Bringing Boston to the big screen

By Greg Vellante
Lawrence Eagle Tribune
October 24, 2010

The streets of Boston have been walked on by legends. Eastwood. Scorsese. Nicholson. Some have revisited the area on numerous occasions, such as homegrown actors and friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the latter eventually bringing younger brother Casey along for the Beantown experience as well.

All of these filmmakers and actors have entered the Massachusetts capital and its surrounding areas in order to bring the cities and state to life on screen. Over the past decade, Boston has slowly become the newest hotspot for setting and shooting a film.

Recently, audiences have seen a swarm of Boston-related movies hitting theaters. Just this year, Mel Gibson starred in the crime thriller “Edge of Darkness,” Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio reunited for the mystery “Shutter Island,” Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz cruised in the action comedy “Knight and Day,” Ben Affleck directed and starred in the blockbuster heist film “The Town,” and David Fincher directed the creation of Facebook in “The Social Network.”

“The Town” was shot on location in Charlestown and nearby areas, and throughout the film, shots of familiar spots highlighted the local appeal, especially a climactic scene set in Fenway Park.

“The Social Network,” while set at Harvard University for part of the film, was unable to shoot on the actual campus due to the school’s restrictions on filming there. There are, however, various shots of neighboring locations, including an opening scene set at The Thirsty Scholar Pub in Somerville.

So what set off this explosion of filming in the Massachusetts area? The answer seems to be the Massachusetts Film Office. The state was among the first to create an official film office in 1979, and in 2006, the film tax credit began, resulting in more revenue for the state from film production.

From this point on, the number of Massachusetts-filmed movies has increased to an exponential degree. The state has given birth to Oscar nominees and winners, from “Mystic River” to “The Departed,” and according to several rave reviews for Affleck’s sophomore directorial effort, “The Town” is next on Boston’s list of award-winners.

Later this year, “The Fighter” stars Mark Wahlberg as boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward, a story from the mid-1980s that stems locally from Lowell. The film was shot on location and, according to early buzz, is a front runner for this year’s Academy Awards, especially Christian Bale’s performance as Ward’s crack-addicted brother and trainer.

This recent boost in Massachusetts’s film production is sure to continue, and residents can expect many stars to visit within the year. Just recently, Boston welcomed actors Anna Faris and Chris Evans for filming of a comedy titled “What’s Your Number?” around the North End. The movie “Moneyball,” which stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, also did some filming in Boston over the summer.

Boston continues to grow as a prime location for movies to set their stories and shoot their scenes. From crime thrillers to comedies, and legendary directors to up-and-coming stars, the streets of Boston continue to be walked on by the best of the best. And with the abundance of high quality films being produced here, it’s no surprise that the city continues to pave the way for more cinematic possibilities.

Greg’s Top 10 Boston Movies:

1. “The Departed” (Boston)
2. “Gone Baby Gone” (Boston)
3. “The Social Network” (Boston)
4. “Mystic River” (Boston)
5. “Good Will Hunting” (South Boston, Cambridge)
6. “Love Story” (Cambridge)
7. “Southie” (South Boston)
8. “Jaws” (Martha’s Vineyard)
9. “The Town” (Charlestown)
10. “The Boondock Saints” (Boston)

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