News & Events

Plymouth Rock Studios spotlights jobs

By Sarah Shemkus
Cape Cod Times
September 25, 2008

PLYMOUTH — Hollywood hasn’t come to town quite yet, but the hundreds of people who flocked to Plymouth South High School last night are ready and waiting for its arrival.

“I’m enthralled with the idea of having a movie studio come to Massachusetts,” Plymouth resident Conni DiLego said. “I think it’s an exciting adventure.”

DiLego was part of an enthusiastic and unexpectedly large crowd that filled the high school auditorium to attend Jobs on the Lot, a presentation about the jobs that would be created by the proposed Plymouth Rock Studios.

A half-hour before the event was scheduled to begin, lines stretched down the sidewalk and around the corner. When the doors opened, 400 people were admitted. At least as many were turned away with guarantees of entrance to one of the future presentations, scheduled for October and November, said Bob Melley, director of business relations for the studio.

“It’s surprising,” he said of the crowd. “We’re very excited about the support we’ve been shown by the community.”

The plans for the $422 million Plymouth Rock Studios include 14 sound stages, office buildings, post-production facilities, a 900-seat theater, restaurants, a visitor’s center, and a 10-acre back lot.

The studio is to be built on land currently owned and occupied by the Waverly Oaks Golf Club.

Studio organizers estimate construction, maintenance and operations of the new facility would generate 2,000 jobs with a total payroll of $150 million.

Peter Fleury, the studio’s executive director of operations, assured attendees that the positions would be open to local residents. “There have been rumors that there is going to be some massive Los Angeles relocation,” he said. “I just want to knock down those rumors right now — that’s not going to happen.”

In a presentation punctuated by film clips, representatives from the studio outlined the three main categories of jobs that would be available: construction, staff and operations, and production.

Construction, which is expected to begin in spring 2009 and continue until summer 2010, could employ as many as 200 tradesmen in union jobs, said presenter Scott Gustafson, regional organizing coordinator for the Laborers Union.

Plans are in the works, he said, to form a collaborative between the studio and the high school’s vocational programs.

“We’re going to give (the students) good wages and the best benefits you can find,” he said, to resounding applause.

Staff and operations jobs include employees needed to keep the studio running on a daily basis from accountants to maintenance workers.

Production jobs include positions involved in the filmmaking process such as hair styling, make-up and camera operations. Minimum weekly salaries for production jobs would range from $700 to more than $3,000, according to figures presented last night. Some positions had an earnings potential of more than $250,000 per year.

Across town, Plymouth’s advisory and finance committee last night discussed a town meeting warrant article calling for the creation of a special zoning district to facilitate the development of the studio. The committee was scheduled to vote on whether to recommend the article. As of the Times’ press deadline, the results of the vote were not available.

‘Jobs on the Lot’ events

Dates: Oct. 15 and Nov. 11
Time: 7 to 10 p.m.
Place: Plymouth South High School

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Mass Film Office bringing the stars to the area

Newburyport Daily News
By Katie Farrell

September 22, 2008

MERRIMAC — It’s not every day that a major Hollywood production is filmed on the North Shore. But with Matthew McConaughey, Michael Douglas and Mel Gibson in our midst this summer, it becomes clear those days are becoming more common.

As “Edge of Darkness,” starring Mel Gibson continues shooting this week in Merrimac on River Road, the possibility of more star sightings and movie crews in local communities continues to build. But how does a Mel Gibson decide that the Rocks Village bridge in Merrimac would be the perfect setting for his film?

It starts with a call to the Mass. Film Office.

With much of the film being shot in Northampton, the company was looking for a site that resembles the Connecticut River — which the Merrimack does. Nick Paleologos, the executive director of the Mass. Film Office, said he’s proud that Hollywood isn’t just coming to the state and just staying in Boston. “It isn’t just Boston, it’s everywhere, and that’s the most gratifying part of this,” he said, adding that the “Edge of Darkness” has also filmed in Deerfield, Taunton and Beverly, among other places. “It’s everywhere, and the more, the merrier.”

Seventeen major productions have shot in Massachusetts in less than three years. Several more are in production. North Shore locations have included Ipswich, North Andover, Rockport, Gloucester, Marblehead and Plum Island. “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” was filmed at the Crane Estate in Ipswich earlier this summer, starring McConaughey and Douglas. An independent film dubbed “The Jones” filmed around Newburyport.

Paleologos said his office works with producers in finding appropriate scenes and film-friendly places throughout the state. Once a script is determined to be right for filming in Massachusetts, his office will break the script down into locations — whether it’s a seacoast town, an urban city or a suburb — and choose places in that region where shooting could occur. They then send photographs of different sites to the producers. “Where they select is wholly their decision,” Paleologos said. “It’s all up to the eye of the director. They’ve got a certain thing in mind.”

To determine shooting locations, the office works with the movie’s location scout. “Eventually, they’ll settle on a handful of locations, then the director will come out and spend a day or two in the state, going to those places,” he said. “If they like what they see in person, that’s when they make their final decision.”

The competition can be tough, Paleologos said, adding that if a seacoast town is what the producers are looking for, they could be looking at 3 or 4 different states. One big part of what is making the state more attractive to Hollywood these days, however, is its new tax credit program. Studios, major producers and filmmakers, who shoot at least half of their movie or spend at least half of their production budget in the state, are eligible for a tax credit equal to 25 percent of their total spending in Massachusetts, inclusive of any salaries over $1 million.
But they can’t just pick and choose their spot. To shut down roads and impact the local environment, town officials are involved too.

Since the filming in Merrimac is being done on a river and will involve a scene where a car drives off the road and into the Merrimack River, the town’s conservation office had to agree to it. Robert Prokop, chairman of the Merrimac Conservation Commission, said the town’s conservation agent was first contacted over the summer. The town has since been in discussions with the location manager, the director and the stunt coordinator, even meeting them at the scene to go over the area beforehand. They can’t just tear up the local landscape.

“We set them specifications of what they could and couldn’t do,” Prokop said. The crew can’t cut down any trees or shrubs, for instance. The car that enters the river won’t have any fluids — or even an engine — inside. The car can’t be pulled out along the bank and must be taken out via a crane or from a boat ramp. “We felt that no damage was going to occur,” Prokop said.

It’s important for a location to be “film-friendly,” Paleologos said, and that there aren’t a lot of obstacles to the shooting. Once in a city or a town, the company does spend money, he said, adding that they buy supplies, visit the merchants and use the hotels. Often, if they want to use a particular place — like a ball field— they might fix it up or make any necessary improvements, something that is welcomed by communities during tough fiscal times.
“A lot of that is going on,” Paleologos said.

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Planning board unanimously recommends movie studio bylaw

Unanimous vote surprises many at planning meeting

By Tamara Race
The Patriot Ledger
September 16, 2008

PLYMOUTH — Unanimous planning board support for a movie and television production zone on the Waverly Oaks golf course property surprised many of the more than 100 residents who have followed the process for months.

