News & Events

Zoo’ lands stars

By Inside Track
Boston Herald
June 24, 2009

Adam Sandler
Actor Adam Sandler flashes the peace sign to his fans during a break at the second day of filming for GROWN UPS at the Pilgrim Church in Southborough, Mass.

Word from the Left Coast is that Adam Sandler, Cher, Sly Stallone, Jon Favreau and Judd Apatow will voice animals in Kevin James’ “The Zookeeper,” which will shoot at the Franklin Park Zoo in October.

The funny flick, which sounds like a cross between “Dr. Doolittle” and “Cyrano de Bergerac” is about a lowly zookeeper – surprise! – who can’t win the heart of his beloved (Rosario Dawson) until his furry charges start talking and giving him love advice.

Sandler, who is with James filming “Grown Ups” on the North Shore, will be the voice of a capuchin monkey, and Cher will be a giraffe. Favreau will lend his voice to a bear, Stallone is a lion and Apatow is an elephant, Variety reported yesterday. Peanuts all around!

Chris Rock
GROWN UPS star Chris Rock showing his face outside of Woodman’s in Essex where the buddy comedy also starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and David Spade, is filming this week (fried clams for everyone!) . . .

Photos by Kevin Ma (Sandler) and Patrick Whittemore (Rock).

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Zoo’ lands stars

Hollywood comes to Canton: Actress stays close to home

By CONSTANCE GORFINKLE
The Patriot Ledger
June 23, 2009

CANTON — Cindy Lentol puts one in mind of Lee Remick, the all-American beauty from Quincy who graced the screen several decades ago in such superb films as “A Face in the Crowd,” “Anatomy of a Murder” and “Days of Wine and Roses.”

Blond, blue-eyed and possessing a dazzling smile, Lentol may resemble Remick, but her outlook on their shared profession is very different from that of her predecessor. Remick was groomed to be a movie star in a system that overtook a performer’s life, from where she lived – inevitably Hollywood – to the kinds of roles she played and the image she was supposed to project, on and off the screen.

In sharp contrast, 30-something Lentol is an independent contractor, living where she chooses – Canton – and running her own career, from a leading role in a 15-minute short to a small part in the multimillion-dollar “The Departed,” alongside such A-list actors as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. She fills out her resume with voiceover work, commercials, industrial films and modeling for print media.

During an interview at the Barnes & Noble café in Braintree, she says she’s rarely unemployed, which isn’t surprising, particularly because the film industry has changed profoundly, mainly in its decentralization.

As in other parts of the country, Massachusetts is vigorously wooing moviemakers. Film companies are sprouting up all over the state, and at least three state-of-the-art studio complexes are in various stages of development, in Weymouth, Plymouth and Boston. That means – when all these entities are up and running – filmmakers won’t have to go back to California to shoot interiors or do all the post-production work that a movie requires.

Besides the lavish accommodations, the state has put out the welcome mat for producers by offering them tempting tax incentives that over the past few years have resulted in many major motion pictures being shot here. One of those films, playing in theaters now, is the romantic comedy “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” in which Lentol portrays one of the girlfriends opposite Matthew McConaughey.

A professional performer for the past 20 years, Lentol came to Massachusetts – by way of Connecticut, Ohio and California – a decade ago because her husband was establishing his business in Braintree.

“It’s been a good move,” she says, referring not only to the fact that it has been a good place to raise her two children, but also to the fact that her career has thrived over the past 10 years. For a while she’d had a dual career path, aiming toward graphic design as well as performing. But the latter took the lead when she found herself “going to auditions during my lunch hour.”

In talking to Lentol one doesn’t get the impression that she’s a driven diva focused only on a successful career. Very involved in her children’s lives, she intersperses her film gigs with responsibilities at their school. Hers is a 9-to-5 profession when it comes to the big movies she appears in, most recently “The Company Men,” a drama about three corporate types trying to survive a recession. Being directed by John Wells (“ER,” “Southland”) and starring Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner and Ben Affleck, the film is still being shot in the Greater Boston area.

“In my scene I’m hosting an upscale dinner party in South Boston, and one of my guests is Tommy Lee Jones.” At that point, Lentol brings out her cell phone, on which there’s a picture of her and Jones strolling down a Boston street. Another photo is of her and McConaughey.

She also recently had a role in a television pilot starring Donnie Wahlberg and Brian Dennehy. Scheduled to air on TNT, “Bunker Hill” could become a series that would be shot in Boston. But Lentol doesn’t seem to be counting on that. She’s actually more fired up about a couple of shorts that recently generated a lot of interest at the ninth annual Chlorudis Film Festival held at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge.

In “Well-Founded Concerns,” a timely piece about a couple of germaphobes caught up in a world-wide plague, which won First Place for Best Short Film, she plays one of the germaphobes. In the other film, “Mind the Gap,” which won second place for Audience Favorite, Lentol portrays a school counselor trying to help a girl traumatized by her father’s involvement in a fatal mass-transit accident.

These two films, only about 15 minutes long each and shot over single weekends, afford her what the blockbusters don’t – the opportunity to create characters whom she describes as “organic, people who are true to themselves.” Indeed, her beauty is played down in both these films, a sharp contrast to her flirtatious stewardess in “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.”

Lentol represents the new era in filmmaking. The goal isn’t always to become a star. Sometimes it’s simply to enjoy what you’re doing. “I love making movies,” she says.

