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From Scouting Waterfalls To Securing Port-A-Potties: The Life Of A Film Location Manager (AUDIO)

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From Scouting Waterfalls To Securing Port-A-Potties: The Life Of A Film Location Manager

By Andrea Shea
August 26, 2014

BOSTON — Whether it’s Fenway Park in “Fever Pitch,” the Bunker Hill Memorial in “The Town” or the Fairmont Copley Plaza in “American Hustle,” a lot of us get a kick out of seeing Boston on the big screen.

We’ve also seen Boston transformed into other places through movie-making magic. It played Paris in “The Pink Panther 2,” and Revere became Miami in the “Whitey” Bulger biopic “Black Mass” that shot here this summer.

The South Boston bar where convicted Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger had an office was re-created in Cambridge for the film “Black Mass.” (Nate Goldman/WBUR)

The South Boston bar where convicted Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger had an office was re-created in Cambridge for the film “Black Mass.” (Nate Goldman/WBUR)

It takes an army of professionals to cast, prep and secure places around Massachusetts for their turns on film, but one person plays a particularly critical role in the creative and logistical gauntlet that comes with the territory.

Location manager Charlie Harrington, a 29-year industry veteran, lives in Dennis and has found the perfect beaches and townie bars for a slew of movies made here, including “Good Will Hunting” and “Black Mass.”

Location manager Charlie Harrington. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Location manager Charlie Harrington. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Harrington acknowledges his title can seem glamorous, but he’s quick to clarify. “I have crew members come up all the time and pat me on the back going, ‘I would definitely not wanna have your job!’”

As a location manager, Harrington spends a lot of time in his car. Hours and hours tooling around with Hollywood producers and directors like Gus Van Sant or Lasse Hallstrom so they can check out locations that might work in their films. Harrington shows them examples from Boston’s pool of ubiquitous triple-deckers and taverns, along with icons like the State House or MIT.

“I’m like a real estate agent that sells real estate to designers and directors,” Harrington explained as we cruised through South Boston. Then he pulls into a parking lot next to a modest, urban house. A group of used bikes punctuates the edge of the property. The location manager has been here before.

“When I was scouting it, instead of just taking pictures I said, ‘Is it OK if I take pictures?’” he recalled.

Harrington also told the couple who lives here the name of the project and explained that if the directors chose to shoot here, they would get paid.

That was months ago. Harrington ended up coming back over the summer with a cinematographer and said, “now they make some money.”

The couple takes a break from tending their tomatoes to sign the location agreement, and Harrington tells them they’ll make $500.

We walk across the street to check out a classic, very Southie-looking barber shop. Harrington had hoped to get it into “Good Will Hunting” in the late 1990s. Gus Van Sant shot some exteriors and a few interiors in Boston, but the rest of the film was made in Toronto.

“There was no barber shop in the movie,” Harrington recalled. “But you know everybody agreed they liked it. And so finally on this movie when we were doing the second unit I drove the cinematographer by it and he said, ‘This is fantastic!’”

Location manager Charlie Harrington originally scouted this South Boston barber shop for “Good Will Hunting.” Now he’s hopeful it will make it into the final cut of “Black Mass.” (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Location manager Charlie Harrington originally scouted this South Boston barber shop for “Good Will Hunting.” Now he’s hopeful it will make it into the final cut of “Black Mass.” (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Harrington’s been working locations for nearly three decades. But not just in Boston. He’s had exotic gigs all over the world.

“Fly around the Caribbean and find the best waterfall,” he recalled. “Or one summer I just flew around the Arctic Circle, dog sledded and helicoptered everywhere, and the movie never got made. Other times it’s, uh, figuring out where people are gonna poop.”

According to Harrington, scouting locations is one thing, managing port-a-potties and parking is another. There can be 20 trucks just for crew, and they need to be near the set during a shoot. These are the kinds of logistics that make up the reality of his job.

Scouting came first, though. Harrington fell for movie-making as a teen. He recalls a fateful summer in 1974 when the cast and crew for Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” set up shop in the Martha’s Vineyard hotel where he was working as a bellhop.

“I saw the whole process,” Harrington remembered. “All the movie stars stayed in the hotel, and that’s where they edited.”

Harrington managed to get some production assistant work on “Jaws.” Inspired, he went on to study film at Boston University. A few years later he discovered he had an eye for locations.

“The first big movie I did was the ‘Witches of Eastwick,’ which I shot in Cohasset, my hometown,” Harrington recalled.

He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s because that’s where the work was. Harrington returned home in the ’90s and says things really picked up after the state film tax credits were enacted in 2007. When he starts listing off his filmography, Harrington has trouble remembering the dozens of films he’s had a hand in over the decades.

“I should probably pull up an IMDb on myself,” he said, laughing. “And this has nothing to do with me being old — it’s just this is like the 63rd movie I’m working on now.”

A scene from “Good Will Hunting” shot at Boston’s Public Gardens. (YouTube)

A scene from “Good Will Hunting” shot at Boston’s Public Gardens. (YouTube)

There’s a reason Harrington has been so busy, according to Lisa Strout, director for the Massachusetts Film Office.

“Charlie is a complete pro,” she said. “He has a really good notion of what a director is looking for.”

Strout’s main objective is to entice filmmakers to set up their productions in the state. The 25 percent film tax incentive is a major draw. When directors and producers shop for locations, Strout shows them an online image database of photogenic places around the state. But she says having a veteran location manager like Harrington helps the sale.

“People don’t realize that the scouting part is extremely creative — but the other half of it is moving the company around, finding the parking, dealing with police, fire, parks department,” she said. “Basically a location manager is the connect from the company to the real world.”

Harrington has worked consistently for Massachusetts-native Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. Sandler producer Barry Bernardi has produced six films here with Harrington, including “Grown Ups” and “Grown Ups 2.”

Massachusetts-native Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company often shoots in the state. “Grown Ups” included scenes shot at Water Wizz in Wareham. (YouTube)

Massachusetts-native Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company often shoots in the state. “Grown Ups” included scenes shot at Water Wizz in Wareham. (YouTube)

“[Harrington] has worked in Los Angeles, he has worked in numerous states in the union and is well know by many studio heads,” Bernardi said on the phone from a shoot in Toronto. Harrington, he explained, understands the medium. “He’s primarily a filmmaker, so he works very closely with the production designer and the art directors and makes sure that the location is going to satisfy.”