Many thought it would only squeak by on a 3-2 vote with Malcolm MacGregor and Lawrence Rosenblum opposing. But both sided with Paul McAlduff, William Wennerberg and Marc Garrett in voting to recommend Monday night that town meeting approve the zoning bylaw Oct. 27.

“I was surprised because Lawrence Rosenblum openly opposed us,” Plymouth Rock Studios founder David Kirkpatrick said. “That (Rosenblum’s support) was a shocker.”

Kirkpatrick said his company was still willing to make changes to the bylaw if necessary to make the studio project a reality.

Rosenblum says he’s not opposed to the project but wants to see it done right.

“I love the concept,” he said. “It’s an unusual opportunity with potential benefits great enough to make it worth stretching for. If we can pull this off, Plymouth will have the roots of a very, very exciting future.”

MacGregor said doesn’t care to see movie stars walking through America’s Hometown, but he set aside his personal feelings during the review process.

While he wanted maximum building heights reduced by 10 feet and fewer housing units, they were not make-or-break issues for his support.

Putting traffic and road improvements into a special permit process made the rest of the bylaw easier to deal with, he said.

Kirkpatrick wants to build a movie and television production studio on the 240-acre Waverly Oaks site on Long Pond Road about a mile northwest of Clark Road and Exit 3 of Route 3.

The project would include 14 sound stages, a hotel, a screening theater, a village center, an education center and housing for artists.

Neighbor Joe DeSilva said he is concerned that the project would disrupt the rural quiet of Long Pond Road with excessive noise and traffic.

He and others, including town meeting member William Abbott, say the bylaw should require a phased approach to ensure neighbors are protected if noise and traffic projections are wrong.

Studio officials say they may build the project in phases, but want it permitted with one site-plan review.

Multiple discretionary reviews midway through construction are unacceptable, Plymouth Rock Studios development coordinator William Wynne said.

The project needs zoning approval from town meeting in October, subsequent special permits for traffic and road improvements, an agreement with selectmen guaranteeing the roadwork and state environmental permits.

Tamara Race may be reached at trace@ledger.com.

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Metal band films video at Orpheum

By DON CUDDY
New Bedford Standard-Times
September 15, 2008

NEW BEDFORD — The Orpheum Theater stage saw a lot of acts during its heyday from 1912 to 1958, when it closed its doors, but none like the band that took the stage on Sunday. The theater’s ambience went from historic to headbanger when Unearth, a Boston heavy metal band, blew the cobwebs away while filming a music video for the MTV2 show called “Headbanger’s Ball.”

Cameras, sound booms, lighting equipment and cables crowded the area in front of the stage as the old walls reverberated to the thunderous sounds. “It’s really cool here, it’s dusty and kind of dilapidated,” vocalist Trevor Phipps said as the band paused during filming. “We tour all the time but we’ve never been in New Bedford before.”

The band had been seeking a suitable location for the video of the song “My Will Be Done” to promote its upcoming album, “The March,” its fourth, on Metal Blade records. The album will be released next month.

For the past 10 years, the band has toured extensively both here and overseas, and has played throughout Europe, including in Russia, and in Australia and Japan, according to Mr. Phipps. The band’s video production company, MyGoodEye of Brooklyn, N.Y., initiated the search for a location. “The band is based in Boston, so first we called film commissions in all the Northeast states. The Massachusetts Film commission told us New Bedford was film-friendly,” video producer Allison Woest said. “We contacted the city and they were very helpful. They sent us some pictures and we really liked this location. “Actually, it’s even better than the pictures. This band has a huge sound and they needed a big space to match that visually. This place is massive and the way it looks fits right in with metal.”

City tourism director Anne Marie Lopes coordinated the band’s visit and obtained permission to use the theater. “They really liked all the features here that are original,” she said. “You really can’t find another venue this unique.”

The exposure will help the city in its efforts to promote itself as an attractive location for any type of production. “Just in the past year we’ve had a 19th century PBS special, the contemporary film shot at On a Roll recently, and now we have heavy metal. It’s all good news for New Bedford,” she said.

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MASS VOTERS SUPPORT FILM CREDITS

by Leslie Brokaw
Boston Sunday Globe
September 14, 2008

Public opinion is tilting strongly toward the initiatives of the Massachusetts Film Office to bring more filmmaking to the state: Almost two thirds of state voters polled last month say the tax credits for production companies are a good thing.

Here is the exact wording of the question: “A recent tax credit for movie companies has resulted in 14 movies made in Massachusetts in the past 12 months. Proponents say the tax credit is good because it brings added jobs and new money into the state. Opponents say that a tax credit for movie companies is bad policy because it costs the state more than it is worth, given other state programs that need revenue. Which is closer to your view?”

Sixty-three percent said the credits are good, 22 percent said they’re bad, and 15 percent were undecided.

The question was put to 400 registered voters statewide by 7NEWS/Suffolk University.

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Plymouth Rock Studios scores hit with townspeople

Studio officials show residents how 30- to 40-foot-high, tree-lined earthen berms that would screen any view of studio sound stages and mute any noise from inside.

By Tamara Race
GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Aug 26, 2008

PLYMOUTH — Plymouth Rock Studios officials wowed planners and residents and did it without special effects, stunts, song or dance.

Studio officials showed residents how 30- to 40-foot-high, tree-lined earthen berms along Long Pond Road and Bump Rock Road would screen any view of studio sound stages and mute any noise from inside.

They also gave an overview of their intended design strategies for the entire Plymouth Rock Studios site.

Alex Fernandes, architectural designer for Plymouth Rock Studios’ design firm Gensler Associates presented a video montage of his design ideas and inspirations to make the world class studio a unique destination nationally and internationally.

The presentations drew praise from both planners and residents.

“This was a terrific presentation,” planning board member Malcolm MacGregor said. “I hope we can fashion the regulations and laws to make it a reality.”

“It was magnificent,” board member Paul McAlduff said. “That’s what we want from you: magnificence.”

Leon Lopes, who lives a mile north of the studio’s proposed Waverly Oaks Golf Course site was equally impressed.

“I think this was a turning point in the process,” he said. “Everyone in the room was stunned. It’s the first time we really got to see what things might look like.”

Lopes hoped the presentation would begin to win over critics of the project.

“No one could not like what they saw here tonight,” town meeting member and chairman of the precinct chair committee, Paul Luszcz, said. “Their intentions are wonderful. Now we have to write the laws that will reflect that intention.”

Luszcz said the debate over a special-permit versus allowed-use process still rages.

“I know it can happen,” he said. “And they (studio officials) have expressed a willingness to do so, but we still have a long way to go.”

Building the screening berms will mean moving lots of dirt on the site, but will not require any import or export of fill, Studio development director William Wynne told planning officials and the crowd of about 60 people.

Studio officials also intend to sink the large sound stage buildings into the ground making them virtually invisible from Long Pond Road.

“I think we listened to the concerns of the Planning Board and neighbors and addressed them intelligently and artistically,” Plymouth Rock Studios founder David Kirkpatrick said.

Planning Board members will vote their recommendation on the proposed studio zoning bylaw Sept. 15.

Town meeting Oct. 27, will have final approval.

