Hollywood Invasion

10 things you really need to know about Massachusetts’ overnight transformation from show-biz laughingstock to movie magnet—including how you can get in on the fun.

BOSTON MAGAZINE Cover Story December 2007

Film boom

In a city where only a handful of films had been shot since 2000, this year brought a comeback of big-screen proportions: six movies, $120 million, and A-list celebrities popping up all across town. But even if you’ve heard the hype and ogled all the paparazzi photos–Yes, paparazzi! In Boston!–what do you really know about our overnight transformation from show-biz laughingstock to movie magnet? Presenting the ultimate user’s manual for the Massachusetts movie boom: where to scope out the stars, who’s cashing in on the celluloid largesse, how you can get in on the fun, and more.

1. So we finally figured out this movie-wooing thing. What made the state get its act together? How a revelation on Beacon Hill—and a little push from Chris Cooper—touched off a gold rush.

2. All the money that studios have poured into the Hub this year—where’s it actually going? Running the numbers on a film shoot’s spending.

3. Who’s cashing in the most on the celluloid largesse…? The sometimes surprising trickle-down beneficiaries of the movie boom.

4. …And who’s getting screwed?

5. I’d like to rub elbows with some stars. Where should I go? Well-informed speculation on where the next wave of A-list visitors might turn up.

6. I’d also like my own 15 minutes of fame, please. How can I get myself into a movie? Because somebody has to stand around in the background during the big scene.

7. Some of these films aren’t even set in this city—or this country. How do they make here look like somewhere else? Pulling back the curtain on the roles Boston has been tapped for this year.

8. When producers look to put together a Boston crew, who gets the first call? A roster of the Hub’s off-camera all-stars.

9. Does any of this mean we finally might see some truly authentic Boston movies get made? How our city gets stereotyped on the big screen, and why there’s hope that might change.

10. Well, this has been fun. What’ll it take to keep the Hollywood love flowing? A cautionary tale from Tinseltown’s former favorite city.

3. Who’s cashing in the most on the celluloid largesse…? The sometimes surprising trickle-down beneficiaries of the movie boom.

(Illustrations by Peter Hoey)

They say there’s no business like show business. Around here, that’s never been truer. And while you’d expect certain industries to profit handsomely (prop makers, video equipment companies, that sort of thing), we wondered about those less obvious Bostonians whose pedigrees or bottom lines are also getting a boost from the film industry. From toilet hawkers to floral designers, here are some of the more fortunate local players making good on our brush with Hollywood.

Lumber Yards

If you want to build a movie set, you’re going to need lots of lumber. “They fly through the wood, man,” says Anderson & McQuaid sales manager Pat McQuaid. His company has supplied timber for a host of movies, which, McQuaid says, will typically buy enough material over the course of six weeks to build a house. The bestseller? Planks of poplar, which, with a little stain, can be made to resemble just about any type of wood that a set builder might desire.


Sure, the business of providing sets with flowers (and stars with greeting bouquets) has occasioned a bump in sales for vendors like Winston Flowers, but the real boon comes in the shine those orders put on the florists’ reputations. Winston’s Alicia Germano says the chain has been keeping a few designers on call to rush to shoots in case they’re needed for some style advice. And when a florist can brag about that kind of service, it builds credibility with the rest of its clientele.

Indie Filmmakers

The first version of the tax credit law required filmmakers to spend $250,000 before they could qualify for the rebate. In July, the total was lowered to $50,000, which lets independent filmmakers get in on the action. Plus, as the ranks of local film workers swell to meet Hollywood’s increased demand, the surplus of polished professionals will give indie auteurs a much deeper pool from which to pick their own crews.

Boston Movie Tours

Jeff Coveney has been ferrying sightseers around to the city’s cinematic landmarks for a couple of years now, but with all the local filming creating widespread celebrity fever, he’s beginning to see heightened interest in his service. Last year, Coveney hosted 1,000 movie fans; this year, he’s on pace to quadruple that—and, between rides, meeting weekly with his guides to discuss new stops for their circuit.