Massachusetts has some diverse locations to choose from, Bernardi added. The versatility — plus the film tax credit — make the state desirable for Hollywood filmmakers.

“You know you can have a great classic Cape Cod setting — set against the water either on the North Shore or down on Cape Cod,” Bernardi said. “You can have great provincial, eastern areas in the city. You can have small-town looks, you can have rural looks and you can play Boston for other locales.”

Shelburne Falls played the role of a small Indiana town for the shooting of “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey, Jr., due out this fall. (YouTube)

Shelburne Falls played the role of a small Indiana town for the shooting of “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey, Jr., due out this fall. (YouTube)

On average, Harrington says he manages 25 to 35 different locations for most films. The last one he worked on here racked up more than 100. A big part of Harrington’s job requires him to know a lot of people around the state. He is quite aware of where filmmakers are welcome and where they are not.

“There’s probably eight or 10 location managers in Boston, and a few of us have our towns that we like to film in because the selectman or the mayor or the police chief are easy to deal with,” Harrington explained. “Some towns can actually be a nightmare.”

Harrington says municipal workers are sometimes reluctant to cooperate because movie sets can be disruptive. Productions roll in and pretty much take over whole neighborhoods or downtown areas, creating a lot of extra work. Harrington is also the guy who handles complaints from residents who he says might say it took them 10 minutes to get home from work instead of five because of the traffic jam caused by trucks and police detail.

“And other times it can be a significant thing, like ‘My handicapped mother couldn’t get to her appointment because you had the road blocked off,’” Harrington said.

To do his job, this location manager seems to keep a mental catalog of countless streets and neighborhoods. And he notices subtle things — like how the quality of light in Boston is different than in LA or Venice.

This city’s underbelly is popular with directors, too. Harrington recalls a stinky, loud, rat-infested alley in the Back Bay.

“We scouted every alley in Boston, but the director and the designer were in love with this place. So we power washed the thing and put Clorox down. We made deals to shut off all the air conditioners,” Harrington recalled. “We made it work for the director. He was grateful for that.”

So was the locally-based sound man on the film, Tom Williams. He would’ve struggled to capture clean dialogue competing with the ventilation systems.

“Charlie is certainly the elder statesman of the scouts — there’s not doubt about that,” Williams said during a break in a shoot for “Black Mass.”

“I don’t know about elder statesman,” Harrington responded with a little smile. “It’s a young man’s job, and I’m 57. I’m still doing it. And sometimes when it gets stressful I feel like this is gonna be my last movie — and then once you get through it you’re like, ‘OK, bring on another one.’”

Harrington is currently managing locations for re-shoots on the upcoming Vince Vaughn comedy “Unfinished Business” that’s set to opens next year. He looks forward to seeing “Black Mass” and hopes the beautiful little barber shop he found in Southie makes the final cut.

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Perfectly Pressed, Or Perfectly Bloody: Local Pros Costume Hollywood Stars (AUDIO)

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Perfectly Pressed, Or Perfectly Bloody: Local Pros Costume Hollywood Stars

By Adrea Shea
August 19, 2014

BOSTON — We recently reported on the growing film crew base in Massachusetts — the gaffers, sound men and costumers who live local but are finding steady work on Hollywood movies shooting here.

Now let’s go deeper into one of the creative areas in the filmmaking ecosystem, the costume department, where professionals work long hours day after day, taking meticulous care to create wardrobes for films like “The Social Network,” “American Hustle” and “Black Mass.”

Costumer supervisor Virginia Johnson inside her yarn and crafting supplies store Gather Here and Make Something (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Costumer supervisor Virginia Johnson inside her yarn and crafting supplies store Gather Here and Make Something (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

In December Virginia Johnson can focus her attention on running Gather Here, a yarn and crafting store she owns in Cambridge. But when filmmaking season starts gearing up a few months into winter, she goes into something of a production black hole, for weeks at a time, as a costume designer or supervisor.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Johnson admitted, adding that she warns friends and family that when she’s working on a film she’ll likely be incommunicado.

In the role of costume supervisor she said people often assume she gets to sew all of the time.

“And I have to tell them I actually spend a lot of time on a computer, because I’m one of the first people on who breaks down the script,” she said.

Johnson analyzes every scene and character so she can predict how much clothing will be needed for the filming. Then her team of tailors, stitchers, costumers, production assistants and shoppers gets to work. The buyers hit local vintage stores and Goodwills to search for everything from beat-up belts to platform shoes to those iconic sweatshirts Mark Zuckerberg’s character wore in “The Social Network.”

“People don’t think of it as period, but it actually is if you think about those early 2000s,” Johnson said, “and so we did a lot of vintage shopping and had stock that was coming in from Los Angeles.”

But they couldn’t find the exact sweatshirt, so Johnson asked her tailor to recreate them.

“We’re storytellers in everything we do. How we’re dressing people just enhances the story and helps you take that journey,” she explained.

Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello are shown in a scene from “The Social Network.” (Columbia Pictures, Merrick Morton/AP)

Jesse Eisenberg, left, and Joseph Mazzello are shown in a scene from “The Social Network.” (Columbia Pictures, Merrick Morton/AP)

Johnson just wrapped the Whitey Bulger biopic “Black Mass,” and she says everyone in that costume department lives locally except for the costume director and costume designer.

“We all have really specific tasks, and we do it really well,” Johnson said. “And if you don’t fill those roles and have people who are really good in those roles, then the system falls apart.”

One of the people Johnson has relied for a number of films, including the lacrosse film “Crooked Arrows,” is key costumer Honah Lee Milne. When asked to describe her involvement with (potentially) thousands of pieces of clothing, she said, “You know, we set them in the morning, we set them per each change, we have to clean them, we have to make sure that everything looks the way it supposed to look.”

In the film business everything needs to look perfect for every single shot. That could mean perfectly pressed, grungy, bloody or ripped. This is incredibly challenging because films are almost always shot out of sequence.

For example, if Johnny Depp is wearing a shirt for a scene one day that has three buttons undone and a coffee stain on his lapel, Milne and Johnson are responsible for ensuring those same three buttons are open when they pick up the scene the following day. This is called continuity, and Milne says the department is obsessed with it.

“Everything gets bagged and tagged with the scene number, the character’s number. We keep a continuity book of how they wore the clothes, what the clothing was, its label, brand, etc.” she explained. “It’s a very detailed process of what we do to track that clothing.”

Now they’re using a new locally designed app that catalogs all of that into a shared database. Even so Milne says every day on set is a gauntlet of problem solving — and she relishes it.