Planning board members will meet Wednesday, Sept. 3, Sept. 8 and Sept. 10 prior to the Sept. 15 vote.

Tamara Race may be reached at trace@ledger.com.

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Hub of the film industry: ‘Big Screen Boston’ chronicles city’s starring roles

By Ed Symkus
GateHouse News Service
Aug 18, 2008

BOSTON —The folks in the movie business aren’t kidding when they refer to Boston and its environs as Hollywood East. That moniker was given to Toronto for a while, but new tax incentives and some eager folks in the Massachusetts Film Office have been luring more and more productions to our fair state.

Over the past year, films shot in and around Boston (but not yet released) include: “The Women” (Meg Ryan, Candice Bergen), “Pink Panther 2” (Steve Martin, Emily Mortimer), “My Best Friend’s Girl” (Kate Hudson, Alec Baldwin), “Real Men Cry” (Ethan Hawke, Mark Ruffalo) and “The Surrogates” (Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell).



But this is hardly a new phenomenon. As pointed out in Paul Sherman’s new book “Big Screen Boston” (Black Bars Publishing, $18.95), the Hub has been a, well, hub, for film production for decades. The well-researched book, chockfull of entertaining tidbits and pieces of actor- and director interviews that Sherman has conducted over the years, runs the gamut between huge hits and deservedly forgotten items, as well as some gems that have unfortunately fallen through the cracks.

So there’s plenty of information about “Good Will Hunting,” “Love Story” and “The Departed” (hits), “Blown Away,” “Fuzz” and “The Next Karate Kid” (misses), and “Charley,” “The Little Sister” and “Monument Ave” (cracks).



Sherman, a former reviewer and president of the Boston Society of Film Critics, did a lot of movie-watching while researching the book.

“It was between what local libraries had and what Netflix had and what I could get from the filmmakers themselves,” he says. “But so many of the movies never came out. [former Coolidge Corner Theatre artistic director] David Kleiler has all of the videos that people had given him, so I borrowed a bunch from him.

“So that’s how I spent last summer,” he adds. “Re-watching all of these movies, and seeing some of the ones I hadn’t seen for the first time.”

Asked if he watched every film in the book, he admits to having seen “all of the main ones and a lot of others.”



But there was plenty of other research to do.

“I did searches on the Internet Movie Database, and any other Internet database I came across,” he says, then adds, “Obviously, there’s a good deal of misinformation out there on the Internet.”

For instance, in his section on the great Paul Newman film “The Verdict,” Sherman mentions that a young Bruce Willis is an extra.

“That’s something I saw on the IMDB,” he says. “I looked at that scene really closely because I was a little skeptical. Every little thing like that online you have to be skeptical about. But when I watched the movie, I said, ‘Oh yeah, there he is.’ ”



Sherman had only one hard-and-fast rule for a film to make it in the book: It had to have cast members here.

“In ‘Legally Blonde,’ there’s a helicopter shot of a Volkswagen going over the Zakim Bridge, then it cuts to a shot of Reese Witherspoon in a similar looking car, ‘arriving at Harvard,’ but I think it’s really UCLA,” he explains. “So something like that did not make it. But with something like ‘The Last Detail,’ where even though there are only two or three scenes, you can tell that they’re here: at Washington St., walking under the old elevated Orange Line. So that’s in it.”



Although it’s meant to be a reference book, Sherman wasn’t afraid to include some good, old-fashioned opinion.

“I like a lot of the little films from the ’90s,” he says. “The first two Jan Egleson movies (“Billy in the Lowlands,” “The Dark End of the Street”) are really good, but I also like ‘Floating’ and ‘Lift’ and ‘The Blinking Madonna.’ ”

He goes so far as to call the gritty Robert Mitchum starrer “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” the “best movie ever made in Boston.”

“I think it is,” he says firmly. “And it has a lot of mystique because it’s never come out officially on any kind of video. So that sort of helps.”

“Big Screen Boston” is available at local book stores and on amazon.com.



Ed Symkus can be reached at esymkus@cnc.com.

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Plymouth Rock Studios’ future hinges on zoning change

By Tamara Race
The Patriot Ledger
Aug 16, 2008

PLYMOUTH — The site has changed, but the mission has not.

Plymouth Rock Studios intends to build a major movie and television production studio in Massachusetts. The company’s preferred site is the Waverly Oaks golf course in Plymouth off Route 3 at exit 3, but the plan hinges on town meeting’s approval of a zoning change in October.
“We want to be on the site with an as-of-right zoning bylaw in November,” studio founder David Kirkpatrick said. “We’d like to start construction next spring and be open for business in September of 2010.”

Kirkpatrick’s development partner Earl Lestz says the company has already ‘‘pre-leased’’ 100,000 square feet of office space in the proposed complex. Kirkpatrick says the potential leases are to production services companies such as equipment and costume firms and recording studios all interested in working on the East Coast. He said they are also talking to the rapidly expanding special effects company, Brickyard vfx, with offices in California and Boston.

The $422 million studio will employ about 150 full time workers, but attract more than 2,000 production-related jobs as the studio is leased to production companies for anything from major motion pictures to television commercials.

Critics say the studio’s schedule is too aggressive and will not give town meeting members enough time to review all the information and make a decision. Several object to an ‘‘allowed use’’ bylaw as opposed to one requiring a special permit process. Town meeting member and precinct chairman William Abbott says eliminating the special permit process circumvents residents rights to protect themselves from the tyranny of the majority.

Voters in May overwhelmingly endorsed the project in a nonbinding ballot question, although the vote was specific to the original site on 1,000 acres of town land off Route 25. That site was abandoned due to title problems. But studio officials say their construction schedule leaves no room for potential appeals that could tie up the project for years. “We’ve already started preleasing space for 2010,” studio development coordinator William Wynne said. “Working backward from that date through the construction process leaves us no room for approval delays. We want to take out that risk of delay.”

The company is committed to giving planning officials and town meeting members the information necessary to warrant an as-of-right zoning bylaw. They are also confident they can alleviate neighbors concerns about noise, light, and traffic. Planned improvements including a new studio access road, a roundabout at Clark Road and Long Pond Road, traffic lights at Route 3 ramp exits on Clark Road, and widening Clark Road will accommodate the expected increase in traffic and correct already failing intersections, according to studio consultants.

Proposed water and sewer work will improve environmental conditions on the site and free-up about 50 acres of nearby school property now restricted as well-protection area. The state will pay for the work with bonds guaranteed by the studio. Business leaders say the project will boost tourism and attract dozens of spin-off companies. Town officials say the project will increase the town’s current $700 million commercial tax base by more than half and help slow anticipated property tax hikes.

Tamara Race may be reached at trace@ledger.com.

Plymouth Rock Studio plan


Highlights of the plan and what the project needs to go forward:

Property ownership: 

Town officials have the right of first refusal when Waverly Oaks golf course is sold because the golf course is recreational land and receives a property-tax break. 

That tax break will end with any zoning change to allow a movie and television production studio.

