Massachusetts made GHOSTBUSTERS was filmed in Boston, Brookline, Easton, Everett, Norwood, Waltham, South Weymouth and Waltham in 2015. IN THEATERS THIS JULY
IN THEATERS THIS JULY
Massachusetts made GHOSTBUSTERS was filmed in Boston, Brookline, Easton, Everett, Norwood, Waltham, South Weymouth and Waltham in 2015. IN THEATERS THIS JULY
IN THEATERS THIS JULY
SAG-AFTRA New England
SAG-AFTRA Contracts: Demystified
How you can hire professional actors for your low budget project
Yes, you can afford to use professional actors in your low budget project! Shooting your project under a SAG-AFTRA Agreement has never been easier; we have a contract for every budget level. Let us walk you through the signatory process of the Short Film Agreement and the Ultra Low Budget Agreement and find out how easy it is to work with these contracts. The workshop will also highlight other simple agreements that you can sign to use professional actors in your student films and webisodes.
WHO: Filmmakers who want to work with professional actors
WHERE: Boston Center for Adult Education
122 Arlington St., Boston, MA 02116
WHEN: Thursday, May 26, 2016, 7 – 9 p.m.
WHY: This free workshop is provided as a service to educate and strengthen New England’s filmmaking community and to highlight the benefits and ease of casting professional actors.
SPACE IS LIMITED! Please RSVP to Jessica Maher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This workshop will be offered again in the year. If you are unable to attend this session, please send an email and request to be notified of the next seminar.
By Gayle Fee
March 21, 2016
When you need some scientific expertise for a movie about busting ghosts, who you gonna call? Well, MIT of course!
So when “Ghostbusters” director Paul Feig and his props peeps needed some help designing the proton packs for his all-girl gang of “Ghostbusters,” they reached out to Dr. James Maxwell, a nuclear physicist at the school for wicked smart science nerds in Cambridge.
“I geeked out and wrote a whole thesis on it,” Maxwell told the Track. “I wrote a fake abstract like a quack might give at a scientific conference to try and convince people that it is real.”
Maxwell, whose real job was studying the makeup of nucleons for reasons that are way above our pay grade, is featured on a new “Ghostbusters” website, paranormalstudieslab.com, explaining how the ghostbusting equipment could work.
“The proton pack was already designed by the prop folks and I had to assess this thing and kind of form in my own mind how a ghost-catching device would work,” he said. “So it was kind of a fun day of me sitting around thinking about how you could build one of these things on such a small scale.”
Maxwell tweaked the design to make it appear more scientifically plausible and a colleague, MIT prof Lindley Winslow, wrote up all the scientific formulas and notes that are scattered around the “Ghostbusters” lab.
Speaking of which, when Feig got a peek at Maxwell’s lab in Cambridge — which featured a very cool piece of equipment called a polarized helium 3 apparatus — he decided the “Ghostbusters” had to have one.
“So they asked me to make a fake helium polarizing apparatus and I contacted some glass blowers and borrowed some derelict equipment from MIT,” he said.
Before he knew it, Feig and even Melissa McCarthy were ringing up Maxwell to get his take on certain lines in the script that had to do with their pseudo science.
“I think they’re definitely using some of my words. It’s an honor,” he said.
Especially since, Maxwell said, the original “Ghostbusters” movie actually inspired him to become a scientist.
“When we were young, my friends and I used to play ‘Ghostbusters’ on the playground. We all had the action figures,” he said. “I became a nuclear physicist, my best friend has his Ph.D. in chemistry. It speaks to a certain degree of how important it is to have scientific role models in film, particularly female scientists. We want more women to get involved with physics.”
Which is why Maxwell thinks the Internet trolls who are down on the all-female cast — McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnonand Leslie Jones— deserved to be Slimed!
“I don’t know why people are making such a big deal of that,” he said. “Paul Feig was looking for the funniest actors and I think he found them.”
BTW, in case you were wondering, Maxwell — who now works at the Department of Energy’s Jefferson Labin Virginia — ain’t afraid of no ghost, because he doesn’t believe in them.
“No, sorry, I don’t think there are ghosts,” he said. “There’s no scientific explanation for ghosts and if there were, it wouldn’t be such a fun area for ‘Ghostbusters’ to play around in.”
By Bryanna Cappadona
March 9, 2016
From Chinatown to the Financial District.