Luxury Hoteliers

When aiming to lure marquee names to bunk at his hotel, InterContinental managing director Tim Kirwan has been known to underbid his rivals at high-end lodges like the Liberty and the Four Seasons. The tactic’s working: The Pink Panther 2’s cast and crew shacked up at the InterCon, and the gang from The Box is settling in now. Locking down 60 to 70 rooms for three months is nice, says Kirwan—who’s got two staffers devoted to movie bookings—but really, it’s all about brand building: “It never hurts to have Andy Garcia in and out of the lobby every day.”

Porta-Potty Suppliers

Devotees of Us Weekly know that stars are, ahem, Just Like Us. And the sheer number of them roving sets all over town has created a run on portable loos. These aren’t the hold-your-nose portable toilets—production companies tend to rent out plush trailers, which, according to Bob Barton of United Site Services in Westborough, come equipped with multiple stalls, sinks, heat, and air conditioning. Some even have their own sound systems, he says, “if somebody just wants to have Muzak going in the restroom.”

Movie-Job Matchmakers

From his one-man office in Canton, Central Booking Service’s Tim Van Patten single-handedly serves as the de facto HR department for practically every movie that comes here. Would-be film workers pay Van Patten to shop their résumés to filmmakers—who call on him because he’s got the thickest stack of résumés around. Demand has been so hot lately that he had to take only a quick look at one job seeker’s CV before sending him directly to the set of The Women, where the guy was hired on the spot.

4. …And who’s getting screwed?

Boston Drivers

Driving and parking in this city is never easy. Clogging streets and sidewalks with trailers, semis, and roped-off sets only makes things worse. Bachelor No. 2 assistant location manager Karen Stark says her film tried to be sensitive to the locals, but could do only so much to limit inconveniences. Particularly challenging were the scenes shot at Old South Church at Copley Square. “It was great,” she says. “But it’s such a busy, busy corner.”


You’d think flacks across town would enjoy the glitz and glamour of having so many bigtime celebs in the Hub—and they do. The problem is that the guests are making it tougher for them to get the word out about their local clients. Mainstays in the Herald’s Inside Track are being bumped down the page; the usual smaller items—say, a charity event or auction—are getting crowded out altogether. “There’s no question, Tom Brady’s baby and Hollywood have taken over,” says publicist Barbara Quiroga. “That’s pretty much who is dominating the boldface names in all the publications.”


When it comes to feeding interloping stars and filmmakers, local caterers aren’t cashing in the way you’d imagine. That’s because those jobs are going to out-of-staters who can bring in the giant cooking trailers that Hollywood types have come to expect. Boston Café & Catering owner David Briggs argues that such cumbersome equipment isn’t actually necessary, adding that he easily could feed the sets with the gear he’s already got. “I absolutely think it’s taking away from our business,” he says.

Hollywood Moment

Chef Mike Tracy on having his Convention Center kitchen transported to France.

In March, the producers of 21 commandeered Tracy’s kitchen at the Boston Convention Center—and for his trouble, the chef was rewarded with a cameo in a kitchen chase scene. Six months later, Tracy got another shot at the silver screen, in The Pink Panther 2. But while his duties didn’t change much between films, his kitchen had to. The Paris-set Panther required the walls to be decorated with fleur-de-lis tiles; chandeliers were added and arched doorways built. Tracy’s stainless steel pots and pans were even temporarily replaced with a mess of copper cookware

5. I’d like to rub elbows with some stars. Where should I go? Well-informed speculation on where the next wave of A-list visitors might turn up.

Celebrity: Steve Martin-In town for: The Pink Panther 2, which wraps early this month.

Known Habits-The funnyman has an appetite for Italian food and is a well-known art aficionado.

Safe Bets- The North End’s Mare, which Martin has already hit at least once (and where Meg Ryan dined when she was here shooting The Women).

Wild Card-The MFA. This spring Martin loaned one of his Edward Hopper originals (a coastal scene) to the museum’s exhibition on the painter.
Celebrity: Seann William Scott; The thriller The Box, set to start filming this month.