“When somebody says, ‘Hey, my zipper broke,’ you’re like, ‘What kind of break do you mean? What’s the situation here? Do I need to zipper wax it? Do I need to put a whole new zipper in? Can we rig it somehow? Can I sew you into that? How can we make this work?’ ”

Milne has posed this question to actors on “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Captain Phillips,” “R.I.P.D.,” and she is currently working on “Ted 2.” She unzipped one of her two costumer’s kits that’s packed with tools and remedies.

“This is my fanny pack,” she said with a laugh. “So what’s in here, let’s see? There’s a camera. Top stick, which is double-sided tape. A piece of fur from Jen Lawrence’s coat on ‘Hustle’ that I shoved in there. Many, many stain removers, some hair spray, some shaving cream — shaving cream takes out fake blood.”

Honah Lee Milne searches through her costume kit. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Honah Lee Milne searches through her costume kit. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

If Milne can’t conquer the fake blood — or when the on-set laundry she manages doesn’t suffice — supervisor Johnson turns to another local professional.

“I mean I’ve used the same dry cleaner for the last seven years on every single movie,” she said.

His name is Farshad Sayan, and he owns Clevergreen Cleaners, based in Medford. Sayan told me he took in 4,000 to 5,000 pieces of clothing from “Black Mass.” The bill was approximately $40,000. But he said not all of the films bring in that kind of cash.

“I can count the big accounts probably on one hand: ‘Knight and Day’ with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, that was a big-budget movie that we did. ‘R.I.P.D.’ was OK. It wasn’t that great.”

Last year he handled “American Hustle.” “That was a big-budget movie,” he said.

Farshad Sayan, a dry cleaner who owns Clevergreen Cleaners, has been working on movie wardrobes with Virginia Johnson for the last seven years. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Farshad Sayan, a dry cleaner who owns Clevergreen Cleaners, has been working on movie wardrobes with Virginia Johnson for the last seven years. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Sayan says he’s worked for more than 40 movies. One wall in his Medford store is covered with autographed photographs of stars, but he believes people like Johnson in the costume department deserve more credit.

“Some of them are so meticulous,” he said, “and the one thing that I have learned is I cannot have access to how much pressure they’re under. And when I think I have pressure in my job, and then I see what they go through in the short span of time and what they’re accountable for, it just gives a whole new perspective.”

There’s one artist on Johnson’s “Black Mass” team that does something I didn’t even know existed until now. Her title is ager-dyer.

“I will throw her a leather coat,” Johnson explained, “then I say, ‘This needs to look 10 years older and exactly like this leather coat that we found in this vintage store that we already used. Paint it, crackle it, do whatever you have to do to soften it up, but I’m going to use it on a photo double tomorrow.’ ”

“The first thing I did was take a belt sander to it,” ager/dyer Jill Thibeau recalled with a laugh. “Then I think I put it in the washing machine. I’ve definitely beaten up some beautiful clothing.”

Ager/Dyer Jill Thibeau makes costumes for films look older. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Ager/Dyer Jill Thibeau makes costumes for films look older. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

For “R.I.P.D.,” Thibeau shredded a $2,500 Italian suit. On the day I visited her work space at the “Black Mass” production offices, her assignment — which Johnson wrote in black Sharpie marker on a ubiquitous wardrobe tag — simply read, “To Make Old.”

“Most of what I do is just invisible,” Thibeau said as she rubbed a new black leather belt back and forth on a work table with the heel of her hand. “I do a lot of belts and a lot of shoes. You know these are things you’ll never notice in the movie. But they’re things that just set the atmosphere.”

One of Thibeau’s favorite tools is a dremel — a small, handheld, drill-like gadget – which she uses to soften edges on new things. As she sees it, she’s giving these items character and life.

On her desk sits a few labeled bottles filled with grimy liquid. She concocts her own blends to replicate varieties of dirt for different locales, including a Southie grime mix called “Black Mass” to brush on shoes or on the bottom of pants.

“Things that might just sort of hit the street as you walk every day,” Thibeau mused.

She also worked with two other ager/dyers on “Captain Phillips” where they had to conjure the color of the earth in Somalia.

Everything Thibeau does is hand work. None is digitally replicated. She knows full-well that her job is pretty unique.

“It’s a really tight niche,” she explained, “and I feel really lucky because it didn’t exist in Boston. I’ve been trying to carve out this role at a glacial pace over the last few years.”

Thibeau went to school for textiles at the Rhode Island School of Design and teaches at MassArt during the offseason. She says recreating ring-around-the-color and sweat stains on shirts worn by actors playing drug dealers is absolutely fulfilling.

“It’s really kind of odd, actually, that I’m just sitting in here working on spraying clothes. I’m kind of recreating the texture of drugs dealers and low-lifes,” she said, laughing. “It is interesting.”

Honah Lee Milne said the same about her job as key costumer.

“Everyday I’m like, ‘I’m going to work again, and this is so awesome that I get to go make a movie’ — and then in a year I get to go see it, and go, ‘All right, did I do a good job? Is that guy’s collar right?’ ”

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Behind The Scenes, Mass. Film Crews Rise (Audio)

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Behind The Scenes, Mass. Film Crews Rise

By Adrea Shea
August 6, 2014

BOSTON — Recently there’ve been catering trucks idling on Beacon Hill, transplanted palm trees that turned Revere Beach into Miami Beach, and Johnny Depp creepily transformed into James “Whitey” Bulger.

But for every Hollywood actor passing through Boston to make movies, there are dozens of local crewmembers working long hours on set.

“It’s not a job where you’re like, ‘Hey, look at me,’ ” key costumer Honah Lee Milne, a Dorchester resident, said with a laugh. “You’re like, ‘Hey, don’t see me, I’m hiding behind this person.’ ”

Milne has dressed actors for a slew of locally shot films, including Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.”

Dorchester resident and costumer Honah Lee Miln has dressed actors for a slew of locally shot films, including “American Hustle.” (Francois Duhamel/ Columbia Pictures)

Dorchester resident and costumer Honah Lee Miln has dressed actors for a slew of locally shot films, including “American Hustle.” (Francois Duhamel/ Columbia Pictures)

Big-budget costume departments work out of 53-foot wardrobe trucks packed with racks of clothing, Milne says. She says passersby are usually fascinated by the filmmaking activity on the streets — but not always. Sometimes she’ll be unloading the trucks and a rogue motorist will drive by and yell, “Go back to Hollywood!”

