ruffalo for best actor in a supporting role; Rachel McAdams for best actress in a supporting role; film editing; and writing-original screenplay.

Matt Damon

The Cambridge native has been nominated for best actor in a leading role for “The Martian,” which focuses on Damon’s character, an astronaut stranded on Mars who’s presumed dead and needs to find his way back to Earth. The film is nominated for a total of seven Oscars, including best picture.

“’The Martian’ really, truly works — not as art, necessarily, but as the sort of epic, intelligent entertainment the mainstream film industry has supposedly forgotten how to craft,” writes critic Ty Burr in his review of the movie.

(Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox via AP)

(Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox via AP)

Matt Damon in a scene from the film “The Martian.”

‘Joy’

The movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by David O. Russell, filmed scenes in the Boston area, including Haverhill, Lynn, and Wilmington. The actress’s character in the film was inspired by Joy Mangano, who invented the Miracle Mop.

Lawrence, who was nominated for best actress in a leading role, talked about what it was like to film “Joy” in Boston during the snowy winter of 2015 in a recent issue of Vogue. “David and I kept saying, ‘Merry Christmas’ to each other to try to make ourselves feel better, but it didn’t work.”

(Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

(Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from the film “Joy.”

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New England offers unique ways to enjoy films new and old

By Moira McCarthy
Boston Herald
January 14, 2016

Two customers purchase snacks at the concession stand of the Plimoth Plantation Theater, located in the museum's visitor center. /photo courtesy Plimoth Plantation

Two customers purchase snacks at the concession stand of the Plimoth Plantation Theater, located in the museum’s visitor center. /photo courtesy Plimoth Plantation

It’s that glorious time of year for film lovers. The Academy Award nominations are out today, and the rush will be on to see all the con­tenders before the Oscar broadcast on Feb. 28. Of course, new movies are also hitting theaters, and classic film buffs can always find a screen. It’s the perfect time to see a movie, or three or four. Here are some great ways to learn more about and see films new, upcoming and classic here in New England. Consider these twists on your “average movie run” to make this peak film season all the more special.

Hang out with the authors: “The Finest Hours” doesn’t hit theaters until Jan. 29, but the buzz about it is fierce. That the based-on-a-true-story film has New England roots makes it cool in itself. But check this out: The Chatham Bars Inn is planning an exclusive movie-­opening party and cele­bratory travel package, introducing guests to the authors of the novel that inspired the film, all in remembrance of the historical event that took place off the coast of New England in 1952. Artifacts from the rescue mission will be on display at the resort in January and February, provided by the Coast Guard Heritage Museum and the Orleans Historical Society.

The Chatham Bars Inn’s The Finest Hours Package offers a weekend of festivities Jan. 29-31. The package includes a two-night stay, daily breakfast, a welcome cocktail reception with the authors of “The Finest Hours” novel, Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias, and a screening of “The Finest Hours” at the Chatham Orpheum Theater followed by a Q&A with the authors. It’s like Hollywood comes to you, right up against the sea the movie is set in. (More details at www.chathambarsinn.com.)

Catch an Oscar contender the old-school way: In the early 1850s a group of Hingham ladies banded together and, via fundraisers, built a hall for the town’s entertainment and meeting needs. That hall still stands in downtown Hingham today, where since 1936, it has been a local favorite for seeing a new movie. Loring Hall Theatre plays one film at a time, but stays up to date on new releases. And while it boasts all the modern needs in sound and picture, it has not lost its historic appeal. Get there early and snag a spot in the balcony. Afterward, grab a bite at nearby Stars for simple but great food. For more pop culture, head up the road to Wahlburgers. (Loring Hall Theatre, 65 Main St, Hingham; 781-749-1307)

Premiere experience: Coolidge Corner Theatre, one of the few nonprofit movie theaters in Greater Boston, has historic charm and the stories to go with it. Built as a church in 1906, it has been a movie theater since 1933, never missing a day of showings since. The Coolidge has plenty of screens and always has the newest and best films showing. But it also throws in some classics to sweeten the pot. On any given week, you might find flicks such as “Blazing Saddles” (so much better on the big screen). It has a bit of celebrity appeal, too. Recently, the stars of “Black Mass” and “Spotlight” all walked the red carpet for premieres there. Afterward, grab a bite across the street at Zaftigs. (Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-734-2501)

Beat the crowds and the traffic for a nominee film: Because you can see one at Plimoth Plantation. That’s right, one of the nation’s most beloved living history museums transforms into a cozy, easily accessible and lovely movie house at night, all year-round, seven days a week. The theater, inside the museum’s visitor center, also hosts special events, classic films and art films on a regular basis. Just off Exit 4 in Plymouth, it’s a chance to see a top film (“Spotlight” is playing there now) in a unique location. Afterward, nosh at Rye Tavern, just down the road and set in a quaint and classic New England farmhouse. (Plimoth Plantation, 137 Warren Ave, Plymouth; 508-746-1622; www.plimoth.org/features/cinema)

Catch a classic: The Brattle Theatre’s goal is to celebrate film, and what you’ll find showing there on any given day harks back to films that truly matter — ones that often have an impact on those vying for Oscars today. No matter which classic film you are able to see there, the setting is beautiful. Classic architecture in the heart of Cambridge makes it worth a visit in itself. Oh, and you can rent the entire place out for your own movie party. Now that’s a film escape. Go to www.brattlefilm.org for film times and more. (Brattle Theatre, ­ 40 Brattle St., Cambridge; 617-876-6837)

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‘The Finest Hours’: 20 Things to Know about the Coast Guard’s Greatest Small Boat Rescue

By Perri Nemiroff
Collider
January 13, 2016

the-finest-hours-slice-600x200

The crew of the CG36500 that went out to rescue the stranded men aboard the SS Pendleton in the middle of a vicious nor’easter may be humble and have zero interest in boasting about their accomplishment, but on January 29th, we’re going to celebrate their bravery on the big screen in Craig Gillespie’s adaptation of the Casey Sherman book, The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue.

The movie will cover what went down on the SS Pendleton after the tanker split in two in the middle of the storm, but during my visit to set back in November 2014, we focused primarily on the crew of the lifeboat that agreed to embark on what seemed like a suicide mission in order to rescue them. Chris Pine leads the film as Bernie Webber, the captain and driver of the CG36500, and he’s joined by novice engine man Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner), an inexperienced guy on lightship duty named Ervin Maske (John Magaro), and Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), the more seasoned member of the crew who wasn’t thrilled about risking his life with a bunch of third-stringers.