But she also loves going home to Canton after work. When Lee Remick was seeking a film career, she had to go west. In Lentol’s case: “Hollywood has come to me.”

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Hollywood comes to Canton: Actress stays close to home

Film studios don’t see rivalry, yet

By D.C. Denison
Boston Globe
June 20, 2009

They are unlikely costars, just 33 miles apart on Massachusetts’ South Shore: two ambitious plans for film studios. Plymouth Rock Studios wants to build a production complex in South Plymouth; the International Studio Group is proposing a studio on the former naval air base in South Weymouth.

The two projects could be rivals, competing for film projects that both are predicting will come to the Bay State. But after Thursday’s announcement that the South Weymouth studio plans to break ground in November, giving it an early lead in the race toward completion, developers for both projects and the town officials who have been working with them are still saying there will be plenty of business for both.

Susan Kay, mayor of Weymouth, said she’s not keeping score on which town is ahead. “I don’t see us as being in competition. It’s such a new industry, there’s plenty of room for both of us,’’ she said.

Melissa Arrighi, acting town manager of Plymouth, said she’s hoping that both projects get developed. “I’m interested in anything that will stimulate this economy,’’ she said. “I don’t have the expertise to know if there’s room for both, but I think whoever secures a site and gets up and running first has an advantage, and we’re aggressively moving forward to make the Plymouth Rock Studios plan a reality.’’

Lee Hartmann, Plymouth’s director of planning and development, said, “I’m not really looking at what’s going on in Weymouth. As a town, we’re committed to making sure our project works.’’

This week’s bullish announcement concerning the South Weymouth project came shortly after the state refused, earlier this month, to provide $50 million in bonds for infrastructure work at the Plymouth project. The Massachusetts

Executive Office of Administration and Finance said state economic specialists determined that the net revenue from Plymouth Rock Studios wouldn’t be enough to cover annual payments on the $50 million bond. “That was only a minor setback,’’ Arrighi said. “There are other avenues for funding, and we’re pursuing those aggressively.’’

“We were disappointed on the government funding, but we are still hopeful that we can find ways to work with the Commonwealth to look for subsidies and offsets on our infrastructure costs,’’ said David Kirkpatrick, cofounder of Plymouth Rock Studios.

He said the two projects in close proximity could create a critical mass that would help both. “There are a lot of good Italian restaurants in the North End, and together they make a great dining destination,’’ he added. “We’re still hopeful that together we can create an ecosystem. . . . We’re staying positive moving forward.’’

The South Weymouth facility will be a $147 million motion-picture complex on 30 acres at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. The 600,000-square-foot facility for movies, television shows, video games, and other programs, will be part of SouthField, a proposed minicity on the shuttered air base.

The Weymouth project is also waiting for approval by state legislators of a 20 percent tax credit on construction costs.

Plymouth Rock Studios would be a $282 million project with 14 soundstages initially, with plans to expand to as many as 28 stages. Two back lots and a pair of production buildings are also part of the plans. A performing arts school, vocational classrooms, cultural and visitors centers, and a screening theater are also on the drawing board.

D.C. Denison can be reached at denison@globe.com

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Film studios don’t see rivalry, yet

Cruise, Diaz, and more may be heading to Hub

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Boston Globe
June 19, 2009

Cruise

Hollywood’s infatuation with the Hub is getting serious. Very serious.

A slew of screen idols are about to descend on Boston to shoot new movies, including, we’re told, Tom Cruise. That’s right, the world’s most famous movie star is in serious talks to shoot his latest flick here starting in September.

Called “Wichita,’’ the action comedy would be the biggest budget movie ever to film here, and Cruise and costar Cameron Diaz could be hanging around the Hub for up to three months. The film, one of several high-profile projects Cruise had considered, will be directed by James Mangold, whose credits include “Walk the Line’’ and “Girl, Interrupted.’’

Not much is known about the script, which is being burnished now by Mangold and “Shutter Island’’ scribe Laeta Kalogridis, but Variety previously reported that the story centers on a single woman who meets a mysterious man on a blind date, and he turns out to be a handsome secret agent.

Since the prospective blockbuster stars Cruise, it will, of course, have several high-octane action sequences, and word is producers have already approached state officials about securing permits to close certain roads and bridges during shooting. We’re also told that a location scout has been in the city for a few weeks checking out various neighborhoods.

It remains to be seen if Greater Boston has enough tradespeople to satisfy the demands of the many movies set to shoot here.

In addition to the Cruise pic, there’s “The Fighter,’’ director David O. Russell’s biopic of Lowell-bred brawler “Irish’’ Micky Ward, which starts shooting in the Mill City July 6. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

Then there’s “Furry Vengeance,’’ a family comedy starring Brendan Fraser and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year’’ costar Matt Prokop, who plays a city kid forced to move to rural Oregon with his dad. The movie rolls early next month.

Later in July, Kevin James and Rosario Dawson will take up temporary residence at the Franklin Park Zoo to shoot “The Zookeeper.’’ The movie stars James as a likable zookeeper who’s unlucky with the ladies, so he consults with the critters. Yes, the animals talk in the film, which makes us wonder if Little Joe is busy learning English. (By the way, the Franklin Park Zoo will keep its name in the movie.)