“And you’re like, ummm, we live here,” she said with a bemused laugh.

“There is a strange conception on these films that everybody was shipped in, and that’s not true at all,” added Virginia Johnson, a costume supervisor and sometimes-designer. “My current project, everyone except for the designer and her assistant is a Boston local.”

Dorchester resident and costumer Honah Lee Miln. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Dorchester resident and costumer Honah Lee Miln. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Johnson’s current film is “Black Mass,” which she’s just wrapping up, and she also worked on “American Hustle” with Milne. Both have been in the business since around 2007 and shared a trajectory where one movie job has led to another.

“I did ‘The Women’ back in 2007, and that led to Richard Kelly’s ‘The Box,’ ” Johnson recalled. “And then that became ‘Surrogates.’ You just sort of travel from show to show. Definitely a high point was getting to work on ‘The Social Network’ just because it has so many roots in the Cambridge.”

Milne calls her fellow crew members “non-nomadic carnies.” But Johnson admits she has pondered Hollywood.

“There was definitely a moment in 2008 where I had a conversation with my partner, like, ‘Do you think we stay or go?’ ” she said. “Because both of us at that moment had worked on three or four major motion pictures and we wondered, should we move?”

Lisa Strout, director of the Massachusetts Film Office, says she’s heard that story before.

“There are about 4,500 film professionals in Massachusetts,” she said. “And about 1,200 to 1,400 are in the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees.”

That’s the union for film crew, including gaffers, grips, set dressers and location managers.

“And that’s a good number,” Strout explained. “A lot of our competitors really don’t have the crew base that we have.”

The competitors Strout refers to are the 40 other states that have film tax incentives. Massachusetts started offering a 25 percent tax credit in 2007 to entice movies to shoot here. At the time people questioned whether the local crew base would be big enough and experienced enough to handle the influx.

Mass. Crew Base A Big Selling Point

Strout’s job is to promote the state as a good place to make movies. These days, she says, crew is a huge selling point when she’s trying to woo Hollywood producers.

“It’s one of the very first things we talk about,” she said. “They don’t want to bring everybody. They really want there to be a local crew base, because just traveling people, housing, per diem — all that sort of thing is very expensive.”

In 2011, when Strout started at the film office, nine major productions shot in Massachusetts. The number jumped to 23 in 2013. So far this year there are already 22.

Strout says the crew base’s evolution is playing a big role. “There’s nothing better than to hear a producer say, ‘I’ve met people on the Massachusetts crew that I would take with me anywhere in the world.’ ”

Most Hollywood films hire unionized crew. Twenty years ago Chris O’Donnell used to be a boom operator in the film industry, but now he’s the business manager of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 481, based in Woburn.

“When I started this job in 2003 the membership in this local was probably about 350. It is now closer to 900,” he said. “So there’s been a dramatic increase in the numbers of members, but I think as important has been a dramatic increase in the improvement of the members.”

O’Donnell says producers used to import their key people from Los Angeles or New York. Not anymore.

“For example,” he said, “if you walked down to the set of ‘Black Mass,’ everybody in Local 481 positions are hired locally. And that didn’t happen 10 years ago.”

That said, O’Donnell admits just a few years ago some new members didn’t have the skills Hollywood demands, so he hired a training coordinator and spends upwards of 20 percent of the Local 481’s annual budget on education. O’Donnell says it’s paying off.

“Black Mass” assistant director Shelley Ziegler agrees. She’s come to Massachusetts a few times before with other film projects.

“Just speaking from ‘The Fighter’ to ‘American Hustle’ I could see definitely a difference in the number of people who applied, and who were qualified to apply,” she said. “There is a skill level.”

Ziegler has been living in Cambridge since she started scouting and hiring for “Black Mass” this past March. She says a highly skilled, local crew base is critical because a film production is a huge, expensive organism with many moving parts. If there’s one weak link, “It’s like a domino,” Ziegler said.

She estimates about 150 local technicians were used for “Black Mass,” including production sound mixer Tom Williams. He records the dialogue on set.

“I’ve been doing it awhile, and I’m lucky enough to be at the point where I’m doing studio pictures here,” he said next to a catering truck at one of the film’s downtown locations. “I mean, the studios know who I am. At first they were unwilling to take a chance.”

Big Fish, Smaller Pond

There was a time when filmworkers were itinerant, “or that it was a circus, or we were a bunch of gypsies,” Williams mused. But now he says he’s booked locally through the year, which is nice since this is where he lives. Next month, Williams will start working on the new Disney film, “The Finest Hours.”

But this career soundman isn’t banking on Massachusetts.

He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1984 and started his career doing freelance sound for commercials and documentaries. Williams moved on to record dialogue for “Surrogates,” “R.I.P.D.,” “Underdog,” “American Hustle” and “Equalizer” in Massachusetts. Even with the steady feature film work, he says he’ll continue to make himself available to productions filming out-of-state.

“Because you don’t know if the [tax] credit is going to stay,” he said. “Sooner or later it could go away. You know, we could have a negative environment. Since this is what I do, I have to be prepared for it not to be here and for me to go to it.” Then with a laugh Williams added, “Cause [sound] is all I’ve done!”

And lighting is all gaffer Frans Wetterings has done.

“I went to college for it, I went to BU,” he said. “I’m originally from California, and I decided it was better to be a big fish in a small town than a small fish in a big town, so I stayed.”

Wetterings spoke with me on the set of Woody Allen’s upcoming film that’s being shot in Newport, Rhode Island.

Gaffer Frans Wetterings’ production company currently has about 25 employees working on a Woody Allen film in Rhode Island. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

Gaffer Frans Wetterings’ production company currently has about 25 employees working on a Woody Allen film in Rhode Island. (Andrea Shea/WBUR)

He and his partner took a chance on the industry 12 years ago when they opened a lighting production company in Allston called Red Herring Motion Pictures, Inc. Wetterings said he’s got about 25 employees working on Allen’s latest creation.

And even though he’s from California, Wetterings prefers Boston. He also says more of his film industry peers feel the same way.

“People are moving here from LA because it’s a better place to raise your family, the quality of life is better, it’s not as fast-paced,” he said.

Then Wetterings pointed out that the just-released film “Sex Tape,” which he also worked on, is set in LA but was filmed in Boston.