The conversion will trigger a state law requiring Waverly owner Mark Ridder to notify town officials of the intended sale by submitting the purchase-and-sale-agreement with Plymouth Rock Studios stating the sale price and intended new use. Plymouth Rock Studios will have to pay Plymouth 5 percent of the property’s sale price at the time of closing. 
 


Utilities:
 
A water well on the course has enough capacity for the studio complex and for both Plymouth South High School and Plymouth South Middle School next door. 

Installing a water tank for fire suppression and running water lines through the studio complex and to both high schools would allow town officials to abandon a well on the school property. Getting rid of that well frees 38 acres of well-head protection land that could be used for future school expansion.

Roads:
 
To accommodate increased traffic, studio officials are planning a new access road from Clark Road, running through town conservation land and school property to the golf course site. 

Clark Road will be widened to five or six lanes between the Route 3 south exit ramps and the new access road before narrowing to two lanes into a new roundabout at the intersection of Clark Road and Long Pond Road. 

Traffic lights will be installed where Route 3 south and north ramps intersect with Clark Road and at the new access road. 

The access road will also serve the town’s two schools reducing school bus traffic on Long Pond Road.

Infrastructure costs would be paid through state bonds guaranteed by studio officials. 



Zoning:
 
Town meeting must approve a zoning change to allow studio development in a residential zone.

The planning board must give site plan approval, and there must be signed agreements with selectmen guaranteeing certain infrastructure improvements or special permit approval depending upon zoning language. State environmental permitting is also required

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Trio Join Gibson and De Niro in DARKNESS

By Jarrod Sarafin
Hollywood Reporter
August 15, 2008

Leading stars Mel Gibson and Robert De Niro have some new cast members to welcome on board in their upcoming thriller Edge of Darkness. Danny Huston, Shawn Roberts (Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead) and Bojana Novakovic have joined the Martin Campbell-directed project, which is based on a screenplay by William Monahan and Andrew Bovell. Graham King and Michael Wearing are set to produce and production is set to begin later this month in Massachusetts.

Plot Concept: The film centers on a veteran cop (Gibson) whose only grown-up child (Novakovic) is murdered on the steps of his home. The cop unearths his daughter’s secret life and discovers a world of corporate cover-ups and government collusion. Huston takes on the role of a shady businessman while Roberts will play the role of the daughter’s distraught boyfriend. Robert De Niro has been cast as a CIA cleaner.

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Newburyport’s River Merrimac Bar and Grille goes Hollywood

By Bill O’Connor
Georgetown Record
Aug 15, 2008

NEWBURYPORT – If you haven’t checked out The River Merrimac Bar and Grille yet, then you’re first look at the new restaurant on Water Street in Newburyport could be coming via a cineplex near you. Tuesday night the restaurant, which opened this past April, played host to the cast and crew of Bjort Productions’ new feature film “The Joneses,” which wrapped shooting with one of the movie’s most climactic scenes set in The River Merrimac’s second-floor dining room.

“The Joneses,” which is being directed by local filmmaker Chris Tyrrell, is a black comedy concerning two neighboring couples that become engaged in a deadly game of one-upmanship.
“The premise is basically keeping up with the Joneses,” Tyrrell said. “It’s about two neighbors, two couples, and they’re so competitive with each other that they basically start sabotaging each other’s lives … it’s funny and it’s quirky, and it’s the type of film that is usually pretty popular in the independent film scene and at film festivals.”

Ken Tache of Salem, who co-owns The River Merrimac Bar and Grille with his son, executive chef Michael Tache of Newburyport, was thrilled not only to have Tyrrell and the crew at the restaurant, but also at the chance to be a part of a feature film. “About a month ago, Chris came up and said they were considering this place to do a romantic dinner scene in,” Tache said. “They were looking around the area at different places at the time, and then a couple weeks later they came back and said, ‘We’d like to do it here.’”

Tache happily obliged, and on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. the upstairs dining room was transformed into a working movie set complete with lighting, cameramen and a few lucky patrons who were allowed to stay and watch the show. “The Joneses” was co-written by Tyrrell and his wife, Stacey Cruwys, who is also acting in the film, playing Suzanne, a manipulative and scheming alpha woman who always gets her way. The script was originally written in 2002 for HBO’s “Project Greenlight,” a show produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that gave writers the chance to submit scripts to be reviewed for production, with the best script being made into a full-length feature.

“Essentially we wrote these scripts, and then we started thinking a few years ago, no one here in Boston is probably going to pay for us to try and make these, so maybe we should try and make one ourselves,” Tyrrell said. So, in 2005, Tyrrell and Cruwys filmed and produced “Naughty or Nice,” a Christmas-themed comedy, under Bjort Productions, a company that they and a friend had founded the late ‘90s. “The Joneses” is the company’s second full-length feature.

The film’s cast is made up of mostly local area actors. Cruwys, originally from Saugus, and James Shalkoski Jr. of Georgetown play the two leads, with Tony Wright and Amy Ulrich, who both relocated to Boston to pursue acting careers, playing their respective spouses. “I went down to grad school in New Jersey. I had no plans of living in this area at all,” Shalkoski said. “I actually had plans to move out to L.A., but it kind of got diverted because there’s a whole tax incentive for filmmakers to make films in Massachusetts.”

Shalkoski points out that due to new film-friendly tax laws, more Hollywood productions and independent films are shooting in Massachusetts, meaning more work for young actors, such as himself. “It’s like, we’re shooting in one town one day, and Bruce Willis is shooting in the next town over,” he said. Since “The Joneses” deals with two couples competing to have the best of everything, Tyrrell and company were looking for an elegant restaurant setting in which to film this crucial scene between the movie’s two main characters. Newburyport was immediately one of the locations they began considering.

“Newburyport itself is such a beautiful town,” Tyrrell said. “We wanted something that looked really nice and we had been looking for a long time; [The River Merrimac Bar and Grille] just had a really great feel for all of us.” Tache is understandably pleased with the selection of his restaurant as the location for the shoot, and hopes that customers will take notice, coming to see for themselves what Tyrrell saw in The River Merrimac Bar and Grille. “You know, it’s flattering,” Tache said. “You spend all this time thinking about the way you want this place to look, what mood you want to create, and [the cast and crew] found this place to be a place for a romantic dinner scene, it’s flattering.”

Tyrrell and Cruwys will begin post-production and editing on “The Joneses” this weekend. The pair hope to submit the film to a plethora of national and local film festivals upon its completion, in addition to setting up screenings locally in the Boston area. As for Tache and The River Merrimac Bar and Grille, there are currently no plans for future movie shoots set in the restaurant, but … when Hollywood comes knocking, the River Merrimac Bar and Grille will be there, ready and waiting to be discovered again.

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Get in on the action

By Erin Trahan
Boston Globe
August 11, 2008

Admit it: You’re a little obsessed.

And a little proud. Your backyard is suddenly the setting for multiplex movies like “21″ and Oscar winners like “The Departed.” Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson, and Bruce Willis have been in town lately, hanging out at bars you’ve been to, shops you’ve been in, and gyms where you work out.

Thanks to tax credits that are making it more attractive to film in Massachusetts, the area is becoming a hotbed of moviemaking. Eight movies already have been at least partly filmed here in 2008. So maybe now, instead of simply charting celebs’ every move in the entertainment news, you want a firsthand peek at them.