Finally, in August, Ben Affleck gets behind the camera again, following up “Gone Baby Gone’’ with “The Town,’’ a movie based on Chuck Hogan’s book “Prince of Thieves.’’ The award-winning novel is about a Charlestown thief, played by Affleck, who falls hard for the bank manager whose branch he and his crew just robbed. Word is Rebecca Hall, who was in “Frost/Nixon,’’ will play the pretty bank manager.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Cruise, Diaz, and more may be heading to Hub

Paul Giamatti could warm up to ‘Stooges’ role

By Laura Raposa
Boston Herald
June 20, 2009

Giamatti
Photo by Mark Garfinkel

NANTUCKET – Would Paul Giamatti consider replacing Sean Penn as Larry Fine in the Farrelly Brothers upcoming “Three Stooges” flick? Soitenly!

The Emmy Award-winning actor, who is here at the Nantucket Film Festival with his dark comedy “Cold Souls,” revealed that, as a kid, he thought Moe, Larry and Curly were scary and creepy. But he’s come to appreciate their comedy in middle age.

“They were always so dark and grim,” winced Paul G., who won an Emmy last year for his role as the dark and grim John Adams in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries. “And Moe was this ancient man with a little boy’s haircut. But Larry? I don’t get Larry. He’s strange. He’s sort of the blank guy in the middle.”

Peter and Bobby Farrelly thought they’d finally cast their long-awaited comedy with Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio del Torro until Penn pulled out this week for his self-imposed yearlong hiatus. But coincidentally the Farrellys and Giamatti are all on Nantucket for the rainy film festival so some impromptu casting may happen!

Bobby Farrelly told the Track yesterday that Giamatti would be “a sensational Larry.”
“We’d love to have Paul,” he said.

However, Peter said the duo “have an offer out to someone else.”

The Rhode Island homeys have been working on their “Stooges” script for 10 years and were set to begin filming it in August in Massachusetts. However, the Penn departure may push them back to October or next spring.

“We were devastated to lose Sean,” Peter said, “but we can’t blame him for choosing his family over our film.”

Penn pulled out of “Stooges” and a second project to spend more time with his family after months of marital turmoil between him and his wife, Robin Wright Penn .

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Paul Giamatti could warm up to ‘Stooges’ role

Film complex plans taking shape

Boston Globe
By Casey Ross
June 19, 2009

A California studio developer yesterday launched plans to build a $147 million motion-picture complex on 30 acres at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. International Studio Group said it plans to break ground in November and by next spring will be in full construction of a 600,000-square-foot facility for movies, television shows, video games, and other programs.

“What we’re hoping to do is help build up the entire entertainment industry in the state,’’ said Allan Kassirer, a principal with International Studio. “If the state remains committed to it, there is no reason we can’t grow high-paying jobs and retain talented young people at local colleges.’’

The 12-stage studio will be part of SouthField, a proposed mini-city on the shuttered air base that the Patrick administration this week said would probably be the beneficiary of a multimillion-dollar road construction project intended help the development get going. ISG’s financial partner in the deal is LNR Property Corp., which is the master developer of the larger project.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Film complex plans taking shape

Essex gains from filming ‘Grown Ups’ seen at $1 million

Gloucester Daily Times
By Cameron Kittle
June 19, 2009

ESSEX — It’s been three weeks since the star-studded cast of “Grown Ups” arrived in Essex to begin filming at Centennial Grove, and the town is not only buzzing with enthusiasm, but thriving on the added business opportunities as well.

Rumors of celebrity sightings at local spots are circulating daily, including star Salma Hayek’s stop at Silly Goose Toy Store, confirmed by owner Diane Robinson.

The movie also stars Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Kevin James, and it has brought $150,000 directly to the town to rent Centennial Grove for filming. But merchants say the town’s gains extend far beyond that.

“The statistics are pretty astounding,” said Bob Coviello, owner of Main Street Antiques and member of the Essex Merchants Group. “The numbers are far more impressive than just the $150,000 paid to the town.”

Coviello estimates the movie will bring in close to $1 million locally by the time it’s finished, and Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki said that he has already seen a wide variety of benefits stemming from the movie.

The Manchester Essex Little League received $25,000 for improvements to the Field of Dreams, the Essex Musical Festival took in $6,000 to relocate its annual event to Memorial Park, and the Essex Youth Commission Summer Camp program picked up a $3,000 donation on top of the $5,000 it was given to relocate.

Coviello said the crews bought about $20,000 worth of antiques from shops throughout the town for their sets in the cottage, and have spent additional money for lumber and food at local restaurants. But the flowing river of money doesn’t stop there, he said.

“Then there’s the excitement effect,” Coviello said. “It draws people here; it draws more tourists and more visitors. Every time somebody says Essex in reference with the movie, it’s advertising for the town.”

Meanwhile, each group that usually stays at Centennial Grove in the summer has received $1,000 to live elsewhere; the Council on Aging, the Essex Shipbuilders Athletic Association and the Manchester Essex Junior Hornets football team were all given $1,000 for relocation purposes.

The movie has also covered the construction of two basketball courts on Centennial Grove: a small one-net court near the cottage and a two-net court in the center of the area. New gravel has been added to the parking lot by the baseball field. The docks by the lake have been renovated and will be left in better condition. An underground electrical line has been installed that might be used for future events at the Field of Dreams.

“There has been quite a residual impact with funds that have been spent in the community,” Zubricki said. “There were a lot of opportunities that did not come to the town per se, but they’re going to the community and businesses.”

All of this without mentioning the renovations to Grove Cottage, which Coviello said is “a palace now.” The lakefront treasure will be left with a new kitchen, new bathrooms and the proper ventilation for a heating or cooling system yet to be installed.