While on the Boston set, we got the chance to watch Pine, Foster and Magaro brave some serious wind and rain while the CG36500 rocked around on a gimbal, tour select sets and chat with Pine, Foster, Magaro, Gallner, Gillespie and producers Dorothy Aufiero and Jim Whittaker during roundtable interviews. Check out some of the highlights below:

Aufiero was pitched the project in a parking lot. the-finest-hours-poster-406x600She began, “I was looking at another project that actually is a book that Casey Sherman had done. I had been pitched this project and I was in a meeting to just meet the author. I determined it really wasn’t the story that I was interested in making.” She thought that was that but Sherman wasn’t letting her off the hook that easy. “I was saying my goodbyes and leaving the building and Casey started following me and he said, ‘Can I see you for a minute? Do you mind if I walk you out?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s alright.’ So we went to the parking lot and I was getting close to my car and he whipped out the book The Finest Hours and he said, ‘I have your next big thing.’” She laughed and recalled, “I’m looking at the cover and there’s this tanker sinking and I’m thinking, ‘This is not anything I’m remotely interested in.’ So I said that I’d look at it and he said, ‘I think that it’s Disney.’ So I drove home and later in the afternoon I was flipping through it and I really was completely blown away by the story.”

The Finest Hours actually is in Disney’s wheelhouse. Here’s how Foster put it; “This isn’t going to be Lone Survivor 2. I think it’s really brave and exciting that Disney’s doing it, but it also feels very much in their wheelhouse from way back when. It feels like a callback to a grander time of, in my opinion, of films that I feel more connected to, the 30s and 40s.” He added, “It’s more about a type of men who don’t go home and tell the town how great they are.”

The heroes of this story are actually the B team. Whitaker explained how the crew of the CG36500 came together; “The first boat goes down, so all of the A-team gets sent out. They’re the underdogs because they’re left over really and they’re the ones that are left behind, right? Because they were put in this position where they had to go out on what was effectively a suicide mission, not everybody really wanted to raise their hand. The ones that did were like Andy Fitzgerald who was a third class engineer man who only went because Mel Gouthro, who was ahead of him as an engineer man, was sick. So Andy ended up signing up and then Maske ended up walking through the door and he just said, ‘Hey, I’ll go too.’ And then Livesey was the third one and Livesey, who Ben Foster plays, was not all that happy about not being chosen on the first team. So he’s a pretty capable guy who is left to be chosen and put together with a group of guys who he knows are lesser in his rank and ability. And that also causes tension with Bernie.”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


The simplicity of Bernie is what appealed most to Pine. He noted, “There’s a great recording of Bernie talking to an interviewer years and years ago about the rescue and I guess, above and beyond the heroism of it, you can kind of get the sense that he’s sick of retelling the story, you know? That, for him, this was his job, this was what he was supposed to do and just like anyone clocking in for a job, his task was going out and saving people, and a real sense that there was no glory in it for him or any need for self-aggrandizement. It was just very simple.” Gillespie also added, “Bernie’s really an unusual underdog. He’s one of those antiheroes, the reluctant guy, the last person you’d expect to be that fellow.”

Ervin Maske had no experience, but he went out on the lifeboat anyway. Magaro further explained, “He was a Coastguard guy. He was actually from Wisconsin so he wasn’t from New England. He just happened to be passing through that night in February. He was on lightship duty, which back then was basically like a lighthouse out on the water, before all the modern technology did away with that.” He continued, “So he was living in New York at the time with his wife, who he had just married, and he’s coming back from leave. He stopped by the Chatham Station. They told him to wait there during the storm and they needed someone else to go out there on the lifeboat and he volunteered. He went out there with them. He had no experience, he had never done it before, he really didn’t know what he was getting into, but he did his duty that night.”

Andy Fitzgerald jumped at the opportunity to join the team. Gallner began by telling us a little bit about Fitzgerald; “He’s an engine man. He works on the engine. He was kind of a third-string type of guy where nobody really asked him to go out.” He continued, “The other guy that Bernie usually takes out was sick and so Andy sort of jumped in and took his place. In real life, Andy was just, he was really bored. [Laughs] He was sitting at the station, just been sitting around all day and just was so bored that when he found out they were going out and he knew the other guy was sick, he pretty much forced himself on Bernie.”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


Gallner actually had to sing during his audition. He laughed and explained, “It’s like the last thing you want to come across your desk is like, ‘I gotta sing? Like, by myself?’ There’slike a sea shanty thing where my character kind of – they’re going into the storm and it’s really scary and he starts kind of just singing to himself and then the other guys kind of pick up on it.”

Gallner was the only one who got to meet his real life counterpart. Here’s what he told us about the real Andy Fitzgerald: “He’s great. He’s a really funny guy, actually. He’s a really nice guy. The craziest thing about talking to Andy and meeting Andy was, when you talk to these guys, they don’t glorify this story at all, and you sit here and you hear about this story and you know how amazing it is what these guys did and kind of how crazy it was that they went out and did this, and yet these guys are telling it like it’s nothing.
They didn’t glorify it. I don’t think Andy’s wife even knew that he had done this until they were married for like three years.”

Ervin Maske passed away, but Magaro did get the opportunity to meet his family. “We had dinner the other night.” He continued, “They talked about how openhearted he was and how he volunteered in his community [when] he came home. He was very modest about it. He never talked about it, but he was always willing to lend a hand around the community and he was known for that in Wisconsin. And I think that played into why he went out there that night. He didn’t have to go out there. He just showed up. He could have easily said, ‘This isn’t my job. I’m not gonna do this.’ But he had that kind of, I don’t know if anyone here’s from the Midwest, but I grew up in Cleveland and I think there’s this Midwestern kind of generosity and warmth, and that you just do what you’re supposed to do.”

Foster, however, didn’t have much to work with in that respect. When asked about his interpretation of Richard Livesey, Foster explained, “There’s no audio on the man, there’s no video on the man.” He added, “This is portraiture work.”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


In reality, two tankers split in half during the storm, but the film will only focus on one. The true story involved the SS Pendleton and the SS Fort Mercer, a second T2 tanker that also happened to break in half. However, Whitaker and his team decided to keep the focus on the Pendleton. Here’s why: “The 36500 was really the defining rescue, you know? And the great thing about the story is that it starts with one beat, which is, ‘Oh, there’s been a tanker that’s been lost,’ and then the other shoe drops because of the other tanker and it leaves only kind of like the third team to come. So it sort of sets itself up in this great dramatic structure, so we never really thought about it, to be honest.”

