Mechanic Street crash all in day’s work

By Kathleen McKiernan
The Recorder
June 4, 2013

A car crash is staged on Mechanic Street in Shelburne Falls Tuesday during filming of “The Judge.” (Recorder/Kathleen McKiernan)
A car crash is staged on Mechanic Street in Shelburne Falls Tuesday during filming of “The Judge.” (Recorder/Kathleen McKiernan)

CARLINVILLE — On Tuesday afternoon, a black vehicle raced down Mechanic Street and collided with a tree by Buckland Shelburne Elementary School, leaving black tire skid marks across the quiet neighborhood street and many onlookers in awe.

That was the image scene artists created on the third day of filming for the Warner Bros., “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.

With another long 12-hour day ahead of them, the film crew spent most of the day at Arms Cemetery — where the funeral scene would be filmed. Once again, the New England town was turned into the fictional Carlinville in southern Indiana.

The block party moved from Main Street to Mechanic Street as neighbors watched from their porches as the film crew turned their neighborhood into a crash scene.

Beside the elementary school, film artists dressed a tree up to look shredded, removed the 25 mph sign and parked police vehicles from Indiana across the street.

At about 2 p.m., a scene artist removed black paint (washable) from a vehicle and carried a roller to design tire skid marks across the road.

Though parking was limited in town on Mechanic and Grove streets, residents didn’t mind the minor inconvenience.

“It’s fun and exciting to see how they do it,” said Teena Bardwell, a resident on Mechanic Street, who watched the scene artists with neighbor Linda Kaiser.

“It’s not something I knew was going to happen today,” said Linda Umstatter. “We came around to take (my mother-in-law) to the doctor and didn’t know there would be a shoot here. It catches your curiosity. We’re trying to figure out what they’re filming. It seems like the aftermath of an accident.”

Three young friends — Abby Jackson and Emma Hing of Easthampton and Henry Lombino of Buckland — watched the crew closely, chatting with scene artists to find out what the movie business is like.

Hing is actually attending New York University in the fall to study film.

“It’s really interesting. This was my old elementary school. It’s funny to see a crashed car next to it,” said Lombino.

With much of the filming set on the dead-end road crossing Route 2 at Arms Cemetery, the town center wasn’t bustling as much as earlier this week when the center stage was Singley’s on Bridge Street.

Around 3 p.m., some of the crew members arrived back on Bridge Street to set the scene for the next day’s tornado shoot. Outside the Keystone Market, the crew manipulated tree branches to reflect a strong wind, while across the street at the Greenfield Cooperative Savings Bank, the crew worked on the rooftop.

Selectman Joe Judd watched the town’s transformation and was hopeful filming would have a significant positive economic impact on the town.

It’s been a pleasant experience,” Judd said. “The professionalism in regards to how people handle themselves is beyond anything I’ve seen. The way they try to make everything right is testimony to not only their professionalism, but their commitment that when they leave here, the majority of people will have fond thoughts of their time here.”

The film crew will be working in Franklin County for the next few days. On Monday, they will film a driving scene on Route 47 in Sunderland.

This week, the Sunderland Board of Selectmen approved a film permit submitted by Warner Bros. to film on the road between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

According to Selectman Tom Fydenkevez, the film company has contacted residents along the road to get approval. The film company will pay $3,900 to the town for police detail and a $25 film permit fee.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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