“It’s difficult to quantify everything, but if you bring a few hundred people to the town it’s going to help all the local businesses,” said Selectman Mark Lynch.

“Grown Ups” is one of the many movie projects that have popped up around the state in the past few years, due mainly to legislation that allows any motion picture to claim tax credits on their expenditures.

From 1999 to 2005, Massachusetts saw 10 films produced in the state and gained $67 million over those seven years. In the three years since the tax credit act has been in effect, from 2006 to 2008, the state has been the site of 26 films and gained $545 million, according to the Massachusetts Film Office.

As a matter of comparison, the state received only 2 percent of the $140 million budget for “The Perfect Storm,” which was partly filmed in Gloucester in 1999, but an estimated 70 percent of the $42 million budget for “21,” which was filmed in Boston and Cambridge in 2007.

Cameron Kittle can be reached at gt_reporter@gloucestertimes.com

Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Essex gains from filming ‘Grown Ups’ seen at $1 million

YouTube: Trailer for SURROGATES – opens 9/25/09

SURROGATES, shot in Massachusetts in 2008, opens in theaters nationwide on September 25, 2009.

Posted in Video | Comments Off on YouTube: Trailer for SURROGATES – opens 9/25/09

Work on Weymouth filmmaking studio nears action

Boston Herald
By Thomas Grillo
June 18, 2009

The long-delayed construction of a Hollywood-style sound stage south of Boston could start this fall.

International Studio Group is moving ahead with plans to build a 12-stage motion picture studio at SouthField at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. The $147 million project will include a 600,000-square-foot campus where movie, television, video games, music videos and commercials can be produced without weather worries.

“Today, there’s only filming in Massachusetts for six months of the year because of weather,” said Allan Kassirer, an ISG principal. “When we’re done, we’ll have 12 weatherized sound stages protected from the elements.”

The 30-acre campus will include supporting office, production and retail space. Construction of the facility will create up to 1,600 temporary jobs; the finished studios will employ about 1,500 people. Because SouthField is located 12 miles south of Boston and 15 miles from Logan International Airport, ISG executives are convinced they won’t face competition from another Hollywood studio planned in Plymouth.

The Plymouth Rock Studios is preparing construction on a 240-acre site. That studio is projected to open next year. “We are not watching them,” said Kassirer. “It’s location, location, location and we’re at the goal line.”

Groundbreaking on the project is targeted for the end of 2009 after a review by South Shore TriTown Corp., a joint venture of the towns of Weymouth, Abington and Rockland.

Tri-Town CEO Kevin Donovan couldn’t be reached for comment.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Work on Weymouth filmmaking studio nears action

SouthField Studios Boston ready to start accepting tenants at Weymouth site

The Patriot Ledger
By Jon Chesto
June 18, 2009

WEYMOUTH —The developers of a proposed movie studio complex in South Weymouth are ready for the spotlight.
Principals of International Studio Group, the California firm developing the SouthField Studios Boston campus, said they are ready to start signing up tenants for the project.

Allan Kassirer, a principal at ISG, said the developers are negotiating with a brokerage firm to handle the leasing to help fill up the nearly 600,000-square-foot project. Kassirer added that ISG can start accepting tenants before a brokerage is hired.
“We would start signing up tenants today,” Kassirer said. “We’re ready to begin leasing.”

Kassirer said he expects to break ground for site work in the late fall or early winter at a portion of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station, and actual building work would begin by early next spring.

The project will cost from $150 million to $200 million to complete, said Jack McDaniel, another ISG principal. He said the eventual goal would be to build 12 sound stages spread among nearly 215,000 square feet as well as about 350,000 square feet of offices, other support spaces and retail space.

Potential long-term tenants could range from special-effects companies to costumers and lighting companies. Short-term tenants would include actual film and TV productions. Kassirer said the project would be built in phases, depending on the demand from potential tenants. He expects it would take at least 18 months to build the project’s first phase.

The project would receive financing help from LNR Property Corp., the former air base’s redeveloper. Kassirer said the studio project would move forward on LNR-owned land and is not dependent on the long-delayed transfer of the remaining portion of the air base from the U.S. Navy. The delays in the transfer have slowed LNR’s efforts to redevelop the site into a mixed-use project to be called SouthField. Kassirer said he’s confident the site’s proximity to Boston would drive interest from numerous film companies attracted to the state because of its generous tax credits.

A separate team of developers has also been busy signing up tenants for a $500 million movie studio complex to be called Plymouth Rock Studios in Plymouth. Much smaller studios are being considered for spaces in South Boston and Lowell.

Nick Paleologos, the executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, said he is encouraged that SouthField Studios and Plymouth Rock Studios are moving forward despite setbacks in getting public funding help for both projects. ISG had initially wanted the Legislature to pass a bill that would expand the state’s film industry tax credits to help offset film studio construction costs. That bill died in the Legislature last year, and ISG decided to move forward with the SouthField project anyway. More recently, Plymouth Rock Studios developers just learned that the Patrick administration is not going to allow Plymouth Rock access to a program that could provide up to $50 million in state financing.

“The fact that they’re both proceeding ahead is a vote of confidence in the future of the industry in this state,” Paleologos said. “It’s not me talking or advocates in the industry talking. It’s investors who are talking with their money.”

The state’s film industry has boomed since new tax credits took effect in January 2006 and were sweetened by the Legislature in mid-2007. But Paleologos said sound stages are needed to make this state more competitive with places like New York and New Mexico, which already have sound-stage complexes. In many cases, movie producers that want sound stages in Massachusetts need to retrofit underused warehouses.