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Two-time Academy Award® Nominee Gus Van Sant Directs Oscar® Winner Matthew McConaughey,
Nominees Ken Watanabe, Naomi Watts

Producers Include Two-time Oscar Nominee Life of Pi Producer Gil Netter

MASSACHUSETTS and TOKYO, JAPAN (July 30, 2014) – BLOOM, Waypoint Entertainment and Netter Productions announced that two-time Oscar nominated director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk) began principal photography on THE SEA OF TREES. The film stars Oscar winner Mathew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, Mud, The Wolf of Wall Street), Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe (Inception, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Last Samurai) and two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (The Impossible, 21 Grams, King Kong, Mulholland Drive). Two-time Academy Award nominated producer Gil Netter (Life of Pi, The Blind Side), Ken Kao (Rampart, Knight of Cups, Silence) and Kevin Halloran (Million Dollar Arm, Parental Guidance, Water For Elephants) are producing, based on the Black List script by Chris Sparling (Buried). F. Gary Gray, Brian Dobbins and Allen Fischer are also producers. The film will shoot on location in Massachusetts and in Japan.

Ken Kao and Alex Walton’s international sales, production and financing company, BLOOM, launched and introduced THE SEA OF TREES in Cannes, and by the end of the festival had virtually sold out the world.

Arthur Brennan (McConaughey) treks into Aokigahara, known as the Sea of Trees, a mysterious dense forest at the base of Japan’s Mount Fuji where people go to contemplate life and death. Having found the perfect place to die, Arthur encounters Takumi Nakamura (Watanabe), a Japanese man who has also lost his way. The two men begin a journey of reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur’s will to live and reconnects him to his love with his wife (Watts).

Joining director Gus Van Sant, the creative team includes editor Pietro Scalia who won Oscars for his work on both JFK and Black Hawk Down and was Oscar nominated for Good Will Hunting and Gladiator, Emmy nominated production designer Alex DiGerlando (Beasts of the Southern Wild, HBO’s True Detective), director of photography Kasper Tuxen (Beginners), Oscar nominated costume designer Danny Glicker (Milk, Up In The Air) and make up department head Felicity Bowring (The Bourne Legacy, The Social Network).

“We presented our buyers in Cannes with a timeline for SEA OF TREES and are right on target to start production on this original and deeply moving story,” said BLOOM / Waypoint’s Ken Kao. “We’ve made tremendous strides in a very short period of time – first launching the company and then seeing vigorous sales on our first film as a new company in Cannes,” says BLOOM’s Alex Walton.


About Netter Productions
Netter Productions develops and produces films for all audiences. Company founder and principal Gil Netter’s previous projects as a producer include: Life Of Pi which grossed more than $600 million worldwide, was nominated for 11 Academy Awards® including Best Picture and won four Oscars®, including Best Director for Ang Lee; Water for Elephants starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz; box office phenomenon The Blind Side, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture and garnering an Oscar for Best Actress for Sandra Bullock; the hit film, Marley and Me, starring Jennifer Anniston and Luke Wilson, Phone Booth, starring Colin Farrell and directed by Joel Schumacher, Dude, Where’s My Car?, Flicka and Fever Pitch. Netter also served as executive producer of Eragon and served as president of Zucker Brothers Productions for seven years, where he oversaw the production of Ghost and executive produced such films as My Best Friend’s Wedding, First Knight, My Life, Naked Gun 33 1/3: Final Insult, Naked Gun 2: The Smell of Fear and A Walk in the Clouds. Netter Productions’ upcoming slate includes: The Graveyard Book, directed by Ron Howard; The Shack, directed by Forest Whitaker and The Glass Castle starring Jennifer Lawrence for Lionsgate.

About Waypoint Entertainment
Waypoint Entertainment is a film and television development, production, and finance company cofounded by Ken Kao in 2010. Waypoint’s upcoming slate includes: Martin Scorsese’s Silence to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, starring Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Andrew Driver, and Ken Watanabe; and Terrence Malick’s next two films — Knight Of Cups with Christian Bale, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett, and an untitled film featuring Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett.

BLOOM represents and curates a diversified slate of films ranging from commercial, talent-driven, wide release movies, to specialty films from proven and trusted filmmakers, all the while keeping an eye towards fresh and emerging talent. Sea of Trees is the first project on the BLOOM slate. The company recently announced Skiptrace starring Jackie Chan and The Hunters, which will be directed by John Moore. The existing slate includes: Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel Dark Places starring Charlize Theron; A Walk Among the Tombstones starring Liam Neeson; The Woman in Black: Angel of Death; Pele, the biopic about the legendary Brazilian soccer player; Brian Kirk’s Passengers starring Keanu Reeves; Jane Got a Gun starring Natalie Portman; and Out of the Dark starring Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman.

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MFO Director Lisa Strout and IATSE Local 481 Business Manager Chris O’Donnell discuss cinema in the Bay State

The movie business is on a tear in Massachusetts. It’s part of the payoff from a generous but controversial tax break for the industry.

How long will the cameras and the good times roll?

The number of major productions with budgets of at least a $250,000 is on the rise in the Bay State. There were just 9 in 2011, with 23 in 2013 and 22 in the first six months of this year. The figures include TV and film.

These projects provide work for at least 4,500 film professionals in Massachusetts.

Lisa Strout, the director of the Massachusetts Film Office, and Chris O’Donnell, the business manager of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 481, join Peter Howe on CEO Corner to discuss.

In this segment, Strout and O’Donnell share their advice on getting into the local film industry.

In this segment, Strout and Chris O’Donnell talk about prospects for the future, as well as some of the interesting ways they spend their days.

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The Judge Official Trailer ~ In theaters October 10!

Massachusetts made THE JUDGE was filmed in Ashfield, Attleborough, Belmont, Boston, Buckland, Charlemont, Colrain, Dedham, Milton, Plymouth, Shelburne Falls, Sunderland, and Worcester in 2013.


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The Equalizer Official Trailer ~ In theaters September 26th

Massachusetts made THE EQUALIZER was filmed in Boston, Cambridge, Canton, Chelsea, Haverhill, Quincy, Salisbury, and Swampscott in 2013.


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First look at Robert Downey Jr. movie ‘The Judge,’ filmed in Massachusetts

By Ray Kelly
June 11, 2014

June 6, 2013 - Shelburne Falls, Mass. - Actors Robert Duvall, left, and Robert Downey Jr., in between takes on the set of The Judge, a Warner Brothers movie, in Shelburne Falls Thursday. (Michael S. Gordon /The Republican)

June 6, 2013 – Shelburne Falls, Mass. – Actors Robert Duvall, left, and Robert Downey Jr., in between takes on the set of The Judge, a Warner Brothers movie, in Shelburne Falls Thursday. (Michael S. Gordon /The Republican)

The first glimpse of “The Judge” – shot partially in Shelburne Falls, Sunderland and other Bay State communities last year – has surfaced online at Entertainment Weekly.