Known Habits- Partying. Hard. The actor forever to be known as Stifler likes to get wild with friends at rowdy nightspots

Safe Bets- The Place. Scott’s American Pie costar Jason Biggs was seen swilling—and serving—drinks there while filming Bachelor No. 2.

Wild Card- Liquor Store—because it has a mechanical bull, and Scott seems like a mechanical-bull kind of guy.
Celebrity: Morgan Freeman; The comedy The Lonely Maiden, which arrives midway into this month.

Known Habits- This septuagenarian screen legend is a serious music lover who owns his own club, Ground Zero, in Mississippi.

Safe Bets- The Beehive, whose nightly shows drew Mick Jagger when he was in town to check in on The Women, which is being coproduced by his company, Jagged Films.

Wild Card- It’s a bit far afield, but Johnny D’s in Somerville has the city’s best blues, and Freeman’s a hard-core blues fan.
Celebrity: Cameron Diaz; The Box

Known Habits- Hollywood’s queen of green once swore off coffee, but she’s now swilling java again—helpful for making early calls the morning after crazy nights out.

Safe Bets- Sonsie, and why not: Every visiting star who craves a buzzing atmosphere seems to stop in at least once.

Wild Card- The South End’s Garden of Eden, one of only six Boston eateries certified by the Green Restaurant Association.
——————————————————————————————-Celebrity: Brad Pitt; Said to be on board for the boxing drama The Fighter, likely to begin filming next spring.

Known Habits- Brad and Angie like to get their kids some culture when they’re on the road for a shoot. They rarely eat out as a family—but Mom and Dad’ll sneak in one date night during their stay.

Safe Bets- The Boston Children’s Museum, whose reopening gala last month was cochaired by Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, whose lil’ bro Casey did the Ocean’s flicks with Pitt.

Wild Card- Brangelina favors Asian restaurants for an evening away from the brood—Megu in NYC, Japonais in Chicago. The Boston equivalent: the Leather District’s O Ya.
Celebrity: William H. Macy; The Lonely Maiden

Known Habits-Working out—he does triathlons with wife Felicity Huffman. And, no kidding, woodworking, which he picked
up while making Fargo.

Safe Bets-Sorry, Macy seekers: He’s regarded as a homebody.

Wild Card-This season of This Old House is set in Newton (and star Norm Abram and Macy have both been profiled by Fine Woodworking). Or maybe jogging along the Charles?
——————————————————————————————-Celebrity: Mark Wahlberg; The Fighter

Known Habits-Unlike brother Donnie, who’s been spotted at the Estate, Mark seeks more-mellow haunts now that he’s a father of two.

Safe Bets-During past visits home, Wahlberg’s broken bread at Excelsior.

Wild Card-The Upper Crust, where the former Dot rat can make like Bachelor No. 2’s Kate Hudson and treat his kids to a few slices.
Celebrity: Christopher Walken; The Lonely Maiden

Known Habits-The mercurial actor’s a foodie, and a suitably odd one: He eschews restaurants, and usually stays somewhere with a kitchen so he can cook for himself.

Safe Bets-Barbara Lynch’s Plum Produce and/or its neighbor, Barbara Lynch’s demonstration kitchen, Stir.

Wild Card-An avowed Julia Child disciple, he might be drawn to Savenor’s, Child’s favorite gourmet shop.

Celebrity: Gisele Bündchen; In town for: Tom Brady; rankling Bridget Moynahan

Known Habits-The bombshell is a big shopper and likes to combine commerce with consumption—on past visits she’s been spotted at Louis Boston’s Boston Public.

Safe Bets-We’d say KnowFat—except her ex, Leo, went there during The Departed filming. Maybe Stephanie’s on Newbury, where Kate Bosworth dined when shooting 21.

Wild Card-Clio’s sashimi bar, Uni, is not far from Tom’s pad—and being seen eating raw fish can fend off pesky pregnancy rumors

6. I’d also like my own 15 minutes of fame, please. How can I get myself into a movie? Because somebody has to stand around in the background during the big scene.