Paleologos said this state has largely missed out on the big-budget, special-effects-laden blockbusters that require multiple sound stages at once. Paleologos also said sound stages would play a crucial role in helping land a television series with a dozen to two dozen episodes a year shot here. The state hasn’t had such a series since “Spencer: For Hire” was shot here in the 1980s. Pilot episodes for three potential TV series have been shot in the state in the last six months, but Paleologos said he hasn’t heard of any of those pilots being picked up for a full series yet.

Jon Chesto may be reached at jchesto@ledger.com.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on SouthField Studios Boston ready to start accepting tenants at Weymouth site

Flickfest heralds Harold Ramis’ genius

Boston Herald
By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa
June 18, 2009

Big screen funnymen Ben Stiller, Harold Ramis, Peter Farrelly and Paul Giamatti are bound for the 14th annual Nantucket Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at the ’Sconset Casino.

The four-day flickfest will take a comedic turn this year with a tribute to Ramis, the scribe behind the goofball box-office hits “Animal House,” “Caddyshack” and “Ghostbusters.”

Ramis’ new flick, “Year One,” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, opens nationwide tomorrow and will close the festival on Sunday.

On Saturday, Stiller, the island summer res who penned the hilarious Hollywood spoof “Tropic Thunder,” will lead an all-star comedy panel. He will join Ramis, Farrelly and “Meet the Fockers” screenwriter John Hamburg in revealing all about crafting comedy scripts. Expect a Harold lovefest.

“I think whoever is honored at the Screenwriters Tribute sets the tone for the entire festival,” artistic director Mystelle Brabbee told the Track. “And this year it all started with Harold. He has deeply influenced Ben, the Farrelly Brothers and John Hamburg, so when we found out all would be on the island with us, we said we’ve got to get these three guys together.”

Ben’s mom, Anne Meara, will once again co-emcee the ever-entertaining “Late Night Storytelling” event. This year’s theme – “Stories of Change” – will bring celebrity raconteurs “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines and “Curb” director Bryan Gordon, actress Lili Taylor and actor Fisher Stevens to the stage to tell their tales of change.

Ben Stiller, we hear, also may have a story. Or two.

Giamatti, who landed on the island yesterday with his family in tow, stars as himself in “Cold Souls,” a somewhat funny flick written by Sophie Barthes, who won the flickfest’s annual screenwriter’s competition in 2006. Sophie, according to festival legend, approached Giamatti when he was on-island three years ago and told him about the script she wrote with him in mind. He signed on a short time later.

“It’s not an overt comedy, but it has comedic undertones because Paul Giamatti makes it super funny,” Mystelle said.

And speaking of funny, NBC News nabob Brian Williams will once again emcee the Screenwriter’s Tribute in his off-the-cuff, let’s-make-fun-of-Nantucket kind of way.

The “Nightly News” king, BTW, joined the festival’s board this year even though his NBC bosses pulled the plug on the network’s long-time festival sponsorship. Because, of course, the flickfest’s big cheerleader, Robert Wright, an island res, is no longer chairman of NBC Universal.
“We are so grateful for Brian’s continued support,” Brabbee told the Track.

Roll ’em!

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Flickfest heralds Harold Ramis’ genius

Bullock on Rockport

by Mark Shanahan
Boston Globe
June 17, 2009

Sandra Bullock is good for tourism. The actress gave a national TV shout-out this morning to Rockport, which is where she filmed her new movie “The Proposal” with Ryan Reynolds. During her appearance on “Live With Regis and Kelly,” Bullock explained to host Regis Philbin and his wife Joy that “The Proposal”‘s Alaska scenes were actually shot in Rockport. Bullock said, of the ‘Port, “I’m sadly embarrassed by the fact that I had not discovered that part of America. One of the most beautiful historic landscapes that I’ve ever been around.” We agree, of course. Bullock not only filmed in Rockport last year, she spent money there. Last June, she was spotted buying a shell mosaic at Capt. Steve’s Seashell Shop as a gift for “Proposal” director Anne Fletcher.

COMMENT: She also praised the beauty of Rockport during her appearance on David Letterman. –Posted by taylor June 17, 09 04:59 PM


Posted in Article | Comments Off on Bullock on Rockport

Finding FAME

By Kathryn Koch
WickedLocal.com
June 16, 2009

PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce wants to help the South Shore gain fame as a film-friendly region for the production of movies, documentaries, commercials and other forms of entertainment.

The Chamber’s new FAME (Film, Arts, Movie Production and Entertainment) initiative aims to accelerate the growth of the film industry in all South Shore towns, and not just the nine communities the organization serves, according to Executive Director Denis Hanks.

“As these films and smaller productions start coming in, we’d like to entice them to the South Shore,” he said. “We want to really start marketing ourselves as a film-friendly community.”

The FAME initiative, independent of Plymouth Rock Studios’ planned movie and entertainment production facility, focuses on enticing producers to shoot on location in area towns, Hanks said. The initiative proposes to take advantage of the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit, attracting more and more productions to Massachusetts. To make it more convenient for producers to decide if and when they should film in towns on the South Shore, Hanks said efforts are underway to develop a consistent streamlined permitting approval process.

“Usually there’s need for a quick turnaround of about a week,” he said. “We’re trying to work with all the South Shore communities to adopt an approval process.”