In case you missed it, the majority of the new Ghostbusters reboot—though it takes place in New York City—was filmed in Boston.
The very first trailer for the movie, starring four lady leads, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon, came out last week. Now, a new international trailer for Ghostbusters (above) has hit the web, and if you’re any sort of Bostonian, you’ll surely recognize some signature spots from around the city.
Here, a guide to the Boston locations we found in this trailer, in chronological order.
1. Oliver Street in the Financial District (00:38)
It looks like the filmmakers did some digital remastering on Oliver Street (see below). A July 2015 report from Boston Business Journal said the movie actually closed down Oliver, Milk and Batterymarch—that whole block in the Financial District, save for Franklin Street—for a shoot.
Here, you see the Langham Hotel’s red overhangs have been changed to blue, and the parking garage was altered to be an office space with retail on the ground floor. Looks like they did keep the window graphics from Tossed, the salad spot on the corner of Milk and Oliver Street, but toned down the green color.
2. Emmanuel College’s Yawkey Center (00:47)
That door Kristen Wiig’s character approaches is outside the Yawkey Center at Emmanuel College in Fenway. The campus was set up to double as New York City’s Columbia University, according to People.com.
3. Kaze Shabu Shabu in Chinatown (00:58)
The exterior of the restaurant, on the corner of Harrison Ave and Essex Street in Chinatown (see below), was made over to be “Zhu’s Authentic Hong Kong Food.” The trailer alludes to the new Ghostbusters’ headquarters being based here.
4. Federal Street in the Financial District (01:17)
This shot also appears to have been remastered. The Ghostbusters are, uh, ghostbusting in front what appears to be Santander Bank on Federal Street (see below). It looks like the filmmakers, though, turned the Rockpoint Group building on 75-101 Federal into some other retail or business space. Here’s a liveshot of the production set up on 100 Federal Street (the base of Boston’s famous Pregnant Building) right across the street from Santander.
5. Wang Theatre in Boston’s Theatre District, Downtown (01:24)
Ghostbusters filmed a big concert scene at the Wang last July. They held an open casting call for older people who looked like metalheads to play the audience in the sequence.
6. South Weymouth Naval Air Station in Weymouth, Massachusetts (01:35)
The studio built a 35,000-square-foot soundstage (see below) on the runways of the former air naval base located 12 miles outside of Boston. It was used to construct a replica of New York City’s Times Square, which you can make out in the birdseye image below. You can also check out the stage from all angles on Google Maps here.
*That’s not one of our subway tunnels, though it looks like it (00:35)
Though this definitely resembles the inside of the Green Line tunnel with the ground-level tracks—specifically, like Boylston Street Station with the attributable curve in the route—it’s actually not. MBTA spokesperson Joe Pesaturo said the movie’s location manager certainly took a tour of Boylston Street Station, but filmmakers decided to build their own set for the subway scenes.
“Perhaps the Green Line tunnel lacks the supernatural qualities the director was probably seeking,” Pesaturo added.
By Steve Annear
March 04, 2016
Paul Feig put a lot of time and effort into designing the ghoul-blasting, apparition-capturing weapons used in the new “Ghostbusters” film set for release this summer.
In fact, the director and his team were so determined to perfect the arsenal of scientific weaponry used by the film’s characters that they enlisted the help of a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher to explain the dynamics of the complex devices.
In a video quietly released at the same time as the “Ghostbusters” movie’s first official trailer Thursday, James Maxwell, who worked as a technical adviser to filmmakers shooting in Boston last year, breaks down the science behind the “proton packs.”
“The first thing that they asked me was, ‘How would a proton pack work with as few huge leaps of miraculous science as possible?’” Maxwell says in the behind-the-scenes video, which is called “Busting Ghosts with Science.”
Maxwell goes on to explain that he looked at the proton packs featured in the 1980s “Ghostbusters” movie, and then, with a few tweaks, created an updated version. He then lists the parts of the proton packs, which include a “Synchrotron,” a cryogen system, and superconducting magnets.
“Particle accelerators are real. Superconducting magnets are real — the big leaps of faith are actually doing it in the space [of the proton packs] that’s allowed,” Maxwell says in the video.
In an e-mail Friday, Maxwell explained that he got the opportunity to work with Feig after filmmakers visited MIT’s campus.