Why did the boats split in half to begin with? Whitaker explained, “They called them Kaiser’s Coffins because they were made out of this weaker steel and they did on occasion break. The night of this event was actually an occasion where two of them effectively broke in one storm because the storm was so savage.”

Boston was the ideal shooting location. Whitaker recalled, “We came here right from the very beginning. We wanted it to happen here because even though we’re in this building for 50 plus days and we’re shooting the movie here in terms of a lot of the ocean parts of it, next week we go out onto location and that location takes us ultimately to Chatham, which is where it all happened.”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


They found a key location using Google Earth. Whitaker began, “When it came to this building, we investigated the building to build in it and so forth, and then [unit production manager Doug Merrifield] happened to be Google Earth-ing it right from above and just figuring out the environments and he was like, ‘That’s really weird. It looks like there’s a large boat over in a channel over there. This doesn’t make any sense. What is this?’ And what he realized was that the USS Salem was nearby.” He continued, “Basically, we were able to combine elements of the USS Salem in our production design within it and the two sort of fit nicely so effectively, we’re gonna be able to transfer our movie from parts of this set into the USS Salem and back out.” In the film, the USS Salem stands in for hallways of the Pendleton and they were able to take about 70 doors from the Salem and incorporate them in the engine room and mess hall they built. Whitaker explained, “To be clear, the ship was not in public operating order so we were able to do it because it wasn’t being used. So it wasn’t like people were walking by like, ‘Where’s our door?’ No, the ship is under renovation, so he was like, ‘Well, if we’re renovating, we’ll give you the doors on borrow.’ It was a rental.”

The production design team also managed to track down loads of authentic boat parts. Whitaker told us to look out for details on set because “when you walk on the sets, you’ll see little name plates or things that say Navy X150321. It’s authentically from it. T2 tankers are difficult to find and they found a T2 tanker that had been put into salvage and they went down there and basically got into the bowels of it, pulled all the pieces of the tanker out and shipped it up here so we could put it into all of our sets to make the engine room, the inside of the emergency tiller station and all of that as authentic and real as possible.”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


This was a particularly tough shoot. Foster began, “The difficult element with this is just eating shit all day. I mean, that’s the truth of it. Excuse my language, but just getting punished by cold, wet rather than you have to run up a thing or do a thing or fall off a thing or go through a thing or drive a thing. This is just take it.” Magaro added, “This stuff is very technical. We’re kind of just taking the ride for these CG shots that they’re gonna build around us. Luckily we don’t have to do much acting because they’re throwing a ton of water on us and we’re being jostled around by the machine so it takes a lot of burden off the actors and you just sort of hang on for dear life, hold your breath and try and make it through the waves.”

There was some trial and error when trying to figure out how to keep warm. Here’s how Magaro broke it down: “We started off with wetsuits underneath, and then we were wearing all of our clothes underneath. Then we learned that that was a battle we weren’t going to win.” After that, they switched to dry suits. “These dry suits from our Marines on this job, they have dry suits, which keep your body dry. You still get a little cold, but at least you’re not soaking wet.”

Fortunately Foster kept everyone in good spirits by acting as the on-set DJ. He explained, “Well, we’re on a boat and we’re cold and wet, and we’re not allowed to complain because we’re not saving any lives.” He continued, “It seemed to make sense, so I got a little speaker, it’s waterproof. We’ve been on a kind of classic rock to 70s funk/soul recently so it’s nice to see a bunch of grumpy wet guys start bobbing their heads, you know?”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


There are also a number of key characters aboard the Pendelton as well. Whitaker gave us the line-up:

“Obviously there’s Casey Affleck, who’s great and has this wonderful character that lives in the engine room, and in living in the engine room has to kind of emerge ultimately in a heroic
way by coming up on deck and kind of seizing certain control of the Pendleton.”

“Michael Raymond James plays this antagonist and is very good.”

“There’s John Ortiz who is excellent.”

“Keiynan [Lonsdale] is terrific. He’s kind of a shy assistant to the cook played by Abe Ben Rubi.”

“Abe is a kind of larger-than-life character. He’s the heart and soul of the Pendleton itself.”

“Josh Stewart is great, too. He plays Tchuda Southerland. The only person that can really understand Tchuda is Casey on the boat because he’s of Cajun descent so his language is a little bit
hard to get, and so there’s a translation thing that goes on that’s very funny.”

Graham McTavish plays Fauteux. “They call him sort of the Jonah. He had been on several boats prior to coming on the Pendleton that had almost met their demise, so everybody on the ship kind of looks at him a little bit, ‘What are you doing on this ship?’ And when he starts to take control, they’re like, ‘You’re the guy who’s not had a lot of luck in this category. We’re not gonna listen to you too much.’”

Image via Disney

Image via Disney


There’s also a strong female lead in the film. Whitaker noted, “There’s one very strong female presence, which is Holliday Grainger, who plays Miriam. At a certain point in our development, we realized the movie was a rescue story and it was about Bernie going on this rescue and coming to a place of sort of getting through it and coming to the other side, but on shore, it’s the story of a woman who’s eager to be married, but not yet there. [She] has to discover on land what it would be like to be married to a guy who spends his life on the sea, putting his life at risk. In a way, it’s a movie about a rescue, but it’s also a movie about a marriage.”

FILMING

The set was inside an enormous shipyard where there was loads of space for shooting and staging, but the section we concentrated on was a 36-foot wooden boat called the CG36500. It was sitting on a gimbal about 20-feet high with a massive ramp positioned directly in front of it.

Our visit began with a shot of Pine, Foster and Magaro behind the windshield. The fans kicked in, water started to blow into frame, the boat began to rock and then shortly after action was called, the boat was absolutely pummeled by water via that gigantic ramp. Just imagine what it might be like to be standing right at the bottom of an enormous waterslide pumping out tons of water. It’s probably more intense than that.

Next up was a shot of Magaro at the head of the ship. Apparently there’s some sort of passageway underneath the deck of the boat that allows his character to move from the back to the front quickly. The shot began from overhead and then came down around the left side just as the boat did a 45-degree turn downward, making the movement look especially dramatic. There was no massive wave in this shot so in between takes, Magaro would give his face a quick spritz with a spray bottle to keep up the effect.
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Image via Disney

Image via Disney


TOURING THE SET

Before heading out for the day, we got the opportunity to tour the Pendleton’s engine roomThe crew was in the process of striking the set, so it certainly wasn’t camera ready, but the large majority of it was intact and looked wildly authentic. It was a small square space with a few stories to it that had exactly what you might expect to find in a tanker engine room including loads of machines, pumps and tanks.