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Film Office, FAME will highlight regional strengths and possible locations for filming. The Chamber has also partnered with the Plymouth County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the area’s regional tourist council for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. Hanks can’t wait for the day the famous director rumored to have the rights to Stephen Philbrick’s book Mayflower decides to make the movie about Plymouth in Plymouth, boosting tourism while making filming in the area even more attractive.

“We want to really start marketing ourselves as a film-friendly community,” he said.

Production crews would be able to go to www.fameplymouth.com to look at photographs of area towns to find the right location for the production they’ve planned. The Web site also features information on training and education programs at local colleges and universities and the goods and services Chamber member businesses provide.

Hanks said one goal is to build a workforce around the entertainment industry. While some jobs might be considered temporary, he said, a skilled worker with experience and solid references can get a series of jobs that make the work more seasonal than temporary. Productions shot outdoors on location are seasonal.

A key component to building a workforce focuses on education. Hanks said many colleges and universities, including Massasoit, Curry and Quincy colleges, locally, offer film programs to students seeking training in visual and performing arts, media and broadcasting. These programs will be highlighted during a presentation in Plymouth in October. Area high schools are also starting to offer programs for students to learn about filmmaking and special effects.

Hanks serves on the South Coastal Workforce Investment Board that oversees federal and state workforce development activities. A subcommittee focusing on the film industry wants to increase employment opportunities in careers related to all aspects of the industry.

Chamber members can benefit directly from the initiative when production crews need products and services whether it’s a catering service, hairdresser or company that rents out tents, Hanks said. There are approximately 800 businesses in the Chamber, and they are eligible to be placed on a preferred vendor list that would be provided to production companies.

Hanks said students already have the mindset they need and skills in multiple areas of movie and entertainment production.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Finding FAME

A movie boom’s special effect

The rise of Mass. filmmaking means opportunities for local creative teams – like bringing Alaska home

By Mark Feeney
Boston Globe Staff
June 12, 2009

Brickyard-Waller
Brickyard VFX, co-owned by Geoff McAuliffe (left) and Dave Waller, handled the effects work on ”The Proposal,” a Hollywood movie filmed in Massachusetts. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

In “The Proposal,” which opens next Friday, Sandra Bullock plays a high-powered executive who has to pretend she’s engaged to her assistant. You’d think the plot twist that sets up the engagement – Bullock’s character, a Canadian, needs an American husband to keep from being deported – would be the only special effect the romantic comedy requires.

Actually, “The Proposal” has 350 special effects shots. This is what happens when the North Shore, where the movie was almost entirely filmed, has to look like Alaska, where the movie is largely set.

All those special effects being necessary, you’d assume they’d be done in California by an FX giant, like Industrial Light and Magic or Digital Domain. Actually, they were created up a flight of creaky stairs in an old brick building near the intersection of Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue.

“There was this great opportunity to reach into a different market and try something,” said Dave Waller in a recent interview. Waller is co-owner of Brickyard VFX, which handled the effects work on “The Proposal.” That great opportunity is the ongoing boom in local filmmaking that followed the 2006 implementation of tax incentives for in-state film productions.

“We expected the film tax credit would spark growth in the surrounding industries – and Brickyard is a prime example of that,” said Jason Schupbach, creative economy industry director of the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, in a phone interview. Brickyard, Schupbach said, exemplifies “the intangible knowledge base we’re trying to grow here. That’s what’s so exciting for us, seeing the people infrastructure grow. The physical infrastructure is great, but the people infrastructure is what matters.”

That people infrastructure (there are 38 visual effects people credited on “The Proposal”) largely consists of recent Emerson, Northeastern, Boston University, and Museum School graduates. Sean Devereaux, a Fitchburg State grad, supervised visual effects on “The Proposal.” At 32, he almost seems like an old man by comparison.

Brickyard’s offices have the look and feel of a college hangout. The 20 compositing suites’ hardware may be state of the art, but the battered wooden furniture (Waller purchased much of it on expeditions to the Brimfield Fair) is decidedly low tech. There’s even an example of that most retro of information-technology equipment, a blackboard. Stained-glass windows, vintage signs, and widespread clutter add to the cheerfully Luddite counter-aesthetic.

Waller, 45, founded Brickyard in 1999. The Emerson graduate named the firm after the Lynn neighborhood where he grew up. Over the past decade Brickyard has steadily expanded. Its staff now numbers around 55, with offices in both Boston and Santa Monica, Calif. Although Brickyard has done the occasional music video and some television work, it’s mostly concentrated on advertising.

The promos running for the NBA playoffs? (In one of them, Larry Bird steals the ball in an empty Boston Garden, which by the time Dennis Johnson scores off a pass from him has morphed into a sold-out Garden.) Brickyard did them. Besides the NBA, other clients include Volvo, Citizens Bank, and LG Phones. “Commercials are our bread and butter,” said Devereaux, whose pre-Brickyard film credits include “X-Men” and “Transformers.”

When the producers of “The Proposal” approached Brickyard about bidding on the film’s effects work, Waller said, it seemed like a natural extension of the firm’s other projects. Providing the effects for a feature film proved more of a challenge than he’d expected, Waller said. “The mistake I made was that it’s a very different process. A lot of the skills are translatable, but there’s a lot of new things about color and working at a much higher resolution. So everything takes longer.”

Also the number of effects shots quadrupled from the time Brickyard was hired and when it finally finished work on “The Proposal,” in late April. Brickyard began its FX work on the film the old-fashioned way: with shoe leather, albeit high-mileage shoe leather. Waller and Brickyard co-owner Geoff McAuliffe flew to Alaska to photograph various sites in Sitka, where much of the movie takes place (it’s where Bullock’s prospective in-laws live).