The still shows Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in a courtroom. Downey stars as a Chicago defense attorney who returns to his small town to represent his hostile father (Duvall) in a murder case.

“Against his own instincts and desire, he ends up staying to defend his dad from what may or may not be an intentional vehicular manslaughter case,” Downey told Entertainment Weekly. “His father is a pillar of the community. Everybody knows a dad like the judge,” the actor adds. “Every community has one, and every family has either heard of or been under that kind of patriarchy. It’s this very American story. But it’s also a story about family, and reconciliation, and law, and justice.”

During filming, along Route 47 in Sunderland near Smiarowski Farm Stand, Worcester, Boston, Attleboro, Belmont and Dedham

Set for release on Oct. 10, “The Judge” is directed by David Dobkin and also stars Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Leighton Meester and Billy Bob Thornton.

Ray Kelly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter.

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‘The Judge’: Robert Downey Jr. fights the law, and his father — FIRST LOOK

By Anthony Breznican
Entertainment Weekly
June 11, 2014

(Credit: Claire Folger)

(Credit: Claire Folger)

How do you defend someone who never defended you? That’s the heart of this thriller/family drama (out Oct. 10) starring Robert Downey Jr. as a Chicago defense attorney who returns to his small town to represent his hostile father (Robert Duvall) in a murder case.

Duvall plays the imperious title character: a living symbol of justice in their community and a tyrant in his own household — factors that compelled his son to flee years before. A family funeral brings Downey’s character home, but it’s another death that keeps him there.

“Against his own instincts and desire, he ends up staying to defend his dad from what may or may not be an intentional vehicular manslaughter case,” Downey says, flashing his eyebrows on those last few words.

“His father is a pillar of the community. Everybody knows a dad like the judge,” the actor adds. “Every community has one, and every family has either heard of or been under that kind of patriarchy. It’s this very American story. But it’s also a story about family, and reconciliation, and law, and justice.”

Downey’s character doesn’t just clash with his father, but also his brutish older brother, played by Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Men In Black) — who stands by the old man’s side in all matters. Less confident, but no less devoted to the pater familias, is the Fredo-esque youngest brother (Jeremy Strong, Zero Dark Thirty). “He, uh … he still lives at home,” Downey explains. “Slow learner.”

The film has flashes of humor, but it’s definitely more of a dramatic turn for director David Dobkin, best known for Wedding Crashers. And it’s the first project from Team Downey, the new production company founded by the actor and his wife, longtime Silver Pictures producer Susan Downey (the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

Team Downey had several films inching forward in development, including a big screen version of Perry Mason, and a drama about the aftermath of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis during World War II. The Judge, with its genre-mixing script by first-time screenwriter Bill Dubuque and Nick Schenk (Gran Torino) was “the greyhound that got its eye on the rabbit first,” as the actor puts it.

In her previous role at Silver Pictures, the dedication was to amped-up action pictures. So what kind of brand does Team Downey hope to establish? “If the type is good, that’s the brand I’d go for,” she says, saying they’re looking for the offbeat and heartfelt — though not the ultra-niche or esoteric.

“Our storytelling is character-driven but on a commercial level,” Susan says. “We wanted to do something outside the big movie tentpole projects.”

So no Iron Man suit — just emotional armor this time.

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Discovering & Developing Writers since 1998

2015 BlueCat Screenplay Competition
Final Deadline: November 15th, 2014

The 2015 BlueCat Screenplay Competition is ready for your submissions!

Since 1998, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition has provided a community for the unknown screenwriter to develop their work, giving undiscovered talent a path to professional success.

BlueCat accepts both feature length and short screenplays, and in keeping with our longstanding tradition, every screenplay will receive one written analysis, with our best screenplays receiving over $40,000 in cash prizes.

All submissions received by June 15th will receive their written analysis by July 1st.

Students will be eligible to submit their short screenplay at a special rate of $35.


Grand Prize Winner
Four finalists $2,500

Grand Prize Winner
Three finalists $1,500

The Best Feature Screenplay from the UK

Best Feature Screenplay from outside the USA, Canada or the UK

Three Winners: $250 each
All screenplays entered by August 1 are eligible


BlueCat Screenplay Competition
Weekly Newsletter:

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Warner p2

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Film, TV productions flocking to Massachusetts; tax credit is big draw

By Sara Hamedy
Los Angeles Times
May 21, 2014

"Tumbledown" stars Jason Sudeikis, left, and Rebecca Hall talk with director Sean Mewshaw during a film shoot in Concord, Mass. The indie movie's budget was roughly $4 million. (Seacia Pavao)

“Tumbledown” stars Jason Sudeikis, left, and Rebecca Hall talk with director Sean Mewshaw during a film shoot in Concord, Mass. The indie movie’s budget was roughly $4 million.
(Seacia Pavao)


Desi Van Til describes her film “Tumbledown” as a love letter to her home state of Maine..

Van Til wrote the indie movie that stars Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall and is based on her life growing up in Farmington. She envisioned filming at some of the small rural town’s landmarks — the old Farmington Diner, the Boiler Room Tavern, her best friend’s lake house, and even Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers, where she once worked.

“I was still living in Los Angeles when I began writing early drafts,” she said. The script “came initially out of a place of nostalgia or even homesickness for western Maine.”

At the time, Van Til, now 37, said she was “living in a sprawling city and trying to figure out from afar what it was exactly that made my childhood seem so special to me.”

But Van Til and husband Sean Mewshaw, who directed the movie, had to give up on their dream of filming in Maine.

“Tumbledown” filmed for about a month and wrapped April 25. The movie follows Hannah (played by Rebecca Hall), who is writing a biography of her late husband — an acclaimed musician — with the help of New York City writer Andrew (played by Jason Sudeikis). Above, a scene from the film. (Seacia Pavao)

“Tumbledown” filmed for about a month and wrapped April 25. The movie follows Hannah (played by Rebecca Hall), who is writing a biography of her late husband — an acclaimed musician — with the help of New York City writer Andrew (played by Jason Sudeikis). Above, a scene from the film.
(Seacia Pavao)

It was just too expensive, she said, because Maine’s film tax incentive couldn’t offset their roughly $4-million budget much. Shooting in California was too far away from Maine and couldn’t provide a New England feel. New York proved to be slightly over-budget.