Illustration by Sean McCabe

If you’re looking to turn Boston’s Hollywood fling into your own small taste of celluloid glory, you’ll want to get on Angela Peri’s radar. During the past six months, as the number of films shot in town has multiplied, the Boston Casting head has hired four new employees and added half a dozen phone lines, in part to keep up with calls for movie extras. In September and October, she corralled 1,500 of them for The Pink Panther 2 and 2,200 for Bachelor No. 2.

When a studio needs hometown faces to fill in the background of a scene, it will usually call an agency like Peri’s—or its chief competitor, C. P. Casting—ahead of the shoot to outline what it’s looking for. Sometimes the wish list will be very specific: One cocktail party scene in the Pink Panther sequel required female extras who could come dressed in Chanel suits. Generally, extras needn’t be candidates for People’s “Sexiest” lists to qualify for a gig—when shooting an airport scene, for example, filmmakers need to cast from across the aesthetic spectrum. Peri says a good chunk of Bachelor No. 2 was shot in a pub, so she needed men who looked as if they belonged in one.

It’s safe to say that no one’s an extra for the money, though they do get paid about $100 a day, whether or not they ever make it in front of the lens. If you think you’ve got what it takes to pretend to be at a swish soiree or sit on a barstool all day, here’s what you’ll need in order to get started on the road to uncredited fame.

A computer and a digital camera: Many casting agencies are dispensing with glossy headshots. Instead, they store images of potential extras in digital databases, which they can quickly sift through as orders come in. Boston Casting (bostoncasting.com) allows you to upload a headshot to its website and add personal data such as age, height, and hair color. And both Boston Casting and C. P. Casting (cpcasting.com) also post details about open casting calls.

Free time, and ample reading material: Shoots usually last a minimum of 12 hours, take place on weekdays, and require your presence for the entire time the cameras are rolling. The bulk of that is spent sitting and waiting, so bring a good book along.

Restraint: Production crews are very strict about this: They don’t want extras approaching, talking to, hitting on, or otherwise communicating with the stars. Violate the rule, and you’ll be kicked off the set.

A willingness to have your illusions shattered: “Everybody thinks they want to be in a movie,” says C. P. Casting’s Matt Bouldry, who helped cast extras for The Women. “But when it comes down to having to be somewhere in Boston at 6 a.m. and find parking and look presentable and be willing to wait around until they’re done with the shoot, most people realize it isn’t as exciting as they thought it would be.”

7. Some of these films aren’t even set in this city—or this country. How do they make here look like somewhere else? Pulling back the curtain on the roles Boston has been tapped for this year.

Photos by Diana Levine

Newbury Street plays Madison Avenue in The Women

A remake of the 1939 Joan Crawford rib-tickler, The Women is set in New York, just like the original. While the movie is heavy on interior shots, there were a few outdoor scenes that required a Big Apple look.

The shot: Meg Ryan and Annette Bening stroll down the street, chatting.
The location: Near the intersection of Newbury and Berkeley, between the Brooks Brothers and Allen-Edmonds stores.
The cinematic sleight of hand: The director kept the camera zoomed in tight on the shops’ suitably Manhattanesque façades; to complete the look, phony New York street signs and a Gotham taxi were brought in. “You can cheat it in really pretty simple ways,” says location manager Tim Gorman.

The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center does a turn as Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport in 21

Post-9/11 prohibitions on filming in airports force producers to get creative with scenes involving air travel.

The shot: A trip through the Sin City airport by MIT’s globetrotting, card-counting blackjack team.
The location: The mezzanine floor of the convention center, whose cavernous size, many escalators, and towering glass windows mimic the aesthetic of a typical terminal.
The cinematic sleight of hand: Set designers hauled in security gates, line ropes, and rows of airport terminal seats. They also dropped in signs (“Baggage claim, this way”). Serendipity even worked in their favor: Through the walkway’s end window, you can see the neighboring Westin hotel—just the sort of vista you might get at a real airport.

Copley Square masquerades as Paris in The Pink Panther 2

With the current exchange rate, finding Parisian “looks” in Boston—a city chock-full of European architecture—is a lot cheaper than filming overseas.