“I was always wondering why wouldn’t they just go to Sitka if there’s this much to do,” Waller recalled with a laugh. “When I went, I realized that it takes about 24 hours to get there. A lot of times the weather won’t even allow you to fly in at all. There are no A-list hotels for the stars – and not even hotels for the crew.”

The movie was shot in Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-by-the Sea, and Beverly. While far less daunting locales than Sitka, they’re also far less Alaskan. Filming was in April 2008. Visually, Waller said, this “was a little confusing, since [the filmmakers] wanted leaves on the trees. There aren’t a lot pine trees there, anyway, and the coastline is really built up. I think they just didn’t figure there’d be as much landscape stuff as there turned out to be.”

That’s where all those FX shots came in. Bullock and co-stars Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, and Betty White didn’t have to endure blasts, crashes, or other standard computer-generated uproar. The only shot attentive viewers might suspect was computer-generated – and they’d be right – is of an eagle snatching up a dog. Otherwise, it’s all a matter of turning scenes familiar to Deval Patrick into scenes familiar to Sarah Palin.

“We take the original photography,” Devereaux explained. “We make these gray areas a little bluer. Put in a nice big mountain. A lot of this tree work. Adding in information here, just filling things out a bit.” That might sound straightforward enough. But CGI, like God, is in the details – especially the follicular details.

“We had to handcut every frame, very fussy stuff,” Waller said. “Even people’s hair. We love Betty White – except we don’t love her hair.”

“Aw, man!” Devereaux muttered.

“It’s so flyaway,” Waller said. “All that [background] detail gets lost.”

“That was one of the bigger challenges on this film,” Devereaux said, “her hair. Its opacity completely changes, depending on what’s behind it.”

If it’s any consolation, hair is low on the list of Brickyard’s concerns on its current film project, “Surrogates.” The futuristic fantasy, which stars Bruce Willis, is so special-effects heavy Brickyard is sharing the assignment with three other different companies. “It’s the opposite of the Sandra Bullock movie,” Devereaux said. “It’s robots and explosions and helicopter crashes.”

Posted in Article | Comments Off on A movie boom’s special effect

YouTube: Trailer for SHUTTER ISLAND – opens 2/19/10

SHUTTER ISLAND, shot in Massachusetts in 2008, opens in theaters nationwide on February 19, 2010.

Posted in Video | Comments Off on YouTube: Trailer for SHUTTER ISLAND – opens 2/19/10

Plymouth studios won’t get $50m in state bond funds

By Christine Legere
Boston Globe
June 11, 2009

PLYMOUTH – Plymouth Rock Studios will not get an expected $50 million in state bond money to build the access road to its multimillion-dollar movie studio.

A state spokeswoman said the company’s application was denied because the project will not produce enough in tax revenue to cover the bond payments under the new infrastructure investment incentive program known as I-Cubed.

Plymouth Rock officials, however, plan to forge ahead with private money that has been committed to the project. According to the company’s real estate manager, Bill Wynne, heavy machinery should be digging the road to the studio site on the 240-acre Waverly Golf Course within a month or two. The studio is projected to open in late 2010. “Obviously we were disappointed and frustrated by the news, but we’ll make it work anyway,” Wynne said yesterday. “It’s too bad it took the state 18 months to figure it out.”

In a written statement, Cyndi Roy, communications director for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, said:”Under the I-Cubed program, it must be demonstrated that prospective projects will generate enough net new tax revenue to pay for the bonds that would be issued by the state in connection with the project. Based on the Department of Revenue’s analysis, this project will not meet that requirement.”

Plymouth Rock and the town’s legislative delegation said they were told the state denied the bond money because the film industry might be getting too large a slice of the state-aid pie. “I was told that because of the tax-credit avenues available to film production, the I-Cubed money was not allowed to go to this,” said Plymouth Rock’s chief financial officer, Joe DiLorenzo, who spoke to the state’s undersecretary of administration and finance, Jay Gonzales, yesterday. He said Gonzales promised that state officials would look for other ways to support the project.

State Representative Vinnie deMacedo, Republican of Plymouth, said the secretary of economic development, Gregory Bialecki, told Plymouth’s legislative delegation “to look at the big picture.” “I’m deeply saddened and disappointed,” said Selectman Butch Machado.”I thought this was a great and unique opportunity.”

Christine Legere can be reached at christinelegere@yahoo.com

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Plymouth studios won’t get $50m in state bond funds

GenArts links with Lucasfilm

Software maker, studio form strategic bond

By DAVID S. COHEN
Variety
June 8, 2009

Lucasfilm and software maker GenArts have formed a strategic relationship aimed at improving visual effects production and vidgame graphics. GenArts makes popular visual effects software, including plug-ins for Autodesk’s Inferno and Flame.

Under the agreement, the two companies will share resources for developing software tools. GenArts engineers will work on-site at Lucasfilm’s San Francisco HQ, building tools as needed to meet the demands of the company’s vfx artists and animators.

Lucas Animation and visual effects studio Industrial Light & Magic have adopted GenArts plug-ins as part of their standard compositing pipeline.

“GenArts wanted to get feature-film quality into other areas, like games, and that’s what we’re about at ILM,” said Richard Kerris, ILM’s chief technical officer.