So, like a growing number of filmmakers these days, she turned to Massachusetts. The Bay State, which some boosters call “Hollywood East,” has become a fast-growing hub for film and TV production, joining dozens of states that have cut into a business once concentrated in the Golden State.

“Within an hour of downtown Boston, we found the closest match for the Maine architecture, the forest, the classic New England antiquity and charm of the small rural town we were trying to replicate,” Van Til said. “Plus, Massachusetts had the benefit of a robust film incentive program.”

The Massachusetts Film Office touts a program offering filmmakers who spend more than $50,000 in the state a 25% tax credit to offset the costs of paying actors, building sets and other expenses. It’s among the more competitive film incentive programs in the country.

And there has been a stream of notable films that have shot scenes in the state.

Oscar-nominated “American Hustle” filmed all over Massachusetts. “Captain Phillips” filmed in Lincoln and Sudbury. “Ted,” the raunchy bear comedy, filmed in Boston, Canton, Chelsea, Everett, Norwood, Somerville and Swampscott. The sequel also is expected to film in the state.

There were 21 movies that shot in Massachusetts last year, more than double the number in 2011, according to the state’s film office. Film and TV productions spent $313 million in 2012, up from $176 million in 2011. The state paid out an estimated $78.2 million in film tax credits in 2012, according to the state department of revenue.

desi Van Til quote“It was a great place to film,” “Ted” director and writer Seth MacFarlane said of Boston. “You get the tax benefits, but it’s also a really beautiful city.”

In addition to the financial incentive, Massachusetts touts a deepening crew base and a sprawling film studio in Devens that opened in January.

New England Studios is the biggest studio in the state. The $41-million studio boasts four soundstages, 20,000 square feet of office space, 16 dressing rooms, and two hair and makeup rooms.

“We now say that Massachusetts offers everything for film, television and digital media — from soup to nuts,” said Lisa Strout, director of the state’s film office.

Massachusetts has a rich history of film production that dates to 1903. But it was “Good Will Hunting,” written by Cambridge natives Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, that put the state on Hollywood’s radar in 1997.

The hit film, directed by Gus Van Sant, generated a lot of buzz and took home Oscars for best screenplay and best supporting actor (Robin Williams).

Since then, the filmmaking duo have returned to their home state for several other projects, including the 2010 Boston crime drama “The Town” that premiered at Fenway Park.

Aside from the tax incentives, filmmakers are lured to Massachusetts because of its flexibility as a backdrop.

“Massachusetts has a wide variety of eras and looks because it’s one of the earliest settled states in the country. It has industrial, urban, farms and forest landscapes,” said Mark Kamine, a production manager for “American Hustle,” “Ted” and “The Fighter.”

For instance, David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” was largely set in New York. But the movie used various locations in the Boston area, including the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, to stand in for the Big Apple.

The ability to go into a nearby studio has also been an attraction for filmmakers. New England Studios is located about 40 miles outside of Boston.

“We’re the only game in town,” said Chris Byers, director of operations at New England Studios.

“Tumbledown” is based on Desi Van Til's life growing up in Farmington, Maine. The filmmaker gave up on her dream of filming "Tumbledown" in Maine because the state's film tax incentive wouldn’t offset the movie's budget much. Above, "Tumbledown" stars Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis. (Seacia Pavao)

“Tumbledown” is based on Desi Van Til’s life growing up in Farmington, Maine. The filmmaker gave up on her dream of filming “Tumbledown” in Maine because the state’s film tax incentive wouldn’t offset the movie’s budget much. Above, “Tumbledown” stars Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis.
(Seacia Pavao)

“Tumbledown,” which Byers called the studio’s “guinea pig,” was the first production to use the studios for office space. It also used one soundstage.

“Versatility for filming here in Massachusetts is exceptional,” said Byers, a Lowell, Mass., native who spent almost 30 years in the film business. “I started thinking we really need stages here.”

“Tumbledown” filmed for about a month and wrapped April 25. The movie follows Hannah (played by Hall), who is writing a biography of her late husband — an acclaimed musician — with the help of New York City writer Andrew (played by Sudeikis).

“We have tumbled down,” Sudeikis joked on the last day of filming after being asked to do another take on a key scene with Hall.

Folk music played in the background of the emotional scene as Hall and Sudeikis’ characters looked through relics and reminders of Hannah’s late husband, including old records he left behind.

In addition to the soundstages of New England Studios, the film shot scenes in a privately owned wood cabin in Groton, KJ’s Airport Diner in Shirley and a boutique store in Concord, “Tumbledown” producer Kristin Hahn said. They were locations that emulated Van Til’s memories of Maine.

With “Tumbledown” now wrapped, there’s buzz about what films will shoot in the state next. Byers said eight clients are interested in filming at the studios.

One movie has already generated excitement among Bostonians.

In April, a casting studio put out a call for extras for the James “Whitey” Bulger biopic “Black Mass.” Last week the first images of Johnny Depp, who will play the notorious Boston mobster, surfaced on the Internet. The movie reportedly began filming Monday.

Times staff writer Rebecca Keegan contributed to this report.

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Worcester Film Scene Gets Boost from Local Talent

By Nicholas Handy
Go Local
May 3, 2014

Production is currently underway for a new Worcester film which will blend a mix of both Hollywood celebrities and emerging local actors and actresses.

The independent film, titled “The Case Against Sam,” is a drama starring Khandi Alexander (Scandal and CSI: Miami), Malik Yoba (New York Undercover), Makenzie Vega (The Good Wife). Local television personality, Kayla Harrity, who is best known for her appearances on NESN and Dirty Water TV, is one of many locals to have a role in the movie.

“Every movie that I work on, I try to get a good mix of both Hollywood actors and local talents,” said Andrea Ajemian, producer of “The Case Against Sam.” “That is part of the reason why enjoy making movies so much; I love giving people an opportunity to shine and make an impact.”

“The Case Against Sam” is being directed by Jason Winn, who is best known for directing “The Fat Boy Chronicles,” and is about a girl named Sam who is assaulted and tries to bring justice to the situation after no one believes her. The film is currently about half way through filming and has been shot exclusively in the Worcester and Clinton area.