The region is teeming with opportunities to become more intimately acquainted with film production. But you’re not alone if you don’t know where to begin.

The first rule of order is to understand that filmmaking is a serious and expensive business. And be warned: The bigger the budget, the bigger the barrier to getting on set. You shouldn’t try to wander onto a set off the street without preparation or a reason for being there.

“It’s bad business,” said Joe Maiella, president of the Massachusetts Production Coalition, a nonprofit founded to grow media production in the state. “Sets are very busy places. If you want to qualify for it, you have to have relationships and training. You have to have talent.”

With that in mind, here are some tips for taking that first step onto a set:

Be an extra

Working as an extra is one of the easiest ways to get a glimpse behind the scenes, says Carolyn Pickman, owner of C.P. Casting. First-timers can up their chances by taking an acting class, having a professional head shot taken, joining casting agencies’ mailing lists, attending open casting calls, and gaining experience on small productions, she said.
Caroline Gulde of Chelmsford tried to get work as an extra by e-mailing her headshot and resume to local casting agencies, and landed a job as a stand-in for actor Lacey Chabert. Gulde spent two months on the set of “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” and earned a Screen Actors Guild card, which could open doors for future roles.

“I didn’t know what the heck being her stand-in entailed at all,” said Gulde, whose job was to wait patiently while the director and director of photography discussed lighting and blocked shots. The experience, she said, “demystified the movies” for her. “I don’t think anyone realizes how much detail goes into every shot. I have a newfound respect for actors. Every part of it is such hard work.”

Work as a PA

Fetching coffee can also demystify the glamour of movies. That’s what’s expected of entry-level crew members, otherwise known as production assistants, or PAs. PAs are hired either as day laborers or for the duration of a shoot. Their duties, most of which can be learned quickly, can shift at the whim of their supervisor. And everyone on set is a PA’s supervisor.
Marc Colucci, a former PA who now works as an assistant director, recently spoke to 19 eager college students hoping to break into the Boston production scene. “If you hear someone say it’s a 10-hour day, it’s a 12-hour day for you . . . if you’re lucky,” he said. Colucci ran through a litany of duties: setting up craft services and the “video village” (for video playback), loading equipment, handing out walkie-talkies, and keeping the set clean. PAs must also anticipate needs, keep their mouths shut, smile a lot, and ignore the inevitable abuse.

Colucci suggests that anyone who wants to work as a PA should have business cards made, and offer to work for free on student films and low-budget productions. Job opportunities are advertised on Craigslist.org, Mandy.com, and NewEnglandFilm.com (full disclosure: I edit the site’s magazine). Once you have a job on a set, you should start asking around for your next job.

Spin your skills

People with experience in landscaping, construction, sewing, painting, office administration, accounting, catering, or electrical work can contribute important work to film productions. Maiella said plans are underway for an apprenticeship program for people whose skills can help meet the growing demand for crew in the state.
You could also work for an equipment dealer or rental company. As a sales agent for Barbizon Lighting Company in Woburn, Dan Aronovitz delivered lighting equipment, offered technical assistance, and helped with set up on the sets of “Ashecliffe,” “The Proposal,” “Bride Wars,” “Mall Cop,” “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” and “The Surrogates.” He doesn’t always work during the filming, but he has gotten to watch sets being built. His advice: Build a reputation as a reliable PA and then become an expert in one particular area.

Loan your location

Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, is developing a database of homes, businesses, and properties of people who want productions in their backyard. People interested in loaning places should send him details and photos of the location. Keep in mind, though, that filming on location means heavy trucks, lots of equipment, and people will be there for the duration. And if the movie becomes popular, your home may become a tourist destination.

Lay down cash

One sure way to cut through red tape: get on set by laying down your green. Even film productions with major stars attached can be clamoring for financial backing. A few years ago the New Hampshire Film Office initiated an effort to match financiers with scripts set in the Granite State. Though Massachusetts does not have a formal effort in place to groom executive producers, just whispering “cash on hand” is a guaranteed call for filmmakers of all stripes. You can find projects to finance by attending film festivals to meet filmmakers, researching independent production houses, and placing a call for scripts on local film websites.

Donate to charity

Smaller sums can also do the job. Beacon Hill resident Ilana Leighton got on the set of “The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” – and got a kiss from actor Michael Douglas – by bidding at an auction to benefit her son’s school. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. She expected Douglas would waltz in, do a quick shot, and be out of there. But the 15-second scene – in which Douglas enters a bar (Saint on Exeter Street in Boston), greets Leighton, and kisses her hand – required more than 20 takes. Leighton watched and waited while the crew broke into a different scene. “Then they re-set up for the scene I was in, to shoot from a different angle, which we shot probably another 15 times,” she said.

Erin Trahan is the editor of NewEnglandFilm.com.

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The next act: a film studio for Stoneham?

By Bella Travaglini
Boston Globe
August 10, 2008

A Hollywood-type movie studio in Stoneham?

It’s possible, says Gary DeCicco, a Nahant-based developer who says he wants to buy the dormant Boston Regional Medical Center in Stoneham and convert the 40-plus-acre property into a studio and soundstage for movie productions.

DeCicco, owner of V.L. Realty in Nahant, is working with Laverty Lohnes Properties of Cambridge in a bid to buy the property from its current owner, the Gutierrez Co., and says he already knows a movie production company that would like to sign a lease and move in.

He said last week he could not divulge the name of the California-based movie studio because of a confidentiality agreement. He said the company has recently produced motion pictures in the Boston area and is not Plymouth Rock Studios, which recently announced plans to build a massive production facility at the site of a private golf club in Plymouth.

DeCicco’s plan comes as town officials expressed frustration with the state over the stalled Langwood Commons residential project that was slated for development on the site.

The Gutierrez Co. and Simpson Housing had won local approval to build Langwood Commons, consisting of 405 residential units and 225,000 square feet of office space. Development has been delayed due to opposition from neighbors, parks advocates, and state environmental officials, who last month said that a full environmental review would be required for such a development at the site, which is surrounded by the Middlesex Fells Reservation.

Driving that review was a traffic study and roadway redesign initiated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees the Fells and other nearby parkways. Following opposition to the roadway redesign plans from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Gutierrez Co. withdrew traffic changes to avoid further environmental review.

Last week, Stoneham Town Administrator David Ragucci said the town is considering a lawsuit against the state, saying “it has interfered with the town’s sovereign rights to determine its own future.”

“Here is a project that can generate much-needed revenues, but the state has taken six years to go through the approval process and still [is] not allowing this project to go forward,” he said in an e-mail. “This has cost the town significant revenue.”

In a letter dated July 14 to Ian Bowles, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Selectman Paul Rotondi urged the state to reconsider the decision mandating further Massachusetts Environmental Protection Act review of the housing project.