The shot: Steve Martin and Andy Garcia address French reporters.
The location: In front of the Fairmont Copley Plaza, a spot that location scouts felt had a particularly Parisian appearance, owing to the hotel’s old-school limestone façade and wide awnings.
The cinematic sleight of hand: For the sake of authenticity, cars and street signs were again considered. In this case, eight European automobiles (including French-built Citroëns) were shipped to Boston and parked in the valet area along St. James Avenue. After swapping out all the English signs, the filmmakers completed the transformation with a trickier task: rounding up as many “French looking” extras as possible.

Plus: How Copley Square Extended Its Time in the Spotlight
Getting from Paris to Rome by crossing the street

One Pink Panther 2 scene takes place in the pope’s bedroom. Since a personal invitation from Benedict XVI himself was not forthcoming, the producers turned to the Boston Public Library’s Abbey Room, a space that could fit just as nicely into an Italian palace. Its checkered stone floor, marble archways, gilt wood ceiling, and mural of the quest for the Holy Grail provided the base; set builders brought in religious statues and other papal props to help complete the effect. For the finishing touch, they constructed a wall in the middle of the room with a door that led out onto a plaster balcony. In the movie, Steve Martin’s Inspector Clouseau will walk through the room and out onto that ledge and—thanks to some blue-screen magic—appear to be peering out onto St. Peter’s Square.

8. When producers look to put together a Boston crew, who gets the first call? A roster of the Hub’s off-camera all-stars.

Portraits by Yeheshua Johnson

Tracy Spiegel/Ethan Fox
Craft Services

Credits: Gone Baby Gone, 21, Dan in Real Life. Spiegel and Fox have been in the business for only 18 months, but they’ve already built a strong reputation. The newly married couple are responsible for keeping the cast and crew happy and well fed between meals (which are handled separately by caterers). With an average budget of $800 a day, they furnish everything from pastry platters to taco bars and dessert, as well as just about any type of coffee or tea imaginable. Their strangest request so far? One member of the Gone Baby Gone crew had a hankering for tea tree oil toothpicks.

Tom Williams
Production Sound Mixer

Credits: The Women, Evening, Underdog. As chief soundman, Williams decides how the mikes will capture dialogue, which means he’s also tasked with cutting out background noise. Humming refrigerators and ticking clocks are frequent sources of audio pollution, but his bane is the clip-clop of high-heel shoes—a problem on the stiletto-heavy set of The Women. To muffle the racket, he’ll affix neoprene or rubber to the bottom of shoes, lay down carpet, or, when all else fails, make the extras go barefoot. “A lot of times it’s as simple as saying, ‘Okay, background, take your shoes off,’” he says.

Scott Davis
Rigging Gaffer

Credits: Gone Baby Gone, 21, Mystic River. Gaffers are in charge of a shoot’s electrical engineering and lighting, a job that can get tricky: On Gone Baby Gone, Davis had to run 10 miles of wire across Quincy Quarries. “There’s this peak they wanted to have a bunch of lights on, and the only way to get them up there was to carry them,” he says. “Our stuff is not light.” With the aid of pulleys—and after a week of lugging—he had the spot ready for the shot.

Trish Seeney
Makeup Artist

Credits: Gone Baby Gone, 21, Bachelor No. 2. Seeney’s made everyone from Amanda Peet to Jason Varitek look good. But her aim isn’t always to hide blemishes—for Gone Baby Gone, she used smudged mascara and runny eyeliner to transform actress Amy Ryan into a drug addict. “She had to look awful, she had to look strung-out. It was not pretty makeup,” says Seeney, who’s been so in demand that she recently was able to buy a new house in West Newton.

Jamie Fitzpatrick
Second Asst. Cameraman

Credits: The Game Plan, Old Dogs, War of the Worlds. The care and maintenance of millions of dollars’ worth of camera equipment falls to Fitzpatrick, who assists the director of photography and loads the all-important film. He’s also the guy who yells out the take number and claps the slate before every shot. It’s a surprisingly visible gig, he says. “I’ve been on Oprah and a couple of other television shows because they always show you on clips.” —J.S.