Mixing Hollywood and Worcester

Andrea Ajemian a producer for Aritgo Ajemian Films, has been working with films in the Worcester area for over a decade now, ranging from small commercials all the way up to films with quarter to half of a million dollar budget. Although spending time in Los Angles, Ajemian always seems to come back to Worcester where she was born and raised.

“I am super passionate about Worcester and that is why I keep coming back here to make films,” said Ajemian. “I love making movies here and it is really awesome to see that others are starting to catch on to the area as a great place to make a film.”

Worcester is a great place to film a movie for a variety of reasons. Tax credits for filming, increased access to parking, and being much cheaper than filming in a major city are just a few of the reasons that makes Worcester a great place for a movie.

“Worcester has this ability to be able to pass as a lot of other cities,” said Ajemian. “Worcester really has a lot going for it in terms of being a great place to film a movie. It is just a really easy city to film a movie in.”

Ajemian also enjoys working with movies filmed in Worcester because it gives her the ability to tap into the local talent pool. While still bringing in popular actors and actresses to bring traction to the movie, she enjoys using the local talents to show that you don’t have to be from Hollywood to make it big.

The talent pool that has been created in Worcester can be a direct result of the wealth of schools in the area. Ajemian also says that due to the smaller community that Worcester possesses offers a chance to work with people multiple times.

“I usually have people start as interns or as extras in films,” said Ajemian. “With Worcester being such a small community, I can remember everyone. There are a lot of people that I have worked with who started out with smaller parts and through continually working with me have graduated onto much larger roles which makes it all worth it for me in the end.”

A Hotbed for Films

With more and more films make their way to the city for filming, Worcester is certainly becoming a hotbed for the film industry. This increase of film industry popularity has helped to bring something back to Worcester that had been missing for almost a decade: a film festival.

Heading into its second year, The Worcester Film Festival is a blend of showcasing local talent – whether on the production or acting side – and national level films. James Lewis, the festival’s founder, created the event not only because of his passion for film, but also because it was something that just needed to be done.

“The past few years I have been doing my homework about the film industry in Worcester,” said Lewis. “We have had a lot of really big and successful movies filmed here. One of the first films produced here was a documentary about trolleys in 1919 so I would definitely say that we have a film history here. I started thinking about how we used to have a film festival here and I began to think that we really should have one.”

Lewis acknowledges the format of his festival to be slightly different than that of a traditional festival. Rather than having people send in submissions to sift through, he handpicks each of the films that will be playing. And because of last year’s success, the festival was able to get some sponsors to help bring in higher profile films to mix with the local level films.

“Last year, I would say that the festival was a 50/50 split,” said Lewis, in reference to the mix of local and higher profile films that are featured on the nation festival circuit. “Support has surpassed my expectations; this is definitely something that works in Worcester. Because of having sponsors this year, I have the ability to pay for some more expensive films, but I will still feature the local films.”

This year’s film festival is set to feature a higher ratio of national films, about 80-percent according to Lewis, which is mostly because he wants to expand the festival into a larger operation.

Is Worcester becoming a hotbed for the film industry?

Is Worcester becoming a hotbed for the film industry?

The expansion of the film festival, although still in its infancy, is just one of the many reasons why Worcester could be considered a hotbed for the film industry. While many have already realized the potential that Worcester has in terms of the film industry, Lewis admits that the film scene is something all Worcester residents should support and rally behind.

“Worcester is certainly a hotbed for the film scene,” said Lewis. “Worcester is a place known for a lot of history and bad things. I think that the film industry is something that can be a very positive thing for Worcester. I also think that this is something everyone in the city can benefit from; it has the potential to touch the entire city. Worcester has a real chance to define itself here; it just needs to continue to support films.”

Massachusetts Growth

While the film industry has grown quite rapidly over the past few years in Worcester, Massachusetts as a whole has also seen a growth. This statewide expansion in the film industry could be attributed to both the success of films like “American Hustle” and also the state’s film tax credit program, which offers a 25% production credit, a 25% payroll credit, and a sales tax exemption if the filming meets proper criteria.

Lisa Strout, the director of the Massachusetts Film Office, has seen a large growth in the Massachusetts film industry since 2011, where only nine major productions – which is considered any film with a budget of $250,000 or over – occurred throughout the state. Massachusetts saw 14 major productions in 2012 and saw 21 last year.

“The film industry is definitely growing in Massachusetts, creating more and more jobs for Massachusetts residents,” said Strout. “We don’t consider each city as having its own industry since crew, actors, and vendors from all over the state are hired. But as you know, Worcester has been used as a location in a number of films.”

And while 21 major productions seems like a high number of films for one state, Strout acknowledges that many other types of films are shot and made in Massachusetts. These films range in size and budget and can include documentaries, small budget and independent films, short films, and even commercials.

Having a film come to any city can be very beneficial to both the community and the economy. And with Worcester becoming an alluring location for filmmakers, the film industry could be the fuel needed to be added to the fire to make Worcester’s economy great.

“Worcester has a lot of character and a great number of period locations which draw the interest of filmmakers,” said Strout. “Film & television productions have unique spending patterns and tend to rent and purchase goods and services from the vicinity in which the production is taking place. As a result the community benefits from the infusion of new money into the local economy. Depending upon the storyline of course, some films create an increase in the exposure of the community which can affect tourism and other visitation.”

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‘Top Chef’ Moves to Boston for 12th Season

By Francesca Bacardi
April 30, 2014


Boston will be serving up a whole lot more than baked beans this year, as “Top Chef” is set to film its 12th season in the City upon a Hill this spring.

Host Padma Lakshmi, head judge Tom Colicchio and judge Gail Simmons will return for the culinary competition, which will also feature guest judges, including Boston-based chefs and celebrities as well as culinary stars. While names have not been released, it’s probably worth noting that past cheftestants with ties to the city include season 11 winner Nicholas Elmi, who hails from Boston-adjacent West Newbury, Mass., and season 10 winner Kristen Kish, who works in the area.

“Boston has always been at the top of our wishlist as a location for ‘Top Chef,’ not only because of its rich historical significance, but also because of its robust and ever-growing culinary scene,” said Shari Levine, Bravo senior VP of current production, in a statement.

Season 12 of “Top Chef” will premiere this fall on Bravo.

Francesca Bacardi @originalfresca

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ONE DAY IN BOSTON Starts This Saturday April 26th!


To participate, click on the image for more!

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Not just a cameo appearance

By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Globe
April 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Van Voorhis can be reached at sbvanvoorhis@

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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