ILM’s only other such strategic relationship is with software giant Autodesk. It’s the first such partnership for GenArts.

Posted in Article | Comments Off on GenArts links with Lucasfilm

‘Proposal’ movie a hit with Cape Ann previewers

By Gail McCarthy
Gloucester Times
June 6, 2009

BOSTON — “Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to laugh.”

Those comments sum up some early reviews from a preview screening of Walt Disney’s “The Proposal” Thursday night at the Tremont Street AMC theater, and to which several Cape Ann residents were invited, including those who worked on or assisted in its filming here last year.

A good chunk of the film was shot in Rockport, where the downtown was transformed into the town of Sitka, Alaska. Large totem poles stood tall in Dock Square and the usual storefronts and street pole banners became signs or symbols from Sitka in April 2008. But parts of the film were shot in Gloucester as well as at a private seaside mansion in Manchester.

The film, which stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, tells the tale of a high-powered publishing executive, played by Bullock, who tries to avoid deportation to Canada because her visa has expired by intimidating her younger assistant, played by Reynolds, to marry her.

“It was a lot funnier than I expected it to be,” said Darin Gibbons, 23, who was invited by a friend. “I don’t know if I would have chosen to go, but after seeing it, the movie was definitely entertaining. It’s a good date movie and it’s not overly sappy. I expected a chick flick, but it was really more of a comedy.”

Matt Webber, also 23, echoed his friend’s thoughts. “I originally went because of all the Rockport scenes. It’s always fun to see that. But it was actually surprisingly funny,” Webber said. “Ryan Reynolds is pretty funny from a guy’s perspective. I enjoyed it overall. It didn’t follow the usual romance movie story line. It had a lot of twists and turns.”

The film also stars Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Malin Akerman and Craig T. Nelson. Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, told the crowd of about 300 that his office is “thrilled at this picture — for a variety of reasons.” He thanked Gov, Deval Patrick and the Legislature for approving tax credits for the movie industry. “None of this would have happened without their support and that’s why pictures keep coming, and this is only the beginning,” he said.

He expressed particular gratitude to the Walt Disney Company, which has shot four major films here since 2006, when the credits went into effect. “The ‘Mouse’ and Massachusetts make a nice marriage,” he said. What makes “The Proposal” of particular interest, he noted, is that it has nothing to do with Massachusetts. “That’s a big deal,” said Paleologos. “When Hollywood looks at a script that’s not set in Boston or doesn’t have a scene from the Fenway or other local spots, and yet it gets filmed here — that’s big.”

“We’re now getting movies set in New York and Alaska,” he noted. “Our reputation for film is getting bigger and better.”
In 2005, one movie at $6 million was filmed in the commonwealth. In 2006, there were two projects at $61 million. In 2008, there were 13 projects at $359 million. And a number of movies are in the works in 2009 — including the Adam Sandler film, “Grown Ups,” which is now being shot in Essex.

Peter Webber, the manager of the Rockport division of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, gave the film high marks.
“I really enjoyed the movie,” he said. “In addition to enjoying it as a movie, it was fun seeing all the Rockport scenes. There were just some postcard perfect shots of Rockport Harbor and Bearskin Neck that were quite recognizable.”
Webber noted that Motif No. 1, an iconic Rockport harbor image, was prominent but transformed with a Sitka sign in place of the lobster buoys that adorn its outer wall. Webber and others also noted the snow-capped “special effect” mountain peaks that became the background for the otherwise sea-level town of Rockport.

Ted and Deborah Barnes, owners of Freedom Diving in Gloucester, gave the film two thumbs up. “It is a lot of fun watching it and I got to see the buoy in there that I built for the film,” said Ted Barnes. “It’s interesting to see how it all comes together with the props, and after all the cutting and editing is finally done.” Barnes, a native of Newfoundland, said he related to the feeling of being an immigrant in another country, but of course, in a far different manner. He has built a few props for about a half dozen films since the 1970s.

“I had some serious laughing moments,” said Tobin Arsenault, vice president of the Cape Ann Marina resort, who sat with her buddies who worked on the movie. The film crew rented some boat equipment from the marina. The Boston debut of the film also brought back memories for Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, though she said yesterday she was unable to attend the premiere screening.

She was driving to Rockport last year to speak at the Rockport Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner, having set out from Boston armed with specific driving directions. She followed them exactly, and sensed she was on the right track, right down to making the proper turn toward Dock Square, which is in the center of town. But she confronted an unexpected sign. “I was coming along, thought I was in the right place, and then I came to this sign that said, ‘Welcome to Sitka,'” Walker related. “I thought ‘Sitka’? I thought I was in Rockport. What happened to Rockport?”
Walker, however, was indeed in Rockport; She quickly realized what had happened, and was pleased to see that part of Rockport’s downtown had become a virtual movie set, showing the town was serious about pursuing culture-based economic development.

Gail McCarthy can be reached at gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com

Posted in Article | Comments Off on ‘Proposal’ movie a hit with Cape Ann previewers

Legislative report suggests that film tax credits work

PA film tax credit study

Posted in Article | Comments Off on Legislative report suggests that film tax credits work

WGBH-TV 2: Greater Boston visits the set of THE LIGHTKEEPER

May 27, 2009 — WGBH’s Greater Boston with Emily Rooney takes a closer look at the filming of THE LIGHTKEEPER, directed by Dan Adams on Cape Cod.

Posted in Video | Comments Off on WGBH-TV 2: Greater Boston visits the set of THE LIGHTKEEPER