Hollywood Moment
Set dresser Butch McCarthy on getting chased by an ax-wielding Daniel Day Lewis.

While working on The Crucible in 1995, McCarthy spent his days building 17th-century fences. It sounds like monotonous work, but he had company: Daniel Day Lewis, a notorious Method actor who got into character by pitching in. (He even joined the local union in order to get the necessary clearance.) But the Oscar winner’s inexperience made him a perfect mark for a practical joke. “We took the edge off his ax, so it was dull. He was sweating up a storm.” Eventually, McCarthy let Lewis in on the ruse. “He chased me around the woods,” McCarthy says, noting that the actor didn’t drop his ax during the pursuit.

9. Does any of this mean we finally might see some truly authentic Boston movies get made? How our city gets stereotyped on the big screen, and why there’s hope that might change.

As it gets easier to make films about Boston, in Boston, with Bostonians, the notion of what constitutes a “Boston movie” may consequently be up for grabs. “The more rooted I am here,” says Dave McLaughlin, the homegrown director of On Broadway, “the more I feel responsible to represent my community in a way that’s truthful, and not just exploit shallow perceptions of what Boston is.” To do that, though, cineastes would have to steer clear of these five cliches, which seem to fill every rendering of our fair city.

1. The Accent

Ranging from good (see Robert Mitchum in The Friends of Eddie Coyle) to catastrophic (Tim Robbins doing his Sling Blade-Comes-to-Southie routine in Mystic River), the accent is always on display in a Boston film. Why? Directors want gritty realism, moviegoers find it compelling, and Bostonians need something to bitch about for nine months after the film premieres.

2. The Ball-Busting

This usually involves three or more male friends inside a worn-out Irish bar or a worn-out used car. Though occasionally hostile, the discord is mainly employed to show that while friends would take a bullet for one another, self-aggrandizement and lame jokes will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Models of the form can be found in the Denis Leary vehicle Monument Ave., and in every scene featuring Marky Mark in The Departed.

3. The Paleness

While Boston is nearly a majority minority city now, you wouldn’t know it from Boston movies, every one of which is about as diverse as a town meeting in Weston. The lack of pigmentation helps shore up the themes of xenophobia, racism, and homophobia that marble many of the more neighborhood-oriented offerings, such as The Departed, Boondock Saints, and Monument Ave., and make the fact that Laurence Fishburne’s character in Mystic River was named Whitey Powers that much more inappropriate.

4. The Funerals

Being that many of the characters in Boston movies are of Irish descent and often criminals, there must also be death, and the attendant wake must occur
in a room lined either with beers (On Broadway) or bad wallpaper (Mystic River, Southie). The venue may also be a parish hall (Monument Ave.). If a corpse cannot be provided, a dead loved one may conspicuously loom over the proceedings, giving characters something to be haunted by (Next Stop Wonderland).

5. The Crime

Another staple is wholesale mayhem, and usually some kind of Whitey-esque crime boss. See: The Thomas Crown Affair (the 1968 original), Mystic River, The Boston Strangler, Southie, Boondock Saints, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Brink’s Job, Good Will Hunting (to an extent), The Departed (and how!), Monument Ave., Blown Away, and so on. The 1982 film The Verdict, in which Paul Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer battling a corrupt and cynical Catholic Church, wins extra points for being ahead of its time.

9b. Boston Classics, Remixed

The past 10 years of relative prosperity and widespread gentrification have diminished our city’s roguish image a bit. So as we cultivate local talent with an eye toward representing the real Boston, how about updates on a few classics?

Good Luck Apartment Hunting Will Hunting returns to Southie, and robs an MIT prof (Lenny Clarke) to scrape together a security deposit on his now astronomically expensive apartment.

The Departed Middle Class In which a low-ranking exec at State Street (Lenny Clarke) moves his family from J.P. to Marlborough and gets slightly bored. “The schools are better” is the lonely refrain that echoes across his overlarge lawn.

