By Kate Nagle
April 12, 2013
Worcester has been buzzing since filming started downtown on the untitled David O. Russell movie starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence, among other top Hollywood names.
Production began this week on the project, formerly referred to as “American Bullsh*t”, which was written by Eric Singer about the FBI’s 1970-80 “Abscam” sting operation based out of Long Island. The operation aimed to root out corruption in public office and led to the conviction of a US Senator, a member of the New Jersey Senate, five members of the House of Representatives, an inspector for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and members of the Philadelphia City Council. The movie also lists Robert DeNiro, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Louis C.K. as among its cast.
Filming began this week in Worcester, with cast and crew already on location on Millbury Street. With other areas of the city slated to be filmed as well over an expected eight day period, Worcester is currently brimming with activity.
Boost for the Local Economy
Stuart Loosemoore with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce said to GoLocalWorcester on Thursday that he knew about the production coming to town “about two weeks ago” — and that the Chamber was more than at the ready to help.
“Worcester is looking at an economic impact, at the very least, of $100,000 to $150,000 over the course of the eight days of shooting,” said Loosemore, noting that the production fees and expenses were just the start, and that the ancillary economic impact would most likely prove to be even greater.
“We’re all about keeping local money local…and non-local money local,” quipped Loosemore, saying that the filming would be an “absolute boom” to the local economy, with the cast and production crew “eating, drinking, shopping, and sleeping” in Worcester.
Loosemore said that the Chamber would soon be finding itself in the center of filming activity. “There are plans to film on several of the floors above ours here,” said Loosemoore. “It’s going to be interesting to see how Worcester ends up being “retro-fitted” for the movie, which is set in the ’70s. I hear some of the street scenes being filmed are supposed to resemble New York’s 3rd Avenue at that time. It’s really going to be neat to see on screen.”
Canal District Front and Center
John Giangregorio, President of the Canal District Business Association, said, “I’m thrilled with all the excitement this is creating. I’ve got to give a great deal of credit to [local arts supporter] Nicole Watson for helping make this happen.”
With filming taking place this week at Nick’s Bar and Restaurant, Giangregorio noted, “Of course, I feel that the Canal District is a top location in the city, and I couldn’t be happier they decided to film here.”
Giangregorio noted that due to production, some street closures and parking measures had to be put in place, which was impacting local businesses. “I want to thank them for their patience and understanding. I know it’s not easy for some of the businesses,” he noted. He added, “The City Police and Fire detail, who have been working long hours, have been phenomenal.”
Massachusetts Film Office Knows Worcester’s Value
Lisa Strout, Director of the Massachusetts Film Office, joined in with praise for the Worcester community for drawing in both big-budget, as well as small independent films, for production.
“The texture, the character of Worcester…it really is a production designer’s dream,” said Strout, noting that when film crews come in from the West Coast, they notice the lighting difference right way. “There’s just a rich patina to Worcester,” she said.
Strout noted that the tax incentives from the state film office were “the same for everyone,” and Massachusetts provides filmmakers with a highly competitive package of tax incentives: a 25% production credit, a 25% payroll credit, and a sales tax exemption. More information about the tax incentives can be found here.
“It’s a team effort between the state and local communities to secure having a movie shoot on location in Massachusetts,” said Strout. “Erin Williams in the Cultural Development Office has been instrumental in the process. Worcester definitely has a great deal of experience with production crews coming smoothly into the city, which is an asset when location scouts consider recommending places.”
Since 2002, Worcester and Central Massachusetts have featured prominently in feature films such as “Knight and Day”, “The Surrogates”, “Shuttle”, “The Game Plan”, and recently, the television show, “Gilded Lilys”.
“On average, Massachusetts might see around eight to twelve movies filmed on location in the state annually,” said Strout. “However, with the size and scope of each production varying greatly, it’s hard to compare years. What we do know is that when folks come here, they spend money. They tend to buy a lot of gifts — especially art.”
Strout noted that besides the location visuals, what Massachusetts provides is brainpower. “We’ve got an amazing creative and technologically proficient community here in the state,” said Strout. “We can offer producers the ability to do post-production here, for editing, visual effects, sound production, you name it. They realize the wealth of capabilities filming in Massachusetts affords. And let’s face it, people love to visit this state. We have something special going on here.”