Lynn’s true grit used as backdrop to reel violence

By Maddie Hanna
Boston Globe
June 19, 2008

It was a case of art imitating the worst of local life.

A motorcycle tore down Munroe Street in Lynn yesterday, leading two police cars on a dizzying chase. Lights flashed, brakes squealed, and onlookers screamed as the bike swerved right onto Washington Street.


It wasn’t a fugitive fleeing police who shut down two streets yesterday in this small North Shore city just two weeks after a man was fatally shot outside City Hall. It was stunt doubles speeding through a staged car chase.

“The Surrogates,” a sci-fi thriller starring Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames, is also being filmed in Worcester, Lawrence, Wayland, Taunton, Hopedale, and Boston. Willis was on hand for filming in Lynn on May 30, but stunt doubles took over yesterday for car and helicopter chases.

Throughout the morning, more than 100 onlookers crowded the intersection of Munroe and Market streets, watching takes of the two-block getaway.

Children plugged their ears when the motorcycles revved. Adults snapped pictures with digital cameras. Many people stood patiently for hours as crews readjusted cameras and extras reversed their cars back into place along the one-way street, which is lined with brick buildings and painted storefronts.

“It’s pretty good,” Kier Beveridge, 31, said of the fake chase. “I think it’s exciting. When the cops almost swerved off and tipped – if I were them, I’d keep the first shot.”

Beveridge wasn’t the only one transfixed by the filming. Angel Brazzo, 22, said she stopped to watch after leaving a dental appointment on Market Street.

“It’s kind of entertaining,” Brazzo said. “I’m kind of shocked that they’re in Lynn.”

“Surrogates” decided to shoot in Lynn both because the city quickly accepted the filming arrangement and because it provided the look producers wanted, said R.J. Mino, second unit production manager.

The film, which portrays humans who live through futuristic robot “surrogates,” involves two worlds, he explained.

“There’s downtown Boston, the fake surrogate world, and then there’s the real world the humans live in,” Mino said. “It doesn’t get much more real than Lynn.”

Lynn has had its own brush with gritty reality.

On June 8, a man was shot and killed outside City Hall. Four others were shot in Lynn that weekend, and one man was stabbed.

But no one mentioned the city’s true crime while watching the scripted drama unfold. And some residents drew inspiration from the scene.

“It’s fascinating, huh?” said Jeanne McDonald, who brought her students from the Lynn public school system’s tutorial department “to expose them to different avenues.”

“You don’t have to be the actors” to work in the film industry, she told Bianca Neary, 15, and Jenna Allen, 12. “There’s wardrobe people, makeup artists -”

“I want to be a hairdresser,” Allen interrupted.

Between stunt doubles, extras, and crew members, about 175 people were working on the “Surrogates” set yesterday, Mino said.

The number of movies filming in Massachusetts has increased dramatically since a new tax credit took effect last year, said Nick Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

From July 2006 to July 2007, three films were shot in the state, he said. Fourteen films – including “21,” “The Women,” and “The Lonely Maiden” – are being shot during the year ending in July.

“Surrogates” is based on a graphic novel, “The Surrogates,” by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele.

The movie – in which Lynn native Jack Noseworthy, 38, plays a criminal evading Willis’s heroic FBI agent – is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2009, publicist Ernie Malik said.

Filming is scheduled to continue today and Friday. Exchange Street and Central Avenue are scheduled to be closed today, said Andrea Scalise, a Lynn mayoral aide. Andrew Street is expected to be closed Friday.

Maddie Hanna can be reached at

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