We also got a quick peek at another idle set – an enormous water tank with the CG36500 floating in it alongside the stern of the Pendleton.

CONCLUSION

They’re completely different stories, but many were busy comparing The Finest Hours to In the Heart of the Sea, and considering they’re both stranded at sea stories and they’re hitting theaters one after the other, it’s hard not to. Plus, oddly enough, a handful of the journalists on this set were also on the In the Heart of the Sea set visit.

Having read both books, The Finest Hours definitely could have gone the In the Heart of the Sea route and taken a darker, more serious approach to the source material. The filmmakers here are definitely gunning for thrills and suspense, but they also seem to be embracing the heroism and the whole “we’re just doing our job” thing, which could make for an especially heartwarming and rousing ending – something that In the Heart of the Sea was lacking.

Want more from my The Finest Hours set visit? Check out the links below:
Chris Pine on How ‘The Finest Hours’ Is Like a Studio Film from the 50s
‘The Finest Hours’ Set Visit: Craig Gillespie on Directing His Cast from 75 Feet Away
Ben Foster on Why Shooting ‘The Finest Hours’ Was Tougher than ‘Lone Survivor’

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Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall feel each other out in first Tumbledown trailer

By Will Robinson
Entertainment Weekly
January 7, 2016

The big-city type isn’t usually cut out for rural life. But Andrew will endure it in Tumbledown in order to secure permission from Hannah to write about her late husband, a folk singer.

The twist on characters in the rom-com canon is what drew Sudeikis to the script.

“They’re strange bedfellows who kind of have to get through their s–t as individuals to sort of deal with it and be in the best place for one another. They’ve been through a lot, and they’re just both sort of healing from different wounds,” Sudeikis told EW after the film’s Tribeca Film Festival premiere.

“I also liked how my character was unapologetic in his brashness and being abrasive and not being too much of a salesman. I mean, right off the bat, they’re sort of insulting each other, and that felt kind of old-school to me, you know, like His Girl Friday or something.”

See the trailer above. Tumbledown, also starring Dianna Agron, Joe Manganiello, and Blythe Danner, bows Feb. 5 in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide and iTunes on Feb. 12.

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WATCH: Tumbledown Official Trailer (In theaters February 12th)

Massachusetts made TUMBLEDOWN was filmed in Ayer, Concord, Devens, Groton, Princeton, Shirley, Westford, Westminster and Worcester in 2014.

IN THEATERS FEBRUARY 12TH

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‘Finest Hours’ Co-Author Talks Movie Adaptation, New England Storytelling

CBS Boston
January 6, 2016

BOSTON (CBS) — Casey Sherman, co-author of the 2009 best-seller “The Finest Hours,” spent a lot of time on-set while his book was being made into a Disney film. But the author (and former WBZ-TV producer) said the best moment was being there when one of the original heroes depicted in the film visit the set for the first time, and watching him take it all in.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the studio that day,” Sherman said.

“The Finest Hours” tells the story of four young Coast Guardsmen on a daring rescue mission off of Chatham during a deadly nor’easter in the winter of 1952. Part of it was filmed at the Chatham Coast Guard Station. It takes place before technology enhanced seamanship, and Sherman said the rescue was seen as a suicide mission.

“The unwritten motto of the coast guard back then was, ‘you have to go out, but you don’t have to come back,’ but these men performed the rescue of a lifetime,” said Sherman. “Very simply, it’s a story about faith.”

Actor Chris Pine of “The Finest Hours” and President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey took part in a presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO August 15, 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Actor Chris Pine of “The Finest Hours” and President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey took part in a presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO August 15, 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)


Sherman said it’s also a quintessential New England story.

“‘The Finest Hours’ is a valentine to how we grew up in New England, and how we live here in New England,” Sherman said. “Because we all understand the debt that the sea must take, but we also understand the bounty that the sea brings us, so there’s that yin and yang in the relationship.”

The fact that the filmmakers had also adapted another New England story–“The Fighter,” the story of boxer Mickey Ward’s life, starring Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg–made Sherman more at ease about them adapting “The Finest Hours.” He said many of the people working on the film were from New England, and felt the responsibility to tell the story the right way.

But back when Sherman and co-author Mike Tougais spoke with some of the men who were part of the rescue for their book, they found out that their story was mostly unknown.

“We were able to find three of the four heroes that performed this rescue, and these men never wanted this story told,” said Sherman. “They actually never told their wives, never told their families what they had gone through back then. When we wrote it and then they read it, they teared up when they were talking to us and they said, ‘there is a story here,’ and we told these heroes, we said, ‘you are the story.’ And to be able to tell that story now, in 80 countries around the world, is such a treasure.”

“The Finest Hours” is out in theaters January 29, and stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and Eric Bana.

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America at its blooming best

By Sarah Baxter
The Daily Mail on Sunday
December 12, 2015

America at its blooming best: Massachusetts boasts star-studded filming locations but the gardens are the east coast state’s real attraction

• The east coast state is home to America’s oldest horticultural institution
• Many places in Massachusetts takes pride in their gardens and parks
• A naturally perfumed Shelburne’s Bridge of Flowers is not to be missed

‘I think this is Kansas,’ Mary remarked – despite standing in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Turning from the all-American main street, with its galleries, boutiques and drug-store soda fountain, I glanced at her, dubiously.

But the town’s head of tourism hadn’t taken a funny turn; rather, the town had.

Massachusetts is popular as a filming location for Hollywood films, including Labour Day and The Judge

Massachusetts is popular as a filming location for Hollywood films, including Labour Day and The Judge

The east coast state is famed for its fine fall foliage and is home to America's oldest horticultural institution

The east coast state is famed for its fine fall foliage and is home to America’s oldest horticultural institution

‘When Kate Winslet was here filming Labour Day, I think Shelburne was ‘relocated’ to the mid-west,’ Mary explained.

Hollywood clearly loves this place: as we spoke, a film crew was dismantling evidence of Robert Downey Jr’s movie, The Judge, in which Shelburne played ‘Carlinville’, Indiana.

However, Downey wasn’t the star I’d come here to see. I was in Massachusetts, a state famed for its fine fall foliage, to see if its many gardens are worth visiting year-round.
Shelburne’s Bridge of Flowers was top of my list.