“The Town of Stoneham has learned this past week that once again a long-awaited project known as the Langwood Commons may be delayed or could be in jeopardy of not being built as a result of state agency action unrelated to the project,” Rotondi said in the letter. “As you may be aware, the Town of Stoneham is struggling like many other communities, and [we] have been looking for ways to pull ourselves out of our financial problems without looking to the state for funding that is difficult to find.”

The state declined to comment on Ragucci’s assertion about sovereign rights, and maintained that the project needs the MEPA review.

“The secretary is sensitive to the concerns expressed by Selectman Rotondi on behalf of the town of Stoneham, but the secretary’s duty is to make sure that all environmental impacts of developments like this one are avoided, minimized, or mitigated to the greatest extent possible,” said Robert Keough, spokesman for Bowles.

In light of the delay in the project, DeCicco said he was encouraged by recent talks he had with Ragucci regarding his plan to buy the property, which abuts Spot Pond on Woodland Road.

DeCicco said the Gutierrez Co. and Simpson Housing both have become “frustrated” with the process of obtaining state approval for their project. “We do know that they [the Gutierrez Co.] would like to sell,” he said.

However, he said he has yet to discuss his proposed purchase with the property owner.

In his initial assessment of the feasibility of building a movie studio, soundstage, and some residential housing for studio employees, DeCicco said he believes traffic flow will be far less of an issue than if the property were turned into a large residential development.

“The movie studio will be tremendous for the community,” DeCicco said.

Still, DeCicco and his partner have yet to have a discussion with state officials about buying the parcel and constructing a movie studio on the site, he said, adding that he must also determine whether such a project would be subject to a MEPA review as well.

Arthur Gutierrez Jr., president of the Gutierrez Co., did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

Bella Travaglini can be reached at bellatrav@gmail.com.

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Developer wants to build South Boston soundstage

By Scott Van Voorhis
Boston Herald
August 7, 2008

Welcome to Southie-wood.

Developer Tim Pappas is floating plans to build an L.A.-style movie production complex on a vacant lot he owns at the corner of West First and E streets, according to state Rep. Brian Wallace (D-South Boston), who was briefed on the proposal.

Pappas, who has dabbled in movie making himself even as he rolls out upscale Southie condo projects, is looking to cash in on the Hub’s new reputuation as a mecca for Hollywood filmmakers.

Massachusetts became a top filming destination after the passage of a bill that provides millions in tax credits for productions that shoot locally.

However, the current boom is limited by the state’s lack of movie production facilities, forcing movie crews and producers to fly back to L.A. after a few weeks or months.

“We highly encourage the cultivation of infrastructure, because that will solidify our position as a leader in film production,” said Rich Krezwick, managing director of the Massachusetts Sports & Entertainment Commission.

The Southie developer’s push comes as two other would-be studio complexes make pitches.

A former top Paramount executive is crafting plans for a massive “Hollywood East” film complex in Plymouth.

Meanwhile, a group of movie industry veterans has proposed building a $300 million complex in South Weymouth, but is now re-evaluating its plans after a hoped-for tax-credit bill fell through on Beacon Hill.

Pappas, by contrast, plans to start off small, with one or two sound stages, with the option to expand if the market demand is there, Wallace reports.

Pappas could not be reached.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who was briefed on the plan, had encouraging words. “He thinks the idea could be viable,” said Dot Joyce, adding the mayor urged Pappas to take his plans to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

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NECN: Mass. tops on Hollywood’s filming list – Aug 08

August 3, 2008

NECN’s “This Week in Business” hosts Paul Guzzi and Nick Nikitas discuss the impact of the film tax credits with Massachusetts Film Office Executive Director Nick Paleologos.

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Boston’s Tinseltown Walk

Movie Buffs Will Savor A Cinematic Stroll Of Beantown That Winds Up At Cheers!

JOANN KLIMKIEWICZ
Hartford Courant
July 24, 2008

Now more than ever, we need a break — an occasional respite from our everyday lives. Yes, a “daycation” — a day spent away from the office or job site, and away from chores, just to relax and play. Once again this summer, we are taking one day a week to suggest a nearby escape. Enjoy!

BOSTON — Our tour guide is about to give us the scoop on John Kerry’s 12-room townhouse, here at the corner of the city’s tony Louisburg Square, when a gray head pops out from the Democratic senator’s ground-floor window, flashing a watering can and a smile.

”Hello,” she says in our direction, tilting the can over a row of windowsill flowers.

We wave awkwardly to this woman we don’t recognize but know for sure is not Teresa Heinz Kerry. Shucks. And then the wobbly, broken window screen slams down.

It startles us; it startles her. And as she fumbles to push it back up, our tour guide — momentarily and uncharacteristically speechless — motions us farther along and out of earshot.

”We’ll just come over here, and I’ll talk really quiet,” Nicole Mayne tells us on this cinematic stroll through the city with Boston Movie Tours.

In a hush, Mayne tells us the house is estimated to be worth $9.8 million. “At least,” she says, her eye on the woman who is now leaning out of a second window, “that’s what’s in my script.” As is the tidbit of how the Kerrys succeeded in having the city move a pesky fire hydrant from their front sidewalk to a less visible spot just around the corner.



But wait — this is a movie tour. Lovely as it is, what’s John Kerry’s house got to do with Boston moviemaking?

Well, nothing, really. It’s the house across the street that brings us here. No. 22, the backdrop for a scene in the 1968 movie “The Boston Strangler.” There it is, looking near exactly the same in Mayne’s handy binder of photo stills — a red-brick building, yellow fire hydrant and all. (Apparently not everyone has the same pull with hydrants as the Kerrys).



Onward we go this Friday afternoon, in search of the next bit of Hollywood history tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Boston’s cobblestoned streets and storied buildings.

It’s a lively 90-minute walking tour that, for $20, tests our knowledge of cinematic trivia while showcasing the city’s past and burgeoning new film scene.

And it is burgeoning. While movies referenced on the tour date back to the 1960s (Think “The Thomas Crown Affair” starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway), the string of movies filmed here in recent years is striking: “Good Will Hunting,” “Mystic River,” “The Departed,” “Fever Pitch,” “Gone, Baby Gone.”



In fact, the tour company reports that Boston has been home to more than 400 movies and television shows. Add to that the seven major movies that have been shot in Massachusetts just this year alone — a boom credited to the aggressive tax incentives the state passed to lure filmmakers — and suddenly it doesn’t seem so crazy that Boston fancies itself Hollywood East.

”Boston is really becoming a movie-making destination,” says Jeff Coveney, who launched the Boston Movie Tours in 2005. “The branding of Boston and Massachusetts is starting to [evolve] as more than just a history-based location. It’s now also a Hollywood- and celebrity-based location.”

Which means Coveney and his roster of six tour guides aren’t lacking for fresh material. They keep up with the reported comings and goings of celebrities, and scout every film crew that rolls into town for new tidbits to infuse into the dozen or so walking and bus tours the company leads in a week.

”As they make more movies, we have more stuff to talk about,” says Mayne, 23, a Massachusetts native and herself an aspiring actress. (Look for her brown, curly ponytail in a stunt scene in the upcoming, Boston-based Kevin James movie, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”)

”And I think what we’re doing kind of goes hand in hand with that. It makes this whole idea of this filming movement that’s coming to Boston — of this Hollywood East — seem a little more permanent.”


