By Cynthia Mccormick
Cape Cod Times
June 14, 2010
Dennis and Falmouth would like people to know they are open for business … the movie business, that is.
The town of Dennis and the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce have developed Web pages promoting their attractiveness as potential film sites and promising assistance with the permitting process if film crews need to shut down roads or work on public property. The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce also maintains a similar site, www.filmoncapecod.com, that promotes the entire region.
Pride of place has a role in developing the Web pages, as well as the hope of getting a chunk of the film business drawn to Massachusetts by incentive tax breaks.
“Dennis is a great spot to make a movie,” said Peggie Hunter, the former executive director of the Dennis Chamber of Commerce, who was hired by the town to come up with a new promotion plan.
In addition to TV commercials geared to tourists, Hunter developed the idea for the film page on the town’s website, which Dennis is calling “The Reel Deal.”
The site, which has been online for only a few weeks, includes a link to a film permit application.
If filmmakers want beach scenes, there are Chapin and loads of other gorgeous beaches, Hunter said. If they are looking for historical touches, there is the Josiah Dennis Manse and the West Dennis Graded Schoolhouse.
Dennis also boasts the historic Cape Cinema on Route 6A, which “would be a fabulous place for one of these movies to premiere,” she said.
“We have all the aesthetics someone would be looking for,” said Dennis Town Administrator Richard White.
Falmouth may be giving Dennis a run for its movie money, however.
“We feel we’re representative of the Cape, with 68 miles of coastline,” said Jay Zavala, president of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the Falmouth Film Office web pages.
Last week a location chief scouting out filming spots came to town and met with him to discuss the permitting process, Zavala said. He said his job is to go over such things as whether a crew wants to shut a road down completely or just manage traffic.
“It’s a matter of economics,” Zavala said, noting that local businesses want to be able to compete for any film jobs that come to town.
The film office website, which is not yet complete, will include links to local vendors and crews.
Dennis and Falmouth are two of seven Massachusetts communities included in the Massachusetts Film Office’s list of locations that maintain their own film web pages.
The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce site offers similar resources to those available from the towns. Though the presence of the site has helped coordinate some smaller-scale commercial video and photo shoots, there has not yet been a surge of interest in filming on the Cape, said chamber CEO Wendy Northcross.
“We’ll help you with site selection, we’ll help you with permitting,” she said. “But I can’t say there’s been an overwhelming line of people at the door asking for those services.”
However, a feature film project titled “Upon a Star” is scheduled to begin filming in the region in late 2010 or early 2011, according to www.filmoncapecod.com.
Local officials said they were inspired by the state’s success in attracting film companies since passing a film tax credit law in 2006 and lifting the cap in 2007.
Five years ago the state hosted one major film project that spent $6 million, according to the Massachusetts Film Office. In 2008, those numbers increased to 13 projects spending $452 million.
Plans to build a studio in Plymouth are an added incentive to advertise the Cape towns’ film friendliness, officials say.
“If they are coming to Massachusetts and they are building a studio, we’d like to get in before everybody else does,” said Dennis Selectman Heidi Schadt.
So far Plymouth Rock Studios has not broken ground for a new facility, and its backers are still looking for financing.
But Hunter said having a studio nearby isn’t necessary to attract film crews to Dennis. “Where they actually do the editing can be done anywhere,” she said.
What Dennis offers is natural seaside beauty, historical charm, helpful officials — and star-struck local residents willing to serve as extras.
Hunter herself was in a bar scene filmed at O’Shea’s Olde Inne for the movie “Noelle,” which is now out on DVD.
Staff writer Sarah Shemkus contributed to this report.