In 1929, after the trolley-car stopped running across this five-arch span, a local couple decided to turn it into a floral fantasia.

Since then, the local Women’s Club has continued to plant the bridge with hundreds of annuals and perennials, ensuring it stays resplendent from spring to the first frosts.

I wandered across amid the bright bursts of pansy and delphinium, my nose assaulted by heliotrope and rose. A good start.

3

Since then, the local Women's Club has continued to plant the bridge with hundreds of annuals and perennials, ensuring it stays resplendent from spring to the first frosts

Since then, the local Women’s Club has continued to plant the bridge with hundreds of annuals and perennials, ensuring it stays resplendent from spring to the first frosts

Unsurprisingly, in a state that boasts many of America’s ‘earliests’ – first college, first park, first subway – Massachusetts is home to the USA’s oldest horticultural institution.

After the Industrial Revolution, concerns grew that New Englanders were losing touch with their rural roots. The result: a state dappled with glorious green spaces.

The Garden In The Woods, just west of Boston, provided an enchanting overview.

Begun in 1931, it’s now HQ of the New England Wild Flower Society (NEWFS), and a luscious hidey hole of mainly native plants: mountain laurels, trilliums, maiden-hair ferns (used in basket-making), carnivorous pitchers.

At Tower Hill Botanic Garden (pictured), near Worcester, species are planted with their evolutionary relatives

At Tower Hill Botanic Garden (pictured), near Worcester, species are planted with their evolutionary relatives

Even if you’re a garden greenhorn, its winding trails, pond full of snapping turtles and general leafy profusion are a delight.

Plus all the species are labelled to give novices (like me) a horticultural primer.
However, as the NEWFS manual lists 3,500 species across the region, I had much to learn. Undeterred, I took my basic botany onwards.

At Tower Hill Botanic Garden, near Worcester, I fell for the flowering dogwoods and genned up on horticultural history in the Systematic Garden, where species are planted with their evolutionary relatives.

At the fascinating Hancock Shaker Village, I delved into the practicality of plants: for Shakers, everything must be useful, so veg patches, medicinal herbs and a flax-filled textile plot ruled the land.

At the fascinating Hancock Shaker Village, everything must be useful, so veg patches, medicinal herbs and a flax-filled textile plot ruled the land

At the fascinating Hancock Shaker Village, everything must be useful, so veg patches, medicinal herbs and a flax-filled textile plot ruled the land

At The Mount, Edith Wharton’s retreat in the Berkshire hills, I saw plants at their most architectural.

The writer was a keen landscaper, and envisaged her grounds as a series of outdoor rooms.

The result, after a £2million restoration, is an elegant sectioning of topiaried terraces, a lime walk and walled Italianate area, merging into the Massachusetts wilds.

Fellow writer Julian Fellowes is a huge Wharton fan.

He once visited The Mount and was asked if he’d ever write it into his Downton Abbey series.

He didn’t say no. Maybe he’ll set his next, post-Downton series here?

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Boston Movies Throughout the Years

By Ty Burr
Boston Globe
December 12, 2015

The Boston Globe’s Ty Burr takes a look at movies in Boston through the years.

ty burr piece

Click on the image for the full video.

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Ben Affleck brings Hub back to its roots

By Gayle Fee
Boston Herald
November 22, 2015

Ben Affleck as seen through a camera viewfinder shooting a scene on Margaret street in the north end (photo by Jen Royle)

Ben Affleck as seen through a camera viewfinder shooting a scene on Margaret street in the north end (photo by Jen Royle)


Boston is getting a throwback makeover courtesy of Ben Affleck and the “Live By Night” crew who blew into the North End on Friday and turned Margaret Street into a bustling 1920s-era neighborhood and is gettting ready to return the Boston Park Plaza hotel to its roots as The Statler Hotel for a shoot-out scene.

“It was awesome,” said North End resident Jen Royle, who watched Affleck taping from the window of her mother’s house at the corner of Margaret and Prince streets.

The neighborhood had been transformed by Hollywood’s set magicians with vintage signs, antique cars, a horse and buggy and a bevy of extras in Prohibition-era costumes.

“There were kids running up and down the street, a shoe-shine guy, people sitting on stoops and old cars,” Royle said.
Storefronts had been remade into a locksmith, tailor and violin shops and there were clotheslines draped across the alley with shirts hanging out to dry.

All of which was done for one brief moment on camera.

“Ben walked down the street and handed a guy some money like he was secretly tipping him,” Royle said. “Then he goes to the door of a building that was made to look like a bar, a guy frisks him and he walks inside.”

Affleck, who is starring as Joe Coughin, the son of a Boston cop who goes rogue and turns bootlegger, is also directing. So after each take he would walk back over to the camera and check the scene.

“He was all business,” Royle said. “At one point when he was looking in the camera he said, ‘Wow, the neighborhood looks amazing.’ He seemed to be really enamored by the way Margaret Street looked. And it was pretty remarkable what they did.”

Ben, who was wearing a brown fedora, a vintage suit and overcoat for the scene, called it a wrap around mid-afternoon, then he headed over to shoot a love scene at the Paul Revere statue. In that one, Affleck and his co-star Sienna Miller, who plays the bad-girl object of Coughlin’s affection, Emma Gould, make out on the street for a bit.

“They did it about four or five times,” said another rubbernecker. “Then it was over. There was a huge crowd watching, but they cleared them out when they started shooting. Then people started climbing over fences trying to take pictures.”

Hopefully Miller, who played Johnny Depp’s galpal Catherine Greig in the Whitey Bulger flick “Black Mass” and was then left on the cutting room floor, makes the final cut in this made-in-Boston flick!

Affleck & Co. are due to shoot a few more scenes in Boston, including one at the Park Plaza hotel — which was born as The Statler in 1927. Ben’s character is involved in a shootout there, which lands him in prison and eventually to his departure from Boston for Florida.

“Live By Night” is based on the 2012 novel by Dorchester noir master Dennis Lehane. It is the second Lehane book Affleck has brought to the big screen. He made his directorial debut with “Gone Baby Gone” in 2007.

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Sneak peek: The Rock lifts Kevin Hart in ‘Central Intelligence’

By Bryan Alexander
USA TODAY
November 18, 2015

It’s impossible to miss the massive size difference between Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (who is 6-foot-5, 265 pounds) and Kevin Hart (5-foot-4, 145 pounds) in photos from their upcoming comedy Central Intelligence.