The Cardinal Law Affair No one’s really tackled the Catholic Church abuse scandal yet. Here’s the chance. Starring a fat Alan Rickman as Cardinal Law, who duels with a hardboiled, though well-dressed, trial lawyer (Lenny Clarke).

Return of the Boston Strangler A rapacious developer (Ben Affleck) tries to build a 35-story glass condo tower next to the working-class house of a heavily accented, ball-busting ex-con who’s been to his share of funerals (Lenny Clarke). Hilarity ensues. The building still goes up, though.

10. Well, this has been fun. What’ll it take to keep the Hollywood love flowing? A cautionary tale from Tinseltown’s former favorite city.

Illustration by Sean McCabe

As Boston angles to lay permanent claim to the title of Hollywood North, we should hope state leaders remember this: Not so long ago, the proud citizens of Toronto justifiably believed their hometown held that distinction. In 2001 alone, U.S. studios shot a whopping 17 feature films and 33 TV movies there. But in the years since, the Toronto Film and Television Office (TFTO) estimates, major film production in the region has dropped 35 percent. In the face of that slump, the TFTO, once a hive of permit granting and celebrity wrangling, has been forced to focus its efforts on a campaign to recapture the glory days.

In some ways, Toronto was a victim of its own success. It was one of the first to pony up tax incentives for film shoots. But when state governments (including our own) saw how well that worked, they all cribbed its playbook; today, some 40 states have a film office that offers tax deals. Such tax-break brinksmanship is indeed a danger for Massachusetts—already, Connecticut boasts a bigger rebate. To build on this year’s momentum, the Bay State needs to ensure that it provides other advantages, too, and these moves could help keep the party going for years to come.

Developing a deep bench: A large pool of experienced workers gives studios confidence they won’t be understaffed in a crunch. The union of local film workers is trying to grow its ranks, and to keep budding crew hands in town, the Massachusetts Film Office wants to link aspiring gaffers, grips, and electricians in the film programs at Emerson, Tufts, BU, and other schools with the working pros.

Building a state-of-the-art soundstage: Film crews in need of cavernous, unobstructed indoor spaces are making do by renting hockey rinks and empty warehouses as temporary soundstages, but Massachusetts Film Office boss Nick Paleologos thinks that a technologically advanced, permanent soundstage would be an important advantage to luring productions. California-based Good News Holdings is moving toward filling that need—it’s planning to build the first large film studio in the Northeast, a 1,000-acre facility with soundstages and editing facilities, in Plymouth.

Being an accommodating host…: Know what makes directors happy? The ability to close off a major thoroughfare (like, say, the Mass Ave. bridge, which the producers of 21 emptied) at any moment they please. “There needs to be an overall cooperative environment that allows things to happen that might be out of the norm,” says Bill Lindstrom, head of the Association of Film Commissioners International, a group that provides pointers on facilitating location shoots.

…But without annoying the natives: For Boston residents, the thrill of spying Kate Hudson behind them in the latte line fades quickly if her presence in town is accompanied by the shutting down of their route home during rush hour for three straight days. Balancing the needs of the moviemakers and the easily riled locals is something the film office in Toronto did well. Early on, it met with residents to collaboratively craft guidelines for movie crews so they would create as little disruption to daily life as possible—a move its Bay State counterpart would be wise to emulate.

Hollywood Moment
Location scout Charlie Harrington on how Denzel Washington made him buy a nicer car.

Harrington’s scouted locations for movies like 21 and Good Will Hunting, work that put some 163,000 miles on his car. So when Washington visited in March to prepare for The Great Debaters, it was a well-worn vehicle—dented on one side—Harrington drove him around in. When Washington returned for filming, he supplied a ribbing. “He said, ‘Charlie, you haven’t fixed that dent, I can’t be seen in this thing!’” With all the work he’s getting, Harrington was able to take the chiding to heart: The next day he bought a new Range Rover.

By Rebecca G. Dorr, By Michele Orecklin, By Jason Schwartz, By Joe Keohane , By Geoffrey Gagnon

Worcester goes Hollywood, Feature film does location shots at local museum
Milton was ready for its close-ups



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