Bogus Bucks
We begin our tour in Boston Common, with Mayne first defining for us the term “Boston movie.” On this tour, that could mean one of three things: a movie filmed and set in Boston; a movie filmed in Boston but set elsewhere; or a movie filmed elsewhere but set in Boston.

It’s at this point that she also introduces the concept of Boston movie bucks — bogus money earned for every trivia question answered correctly, with the biggest bucks-holder winning a prize (usually movie tickets or film-industry swag).

We make our way toward Beacon Street, stopping within view of the gold-domed Massachusetts State House. Mayne opens her binder of film stills to one showing a pack of men in rugby uniforms, congregated on the very spot we’re standing.

“The Departed!” says a college-aged guy in our group, visiting from Cleveland with his brother and parents. He’s answering a question that Mayne hasn’t yet asked. But that’s how the game is played, and so she congratulates him and hands him a buck.

” Matt Damon!” he fires again, gesturing to the arrow scrawled on the photo in marker, pointing to one particular player in the scrum.

He shouts a few more movie facts, and before I know it, he’s got a pocketful of bucks. That’s when I realize I’m playing with a significant handicap; I haven’t been to the movies much over the past two years. I need to come up with an alternative buck-building strategy.

We make our way outside the park and to a bronze sculpture depicting a Civil War colonel on horseback. Mayne asks our group if we know who it is.

“Robert Gould Shaw!” I say, reading the inscription on the monument, my palm out to accept my buck.

Mayne shakes her head. “No bucks for reading!”

Then the Cleveland brothers step in. “Glory!” one says, recognizing the statue from the closing credits of the 1989 Civil War film.

Denzel Washington. Morgan Freeman. Matthew Broderick. The brothers clean house, naming the film’s starring actors. We stroll on, my sad little pockets still empty.

We arrive at the nearby Boston Atheneum, an exclusive, members-only library. Mayne gives us a little bit of the Atheneum’s history before opening her binder to a still of two familiar-looking actors hunkered down at a library table, a scene shot just inside the building set at Harvard. The university, she tells us, is averse to letting disruptive film crews on campus.

I feel a swell of excitement. I so know this. It’s on the tip of my tongue, this distinctly mid-90s film — the height of my movie-going. It’s all me.

Brendan Fraser! Joe Pesci! And the movie? Umm. Umm. Oh! “With Honors!”

I happily stuff a trio of bucks into my pocket.

We wind our way through Beacon Hill, seeing the quaint shops, charming alleys and hulking office buildings that appeared in movies such as “The Verdict” and “Blown Away” and in television shows like “Boston Public” and “Ally McBeal.”

Along the way we collect our bucks, and a host of interesting city and cinematic trivia. We arrive at our last site, Cheers! — the standard tourist tavern stop and setting of the popular 1980s sitcom.

We hand over our bucks, and no surprise, the Cleveland brothers cash in with what Mayne tells us is a record number of points earned on any of her tours. Still, the rest of us shlubs don’t exactly go away empty-handed. Our tour pass gives us a discounted meal at the tavern. I don’t care if it is a little cheesy. I elbow my way past the tourists snapping photos under the pub’s famous sign and flash my Boston Movie Tours pass to the host inside like the winner I know I really am.

For more information visit www.bostonmovietours.net

Contact Joann Klimkiewicz at jklimkiewicz@courant.com.

For more photos of scenes from the Boston Movie Tour, visit www.courant. com/bostonmovies

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Lights, camera, shop! Boston boutiques wrapped up in movie boom

Jill Radsken
Boston Herald
July 23, 2008

Lisse Grullemans had her eye on a blue and gold striped dress by Derek Lam, but could only lust in vain. It hung outside her Boston office at Barneys New York for weeks until the costume designer from “The Proposal” came calling.

“They got it for Sandra Bullock,” Grullemans recalled. “She loved it.”

While no one’s filming “The Dress That Got Away,” Hollywood is making more movies around the Hub these days. And the mantra for local store owners is: Come. Film. Shop.

“It’s been wonderful for the city and it’s great for us,” said Grullemans, who, as assistant to the vice president at Barneys, has coordinated pulls for about eight costume designers for everything from Ricky Gervais’ “This Side of the Truth” to the Kate Hudson/Anne Hathaway comedy “Bride Wars.”

Nick Paleologos, director of the Massachusetts Film Office, said eight films already have shot here this year – the total for 2007 – and expects the retail payoff to continue.

“When you think about the low-hanging fruit we’re trying to grab, that’s it,” he said.

At the edgy Newbury Street boutique Stel’s, owner Tina Burgos was playing around with pieces she thought costumer Lindy Hemming might like for “The Edge of Darkness,” the independent film set to star Mel Gibson. Producers have been scouting Boston properties, but Burgos, who helped two costumers during the last year, said most movie business is “luck of the draw.”

“I’m finding it’s a very small industry,” she said. “Part of it is relationships. Hopefully, they’ll recommend us and come back.”

Ursula Stahl, owner of the eco-chic Envi on Newbury St., said her boutique’s entry into Hollywood has been a walk-on role. Still, Jayma Mays, an actress who shot the Kevin James comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” this winter, shopped in the store in March, as did the costumers from “Bride Wars.”

“From what we could gather, it was for Anne Hathaway’s character,” Stahl recalled. “They bought a vegan line of shoes called Beyond Skin and a couple of clothing items.”

Even vintage shops are getting in on the act. Bobby Garnett, owner of Bobby from Boston in the South End, said the bump in local movie-making is prompting him to finally launch a Web site and to advertise in trade publications. Garnett has more than 30 years experience, but his best connections are mostly on the West Coast.

He helped costume designers Sandy Powell and Lisa Padovani on outfits for the cast of Martin Scorcese’s “Ashecliffe.”

“It was mostly stuff like mid- to late-40s. Mostly uniforms. Doctors, patients, orderlies, all that kind of institutional stuff,” Garnett said.

Padovani, who just received her first Emmy nomination for the pilot of “Mad Men,” said she picked out a peacoat and boots and vintage nor’easter hats from Garnett to outfit the principal characters.

“He had a very large-sized raincoat that fit my actor, that worked out really well. Sometimes you can’t get it from rental places because it’s been used so much it falls apart,” she said.

Costumers such as Padovani are a self-sufficient bunch, and retailers said they only offered logistical (alterations, dry cleaning), not stylistic assistance.

“They’re usually on a mission,” said Stel’s Burgos. “They know what they’re looking for.”

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Editorial: Roll film in Berkshires

Editorial
Berkshire Eagle
July 9, 2008

Boston, with films like the Oscar-winning “The Departed,” has become a filmmakers haven, while the Berkshires — well, we’ll always have the forgotten Williamstown-filmed “A Change of Seasons.” With the region’s talent, low costs and natural beauty, however, the Berkshires should be attractive to directors, producers and studios, and it is encouraging that a concerted effort is in place to make them welcome here.