Kevin Hart is an easy armful for Dwayne Johnson in 'Central Intelligence'  (Photo: Claire Folger)

Kevin Hart is an easy armful for Dwayne Johnson in ‘Central Intelligence’
(Photo: Claire Folger)

Johnson knew the physical pairing would bring automatic laughs.

“With the visual alone, we had a shot at grabbing people,” says Johnson. “That visual is sizzle. And now we have deliver the steak.”

That hunk of meat flips the traditional roles of smart-mouthed comic Hart and action star Johnson. Central Intelligence (in theaters June 17, 2016) features Hart as the stiff straight man and Johnson essentially carrying the comedic aspects. Even Hart says he was surprised when the concept was floated.

“I was like, ‘Stop playing with me. DJ is going to be doing all the comedy? Really?’ But I said, ‘All right, can I talk to him?’ ” says Hart. “When I heard his take on it, it was a no-brainer. I said that we had to do it.”

The comedy follows Bob (Johnson), who grew up being bullied as a nerdy, overweight kid but eventually blossomed physically and became a lethal CIA agent. Going to his 20th high school reunion, Bob runs into Calvin (Hart), a strait-laced accountant who had previously reigned as big man on campus.

When criminals try to frame Bob, he enlists the supremely reluctant Calvin to assist in a secret government mission to clear his name. Naturally, it puts the two directly into the line of fire, with Hart fussing and Johnson crushing.

For Hart, playing the popular kid at school was the natural part. “That was like playing myself back then, minus the good grades. I was a C-minus student, I can admit that.”

Dwayne Johnson (back) gets to be the funny one to Kevin Hart's straight man in 'Central Intelligence.' (Photo: Claire Folger)

Dwayne Johnson (back) gets to be the funny one to Kevin Hart’s straight man in ‘Central Intelligence.’ (Photo: Claire Folger)

The difficult part was playing the humorless accountant. But each day on the Boston set this summer, Hart would put on slacks, button up his shirt and put a sweater on over that. Even harder was letting Johnson pump the comedy in each scene.

“There were moments I had to pull back when I wanted to be funny. But it wasn’t my role in this film. That was his role,” says Hart. “It’s expanding the acting portfolio I am trying to build.”

Director Rawson Marshall Thurber brought in Vine dancing sensation Sione Kelepi to portray Johnson as an exuberant high schooler grooving in the shower for a memorable scene. Johnson had to learn Kelepi’s dance moves and his face was placed on Kelepi’s body through Weta Digital effects.

Hart has nothing but praise for Johnson’s sizable comedy chops. No special effects were needed for the numerous times Johnson had to lift Hart in gags.

“Lifting Kevin Hart, it’s like lifting a beautiful woman,” says Johnson. “Only, of course, it’s not a beautiful woman.”

“He’s as big as you’d think he is, and he did a great job pulling the comedy off, making it believable,” Hart adds. “But it’s not like I’m going to be taking him on the road with me.”

Dwayne Johnson's fanny pack makes an appearance opposite Kevin Hart in 'Central Intelligence.' (Photo: Claire Folger)

Dwayne Johnson’s fanny pack makes an appearance opposite Kevin Hart in ‘Central Intelligence.’ (Photo: Claire Folger)

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Chris Pine on ‘The Finest Hours’, the U.S. Coast Guard, and More

By Sheila Roberts
Collider
November 18, 2015

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Collider was recently invited to screen preview footage for Disney’s upcoming The Finest Hours directed by Craig Gillespie and to chat with the film’s star, Chris Pine. The action-thriller depicts the heroic 1952 rescue attempt by Coast Guard coxswain Bernie Webber (Pine) and his three-man crew off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers bound for Boston are split in two by a massive nor’easter leaving their crews stranded at sea. The rescuers faced 70-foot waves, hurricane-force winds, frigid temperatures and zero visibility in their 36-foot motor lifeboat in one of the greatest small boat rescue operations in U.S. Coast Guard history.

the-finest-hours-posterThe first sequence introduced us to the men of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Chatham, Massachusetts where Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) orders Webber to assemble a crew and set off on a perilous mission to save 33 sailors from the stricken SS Pendleton. Webber’s budding romance with his future wife, Miriam, (Holliday Grainger) is also revealed. The second sequence focused on chief engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), the senior officer aboard the stern of the Pendleton, who must keep the ship afloat after it’s ripped in half. The footage features interesting character development, exceptional lead and supporting performances, and impressive production values. The larger-than-life action sequences are visceral, visually thrilling, and anchored by a strong emotional core that hinges on the strength of the human spirit. The Finest Hours arrives in IMAX 3D January 29th which is perfect for the epic scale and immersive nature of this high stakes true story.

In our roundtable interview, Pine talked about his reaction when he first read the script, what drew him to the story and his character, the appeal of that era, his research and preparation to portray Webber, how this role was in stark contrast to the characters he usually plays, the challenges of filming on the water off the coast of Massachusetts and on a tank on gimbals with water and wind machines at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, how it was a moving experience to meet Coast Guard engineers Andy Fitzgerald and Mel Gouthro who were closely involved with the actual rescue mission, and why he was honored to pay tribute to these heroes. Check it all out in the interview below:

When you first heard about this story of the SS Pendleton, what did you think? What made you want to be in this film and was there any pressure in playing a real person?

(Image via Disney)

(Image via Disney)

CHRIS PINE: I simply read the script. The script reminded me in many ways of a film I did called Unstoppable which starts and pretty immediately you get involved in essentially a rollercoaster ride of human endurance. It was just a quick, wonderful, dramatic read. The ocean I find is very daunting, frightening, mysterious, and powerful. That intrigued me. I knew Ben Foster was going to be involved potentially and I loved the idea of working with Ben. I love that time period. There’s something that resonates deeply with me for whatever reason of that time in the world in the mid-20th century. These were men that had not fought in World War II. I know for Bernie Webber, the character I played, that was something in the back of his head, having heard all the stories, having had brothers fight in the war, and hearing stories of all their bravery and heroism, and wanting to do something similar, and having the desire to serve in that way. That was all very important to me.

Is the real Bernie Webber still alive?