Workers from the film’s props department, he said, toured his lab looking for inspiration for the movie.
“They took photos of a bunch of compelling equipment in the labs around MIT, and, in particular, the Laboratory for Nuclear Science,” Maxwell said. “When they showed Paul Feig the photos, he apparently pointed to my apparatus and had to have it. So I came on to replicate my MIT lab.”
At the time the new movie was made, Maxwell was a postdoctoral student at MIT’s Lab for Nuclear Science. He recently took a job at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia after spending three years conducting research at the Cambridge school.
Maxwell got to be on hand for the filming of the lab scenes, and even got to explain to that cast what his personal research was about.
“The gadget consulting came a bit later,” he said. “It was my job to explain in credible terms what each of the scientific-looking components would actually do. I had a good deal of fun with it.”
The video clip featuring Maxwell shows off Feig’s reimagined version of the classic gadgets used in the first film by the Ghostbusters team, which included characters played by Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd.
The new film features an all-female group of Ghostbusters, played by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon.
It also shows off whiteboards and pieces of paper on the film’s set that are scrawled with scientific formulas. Maxwell says in the video that the writing was done by one of his former colleagues.
A link to find the “secret” video featuring Maxwell was hidden in the writing on a whiteboard in the trailer dropped this week.
The message directs people to a website for the Paranormal Studies Lab. It’s there that detailed schematics of the proton packs, ECTO-1 car, and traps used to capture ghouls appear.
Feig told Entertainment Weekly recently he wanted to make the devices realistic — and show the new Ghostbusters creating them.
“I didn’t like the idea of them being handed technology. I wanted to see it develop — I’m such a tech head,” Feig said.
Massachusetts made GHOSTBUSTERS was filmed in Boston, Brookline, Easton, Everett, Norwood, Waltham, South Weymouth and Waltham in 2015. IN THEATERS THIS JULY
IN THEATERS THIS JULY
March 2, 2016
BOSTON (CBS) – A Massachusetts casting company is looking for extras for a Hollywood movie about the events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
Boston Casting, Inc., an Allston-based company, will be holding an open call on Sunday, March 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the upcoming movie “Patriots Day.”
Filmmakers are looking for general extras, police officers, SWAT Team members, firefighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics and marathon runners.
According to Boston Casting, filming will take place from March 29 to May 31. A release date has been set for Dec. 21 for theaters in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, before a wider release on Jan. 13, 2017.
The movie will star Dorchester native Mark Wahlberg. Oscar winner is set to play Watertown Police Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese.
Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, now a WBZ-TV security analyst, will also be a character in the film.
Filming plans for the movie caused brief controversy in Watertown. Producers planned to recreate the shootout with the Tsarnaev brothers in the Watertown neighborhood where it took place.
Not all residents agreed with the plans, and town officials said the filming would not take place in Watertown.
Patriots Day is being produced by WBZ’s sister company CBS Films.
By Kristin Toussaint
February 22, 2016
In a speech at the Athena Film Festival, she praised how the film’s characters were represented.
Ghostbusters, set for a July 15 release date, may not be the most realistic concept, but to actress Kate McKinnon, the new movie is truthful in the way it represents women — specifically, female scientists.
In a speech McKinnon gave at the Athena Film Festival, a celebration of women in the industry that took place this past week in New York City, McKinnon talked about the virtues of getting to wear “ugly jumpsuits.” She also praised her Ghostbusters director Paul Feig—who has worked with leading women through multiple directorial efforts, including Spy, The Heat, and Bridesmaids—for how he portrays women throughout the film.
Feig received the Leading Man Award, which honors someone who is a strong advocate for women onscreen and behind the scenes, according to the festival. Feig is Athena Film Festival’s first-ever male honoree.
“We filmed [Ghostbusters] in Boston over the summer, and the best part of the summer was getting to wear a jumpsuit,” McKinnon said in her speech, according to Vulture. “I wore pants the whole time and my hair was up the whole time. … It sounds like a small thing that I got to wear pants and have my hair up, but it’s actually a really big thing because we were playing scientists.”
In her speech, McKinnon also noted how monumental it was that Mattel made dolls of the Ghostbusters characters — without adding unnecessary cleavage — and how the jumpsuits will be available as girls’ Halloween costumes.