Massachusetts was long behind the curve in bringing filmmakers to the state, but that has changed as the Massachusetts Film Office, under the direction of former legislator Nicholas Paleologos, has become better organized and more aggressive. Mr. Paleologos was in the Berkshires Monday to meet with those in the community who want the county to share in the economic benefits brought by Hollywood. Roughly $500 million has been spent making movies in Massachusetts in the last two years, virtually all of it in Boston and vicinity.

The Berkshire Film and Media Arts Commission appears poised to play a key role in this process. The commission is working on creation of a Berkshire Production Guide, which would do a lot of the drudge work for film companies by providing information on hotel rooms and catering services, accessing necessary trade workers and clearing red tape. The county already has a burgeoning arts community in place to draw from, beautiful locales and far lower costs than Boston.

The movie industry is booming, with the box office take up a remarkable 20 percent from a year ago — which follows a pattern associated with tough economic times that goes back to the Depression. With the economic dividends of movie-making comes the long-term benefits of being immortalized on film as a locale. With the help of the Film Office, the Berkshires should become a movie industry player.

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Patrick: Let cameras roll for Hollywood East

Gov says he welcomes Hollywood to Massachusetts

By Don Conkey
The Patriot Ledger
July 8, 2008

PLYMOUTH — While touting a grant that will award Plymouth close to $1 million for road repairs, Gov. Deval Patrick said he believes Hollywood East will help boost Massachusetts’ place in the national spotlight.

“A little glamour does not hurt us. We can handle that,” Patrick said Monday. “It is calling attention to ourselves. A way for people to know that we are here, and open for business.” Plymouth Rock Studios, informally known as “Hollywood East,” recently struck a deal to buy Waverly Oaks Golf Club in Plymouth as the site for a movie and television production campus.

Patrick said that on a recent trip to California, he came away with the impression from film studio executives “that Massachusetts is very much on their radar screen as a destination for movie production,” as opposed to mainly being thought of only as a place to film movies.

The Legislature increased tax credits for movie and television production companies in an effort to lure the industry here. Movie making has now reached an unprecedented level in the state.

Also Monday, Patrick talked about a $950,000 Massachusetts Opportunity Relocation and Expansion (MORE) jobs grant for Plymouth. “The MORE Jobs Program provides resources to support partnerships between local municipalities and the private sector to foster development and help create hundreds of new jobs,” Patrick said.

The money will be used to pave Wareham Road and create a Bourne Road connector in South Plymouth, both of which are intended to reduce traffic around the River Run housing development. Wareham Road is now a gravel road. Patrick’s office estimates that 9,300 vehicles travel on roads near the River Run development daily. The Bourne Road connecter is expected to alleviate traffic congestion on local roads, which threatens the rural characteristics of the Halfway Pond area, Patrick said. “This is not a grant for River Run. It is a grant for the people of Plymouth” and the area in general, Patrick said.

In addition, the administration has awarded a Workforce Training Fund grant of $49,300 to Suncor Stainless Inc. of Plymouth. That grant will be used to train about 140 employees at the company, which manufactures stainless steel and titanium products.

Don Conkey may be reached at dconkey@ledger.com.

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Lights, camera, Berkshires …

Selling the area to filmmakers

By Derek Gentile
Berkshire Eagle
July 8, 2008

LENOX — Since January 2006, film companies, major and minor, have spent a total of $545 million in the state to make movies, according to Nicholas Paleologos, the director of the Massachusetts Film Office. And state and local officials, as well as the business and local filmmaking community are aiming to tap into that bounty. “If all this money is going into the Boston area,” said state Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, “why can’t the Berkshires share in some of that?”

Paleologos met yesterday with representatives of the Berkshires community to discuss efforts to draw film projects to the area. John Whalan, a spokesman for the Berkshire Film and Media Arts Commission, a nonprofit coalition seeking to connect the Berkshires to the Hollywood film community, said his group is looking to market the Berkshires, in part by creating a Berkshire Production Guide.

Such a guide, Whalan said, would not only identify locations in the Berkshires but provide filmmaker-specific information such as the number of hotel rooms available at any one time, the number of electricians, the amount of bureaucratic red tape that must be dealt with in a specific community, catering services available, and other factors. This is already under way, said Whalan, as his group is working with the Berkshire Visitors Bureau and the Massachusetts Film Office to garner this information.

Such a guide, said Keith Girouard, another commission member, would not only provide filmmakers with information on the resources available in the Berkshires, but consolidate the information locally for Berkshire filmmakers. “There are a lot of people in the movie business, in the entertainment business as a whole kicking around in the Berkshires,” he said. “And a lot of them have only a glancing knowledge of each other. One of the foundations for this guide would be to bring those people to each other’s attention.”

In addition, said Whalan, his commission wanted to collate information on the “hard assets” in Berkshire County. Presently, he said, there is a film production studio at Shakespeare and Co. that is the envy of any such studio in the state. However, there are not a lot of people who are aware of that, he said.

The group, said Whalan, is seeking funding sources for carrying out the research and assembling the Berkshire Production Guide. He estimated the commission might need a budget of about $150,000 in its first year. Paleologos lauded the Berkshire Film and Media Arts Commission, noting that no other specific county in Massachusetts has anything like this. He agreed to work with the group. He pointed out that filmmakers looking to find locations that are no more than 30 miles apart. Once that threshold is crossed, he said, filmmakers generally begin asking questions such as the amount of stage space available, whether or not there is enough housing for the actors and crew, and other factors. A “one-stop shopping” guide would be very valuable, he said.

Pignatelli added that educating communities on the economic potential was also crucial. “If this becomes what I think it can be, we’re not just looking at a few box trucks in town for a few days,” he said. “We’re looking at film crews here for months at a time, using local services and goods. This could have a broad impact on the Berkshires. “But we need to communicate this,” he said. “And we need to work together. In the end, we are still 32 very parochial communities.”

To reach Derek Gentile: dgentile@berkshireeagle.com, (413) 528-3660.

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Plymouth golf course eyed for $300M studio project

July 3, 2008
Boston Globe Staff

Plymouth Rock Studios has picked a golf course in Plymouth as the site of its $300 million “Hollywood East” project.

The studio has selected the 240-acre Waverly Oaks Golf Club property on Long Pond Road, about a mile north of Exit 3 on Route 3, said Kevin O’Reilly, a local project consultant for the studio.

The company plans to build a film and TV production studio featuring 14 sound stages, back lots, a multi-purpose theater, along with a hotel, office buildings, and an educational campus.

The company said it had been evaluating over a dozen sites in the Plymouth area. The company had originally picked a site on Bourne Road in south Plymouth, but ran into title problems. The company has already signed an agreement with the owners of the 27-hole course, which would be closed, O’Reilly said.

“I’ve talked to the Board of Selectmen and the some of the members of the Planning Board and their staff. In some ways, people think this may even be a better site than the original one,” O’Reilly said.

Officials from the company, the town, and the golf course discussed the project at a news conference today at the golf course.

The placement of a “Hollywood East” sign on the lawn of the Plymouth County courthouse caused some controversy recently because the sign obscured a veterans’ memorial. The sign is expected to be moved by Monday.

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