PINE: Bernie Webber passed away in 2009. Andy Fitzgerald is still around. Mel Gouthro, who didn’t make it on the boat that day, is still around. He was Bernie’s best friend. Bernie was around the water all his life. There’s some recordings of Bernie talking about it. What I loved about these guys, especially in that age, is there’s such a stark difference from the world in which we live in, which is seemingly all about self-aggrandizement and the selfie culture. This was a time when these gentlemen showed up to work, they clocked in, they did their job, and they went home. They would have wanted and preferred not to talk about it. It just happened and that’s what they did really honestly. You can tell that from this recording, this interview, that Bernie did. He’s recounting the events, and I sensed in it this feeling of just what a pain in the ass it was to talk about it again, to recount it one more time. He wasn’t putting any color or spin on it. He was just recounting the events. I really enjoyed that about these personalities that there was no desire for memorials and stuff for them. They just did what they had to do because that was their job.

What was it about your character that really resonated with you, and what were some of the challenges you faced portraying someone from a completely different era?

PINE: I enjoyed it because… you know, we’re not reinventing the wheel with this story. It’s just about honest, solid, blue collar men that go out and do great things and then go home. It was made by Disney, and there’s something so earnest and heartfelt and of another era about it. It wasn’t brooding or dark or edgy. It was just good storytelling. It felt like a studio picture. I had this vision of wanting to play him like an old movie star would play a character in a 50’s studio film about people doing great things. I got to know Bernie a little bit through his recordings, a little bit through his book. But, I really got to know him through this wonderful character that was written for me, and the character was different than anything I’d played before. This is not a reflection on Bernie. This is the character that I had read named Bernie Webber. He wasn’t the sharpest guy. He wasn’t college educated, which was something that kind of bummed him out and made him very self-conscious. He never had a chance to do great things, and the time that he had been out on the water, he’d screwed up and that had pained him greatly. He was shy, introverted, quiet, gentle, very vulnerable, and all these really sweet things that made me just love the guy. It was in stark contrast to the characters I usually play, which are much sharper, harder, stronger, and maybe sometimes a bit colder or angrier. He was just kind of an open heart. I always envisioned him as a man peeking out from the sand, looking around and seeing what was around him, always wanting a bit to hide, and not having a voice strong enough to be a leader. That was his journey in the story, that he had to become a leader. No matter how scared he was, he had to do it, because the alternative was that many, many people were going to die.

When you see Captain Kirk, the body is rigid and there’s a confidence in himself and the way he walks. But, with Bernie, you were subservient in a way. Your head was down, your shoulders were slumped, and your eyes were looking up.

PINE: Bernie makes me see him as such a gentle soul. I just thought about growing up in a family where everybody is a hero and his father never really respected him – and again, this is no reflection on the man. This is only the character that I read. It was a bit easier to do that because the clothes were so heavy. I kind of did imagine him as an eggplant. He’s not a star. He never thought of himself as handsome. He’s an everyman. I liked the idea of this guy that hadn’t found his voice. It was hard for him to speak up. It was hard for him to be confrontational. It was hard for him to ask for what he wanted. He was like the runt of the [family].

Did you understand that? It seems like you grew up a little more confident. Did you ever have those moments?

(Image via Disney)

(Image via Disney)


PINE: Anybody who’s gone through puberty has understood what it feels like to be an outcast and alone. I had horrible acne when I was a kid. I felt like a complete and utter ne’er do well and someone who didn’t fit in and wasn’t handsome. So, I understand implicitly, and with a great amount of empathy, a man or human being that feels that way. With Bernie, that deep sense of having failed somehow and not being good enough moved me a great deal.

People always talk about being on the water and how logistically challenging that can be in filmmaking. What experiences did you have in that regard?

PINE: The production did a great job of actually making it as controlled as possible. We were in Boston at the shipyards where, as far as I know, the two oil tankers that split in half, the Fort Mercer and the Pendleton, were built, or at least one of them. We were at this famous Massachusetts shipyard (Fore River Shipyard in Quincy) in these huge warehouses where they built a tank. Much of our time was spent on a tank on one of only four existing old 36-foot Coast Guard boats on gimbals with water machines and wind machines. Then, we were on another part of the stage on a huge gimbal being dunked with water via four huge water tanks. Then, we spent the last week and a half out on the coast of Massachusetts filming in the water, which was just devastatingly freezing. It was a lot of fun, and we got a taste – and when I say taste, I mean a very small amuse-bouche — of what it would be like to be out in the water. It’s just cold as all get out. In the beginning, when I got there, they shot the Pendleton stuff first. A lot of those guys were in T-shirts and wool pants. You have to imagine you’re shooting 12 or 15 hours a day in wool pants and cotton T-shirts and people were getting very close to hypothermia. They’d had to devise ways, which finally by the time we got there, they had figured out. We were actually wearing dive, seaworthy rubber bodysuits to keep the warmth in so we could survive being out in the water all day.

Most people will never have the thrill of being on a gimbal doing all those incredible stunts. Is it euphoric? Is it quirky? What is that experience like?

PINE: No, it’s just work. You’re never, thank god, hopefully, in true danger. You make believe danger. I guess it’s kind of fun because it’s like a rollercoaster. It’s a long day, and the camera is still here, so you have to worry about your craft. It gets to be a grind, it’s very cold, and you want to bitch and moan. One day was particularly difficult for all of us, because everything had just reached a head and we had gotten off the boat for a break. The greatest kind of moment in all of that was just as I was about to start laying into the first assistant director about making sure we all get timely breaks off the boat, I look off to the side, and there’s Andy Fitzgerald, who was one of the gentlemen that was on the boat that day in 1952. Immediately, your mouth zips shut because of what they went through. I was just on the water recently off the coast of Africa and going through 25-foot waves. It was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had where you’re looking to the side of you and there are waves twice the size of your boat. You realize that the ocean doesn’t care. The ocean would eat your alive and not think twice about it. So, imagine 50-foot-waves on a wooden boat in the middle of the night in freezing cold water, in driving rain with lightening, and you have no navigational tools, and you’re carrying 36 people on a boat back to safety just by the sheer, inherent knowledge you have of the coastal waters off of Massachusetts. The level of courage is beyond belief.

You mentioned meeting some of the people who survived this incident. After you met them, did it change your approach to the character?