“While we were filming, Paul would sometimes release pictures of how things were going, the costumes or whatever. And we’d get a wonderful email from him whenever someone would tweet back a picture of their daughter rocking a Ghostbusters jumpsuit and a proton pack, which happened a lot,” she said. “It’s sweet and it’s cute, but it’s also actually quite new and quite huge. This morning, I Googled ‘girl’s Halloween costume,’ and I can tell you with scientific certainty that those jumpsuits will be the only girls’ Halloween costumes available this October that include pants.”
Read more of McKinnon’s speech at Vulture.
Massachusetts made CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE was filmed in Beverly, Boston, Burlington, Cambridge, Devens, Everett, Lynn, Lynnfield, Malden, Marlborough, Middleton, Quincy and Somerville in 2015. IN THEATERS THIS JUNE
IN THEATERS THIS JUNE
By Ray Kelly
February 21, 2016
The movie trailer for “Central Intelligence,” portions of which were shot at On the Hill Tavern in Somerville and other Massachusetts cities including Boston, Burlington, Lynn, Middleton and Quincy, is out.
The action comedy, due in theaters on June 17, stars Kevin Hart and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Hart plays a former high school sports star turned accountant who, on the eve of a class reunion, is contacted by a former classmate (Johnson), a once bullied “loser” who is now a CIA agent.
The film also stars Amy Ryan, Ed Helms, Danielle Nicolet and Bobby Brown.
By Joey Nolfi
February 19, 2016
A Japanese trailer for Gus Van Sant’s The Sea of Trees arrived online, offering the first extended preview of the Matthew McConaughey-starring film since the release of a short clip early last year.
Following a lengthy introduction (in Japanese) by cast member Ken Watanabe, the trailer places Oscar-winner McConaughey front and center as Arthur Brennan, an American man who travels to Japan to kill himself in the Aokigahara Forest, one of the world’s most notorious suicide destinations. While there, Arthur meets Takumi Nakamura, a Japanese man also intent on ending his own life, but the pair appears to connect as they trek over and through rough terrain while discussing matters of life and death.
“Things are not what they seem here,” Watanabe says, as the dreary wooded setting surrounds him. “This place is what you call purgatory.”
The trailer also introduces Naomi Watts as Arthur’s wife, Joan. She cradles Arthur’s head on her chest as she sits atop a hospital bed towards the end of the clip, her forehead wrapped in bandages. “There’s always that moment,” says Arthur ominously. “The big, life-changing moment that knocks us on the floor and reminds us what really matters.”
Despite a chilly reception at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, The Sea of Trees was acquired for U.S. distribution by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, though a U.S. release date has yet to be announced.
By Meredith Goldstein
February 14, 2016
Sony Pictures Entertainment has released a 30-second teaser trailer for the reboot of “Ghostbusters,” which is due out this summer. The short is basically a preview of the real trailer, which won’t be released until March 3. This teaser trailer features the skyline of New York City, but most “Ghostbusters” footage was shot in Boston last summer. The new “Ghostbusters” stars Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and this past weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” host, Melissa McCarthy..
By Devan Coggan
February 14, 2016
Back in 1989, Ghostbusters II predicted that the world would come to an end on Feb. 14, 2016. (Or as Peter Venkman says, “Valentine’s Day. Bummer.”) Well, Valentine’s Day 2016 is officially here, and while the world hasn’t ended yet, Sony has marked the occasion by releasing the first look at the upcoming Ghostbusters.
The new teaser trailer doesn’t give us a glimpse of Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy), Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), but it does show the first footage from the upcoming film, including shots of New York City and speeding police cars. So far, we’ve only seen photos of the new phantom-fighting team, as well as one of Chris Hemsworth as their secretary.
The teaser does, however, ask an all-too-familiar question and reveal the date for the first official trailer: March 3.
The new Paul Feig-directed Ghostbusters hits theaters on July 15, 2016.
By: Ben Zacuto ’19
February 5, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
By Jill Harmacinski
January 31, 2016
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.
“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.
By Pete Hammond
January 29, 2016
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.
January 25, 2016
UPDATE Amazon has acquired domestic rights for Manchester By The Sea, a deal Deadline exclusively revealed.
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.
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
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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/.
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.
By Christianne Hedtke and Kathy Lindboe
January 20, 2016
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.
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.
“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!”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On the Cusp
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.
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.