PINE: I met Andy Fitzgerald who was on the boat, and I met Bernie’s best friend, Mel Gouthro, who was not on the boat and was too sick to go out that day. They were great men that did a great thing. I’m in awe of anyone that’s done that. It didn’t change how I portrayed the character, but it was certainly neat to meet these guys. It’s over 60 years ago. That’s incredible. And again, like I said before, for whatever reason, I grew up watching World War II films. I love the music of that time, the fashion of that time, the aesthetic of that time, and the movies from that time. So, there’s something very moving about meeting these gentlemen who lived the narrative that I was inhabiting. Gouthro is a total goofball and I could see why Bernie would have loved having him around because he’s such a hoot and such a character. You have to imagine, too, men in their 80s that are then on the set of a film that Hollywood is making about the story they experienced so many years ago. They’ve lived an entire lifetime, more of a life than many of us will ever live. Here they are toward the end, let’s say, and they’re having these young punks try to portray them. It must have been such a trip. So, it was a great honor for me.

Was there some dramatic license taken with the story?

Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) and Tchuda Southerland (Josh Stewart) struggle to keep their ship, the SS Pendleton, from sinking in Disney's THE FINEST HOURS, the heroic action-thriller presented in Digital 3D (TM) and IMAX (c) 3D based on the extraordinary  story of the most daring rescue mission in the history of the Coast Guard.

Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) and Tchuda Southerland (Josh Stewart) struggle to keep their ship, the SS Pendleton, from sinking in Disney’s THE FINEST HOURS, the heroic action-thriller presented in Digital 3D (TM) and IMAX (c) 3D based on the extraordinary story of the most daring rescue mission in the history of the Coast Guard.

PINE: I think there were certain things. The story between Bernie and Miriam is pretty spot on. She asked him to marry her. I want to say they were already married by the time he went out, so we had to take some dramatic license, because he had to get back so they could get married. They were married their entire lives. They had children together. She was very strong and she wore the pants in many ways in the family apparently from what I’ve heard. I met her daughter and her grandkids. But, I really want to be very clear that the character that I play is taken really from the story that I was given and the character that Craig wanted to create out of Bernie. I listened to many of Bernie’s recordings to get a sense of how he spoke.

What were the recordings?

PINE: The recordings were an interview he gave in the 1960s for the Cape Cod Recorder. It was a beat by beat by beat account of how he went about it. I got a sense of the music of how he spoke. He was laconic and slow with zero embellishment and very dry. It’s not the most interesting recording of all time, but you really get a sense that the guy is just bored by telling his own story. He just wants to move on with his life. That’s what I got from it.
Did you have any opportunity to see what he looked like or how he moved?

PINE: No, not that, but I did get to see two wonderful photos of Bernie and these guys. One photo was taken right after they’d basically faced imminent death. It took them about an hour or so to get out there and an hour or so to get back in. We saw it at the Coast Guard station. There’s all the guys sitting around a table in the cafeteria having coffee and Bernie has his fly open. And there’s a great picture of them having just landed and everybody’s gotten off the boat. Bernie is the last to get off the boat, and you can see him resting his hand on the window sill above the wheel just utterly sapped of everything. You can see that it had taken everything in his power to get back. He was a round guy and his hair was cut short, as it was in the 50s, and slicked back. He had a receding hairline. He was unremarkable in the most remarkable ways. He was a dude, just a guy. He wasn’t a movie star.

It reminds me of those three guys on the Paris train – ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. It seems like we’ve lost a lot of that. In years past, the average person would step out of their comfort zone to help somebody else. Today, for whatever reason, it’s much more “me” oriented.

PINE: I don’t know if I’d necessarily agree with that. I certainly agree that we live in a culture that is very “me” oriented. That’s just a fact. I think there’s something in human nature. We’re social creatures and we surprise. As much as we want to kill one another and wipe each other off the face of the planet, there are wonderful qualities that we possess still that are humanist.

Have you ever come to someone’s rescue?

PINE: No, god no, not in the way that these guys have. I would love to say that I would, but I don’t know. That’s what those circumstances tell you, whether you have that mettle or not.

The Finest Hours opens in Digital 3D, Real D 3D, and IMAX 3D on January 29, 2016.

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“Live By Night” 1920’s Movie Decorations Go Up in North End

By NorthEndWaterfront.com
November 18, 2015

After three days of prep work, Margaret and Prince Street in Boston’s North End are starting to look like the 1920’s for Friday/Saturday’s filming of Ben Affleck’s “Live By Night” movie. Berna DiNunzio captures the old-time scene in these photographs.

We hear laundry lines are coming for a love interest scene on Cleveland Place. Also, check out Sacco and Vanzetti on the front page of the newspaper and the price of pizza below.

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Philip Frattaroli also shares the picture below showing the price of a slice has gone down dramatically in the North End!

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Ben Affleck Takes a Break from Filming Live By Night to Meet Fans and Stroll Around Town with His Mom

By Megan Johnson
People.com
November18, 2015

Ben Affleck is giving one Massachusetts town its star turn.

The Gone Girl star, 43, is currently filming the adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Live by Night in the city of Lawrence – and residents are getting quite a thrill when he pops up all over town.

Ben Affleck on the set of Live by Night (FameFlyNet)

Ben Affleck on the set of Live by Night (FameFlyNet)

Nelvi Diaz got a chance to meet the star on Monday when Affleck took a break from filming a car chase scene. Clad in Prohibition-era clothing, the actor was grabbing lunch on the set and was more than happy to take pictures with fans.

“They took a break from the scene and Ben was walking around. He came right next to us, and he put his arm around me and we took pictures,” Diaz told PEOPLE. “My husband just kept taking pictures, and Ben said ‘Okay, buddy!’ and started laughing. He was really nice about it. Other people came down and took pics with him. He was fine with it.”

With Hollywood taking over the city, the majority of Lawrence residence are very happy their town is getting some positive publicity. Natalie Perez, 24, saw Affleck filming outside the Washington Mills Lofts, and pacing around on his phone between scenes.

“I think a lot of people are happy that Lawrence is getting a lot of exposure,” said Perez.

The only downside? People weren’t able to get their caffeine fix. The film’s conversion of Essex Street into a strip of 1920s businesses had some local coffee drinkers peeved when security wouldn’t let them by to enter Dunkin Donuts. But for the most part, it’s been a very positive experience for Lawrence.

“He’s been bombarded with the town’s residents,” said Perez. “He waves, he’s really nice.”

“People are really happy they’re in the area,” Diaz agreed. “They’re asking, ‘Will property value go up?’ It was pretty positive. It’s really nice they allowed people to be there.”

Late last week, Ben was spotted strolling around Lawrence with his mother, Christine. Wrapped in a leather trench coat, scarf and knit hat, the duo took a break from the set to catch up.

Affleck has been working tirelessly on the film this fall. The production is set to head to Boston’s North End later this week, followed by South Boston the week after.

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