By Jared Robinson & Staff Reporter
Athol Daily News
ORANGE — Residents lined the entirety of the hallway from the selectboard’s meeting room to the exit onto Prospect Street at the town hall Wednesday night. Many in line were using mobile devices to stream AOTV’s coverage of the proceedings, in an effort to glean any information they could about Orange’s upcoming transformation into “Castle Rock,” the television show based on the many works of Stephen King, and set to film scenes in the Friendly Town.
Location Manager for Castle Rock, Joe Stargensky, brought some of the location scouts with him, including Alex Berard, who offered up Orange as the location for the show.
Last winter scouts were sent to locales in and around Massachusetts, Maine, and even into Canada looking for a location for Castle Rock, the fictional setting of many of author Stephen King’s works, Stargensky said. “So Maine wasn’t good enough to be Maine, so they picked Massachusetts,” he joked. He went on to explain that, when filming you usually want to be near a major city where more services can be found, but the showrunners were not satisfied with many of the locations previously considered, so Berard, who often travels through Orange, decided to take the showrunners to town as a last ditch effort and they were instantly smitten with the town. “So let me be the first to say hello Castle Rock…congratulations and thank you for letting us be here.”
The first season is going to be 10 episodes long, with the pilot being a longer episode than the remaining episodes. Currently three of the ten episodes have been written, Stargensky explained, so with filming slated to begin in August, the crew can expect to be in town up to 3-4 times a month based on need and weather permitting. As previously mentioned, though some inside scenes may be filmed in Orange, the town’s purpose is mostly for outdoor shots. Two houses on Ball Street have been selected as the “hero locations,” meaning they will be used as the homes of the fictional stars.
Stargensky warned that residents will have to be patient with the crew. “We are going to make Orange a little bit better sometimes, and a little bit worse sometimes,” he said. “We’re going to start coming to town and we are going to start building our world so that all the people watching our show know that Orange is Castle Rock. We have some store fronts we are going to be putting newspaper over, making them look defunct. There is a character in the show who wants to revitalize Castle Rock so there will be times when we have nice scenes and we will have dirty scenes and you will be seeing stuff like that we don’t want the grass cut in the little common, so that will be our fault.”
Lisa Strout, Director of the Massachusetts Film Office was present and wished to thank the town for bringing the first television series to Massachusetts in almost 30 years. “This is a very, very big deal to us,” she said, also thanking community development director Kevin Kennedy and North Quabbin Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mark Wright for being great resources to the location scouts.
There are a number of logistical issues that need to be worked out, such as where the crew will be able to park their trailers, which includes a number of 40-foot or longer trucks that serve as the prop and wardrobe trailers, the cast trailers, and parking for the entire crew that can be up to 60 people at a time, as well as catering. A number of locations are being considered for “base camp,” including the former Rodney Hunt, though they are unsure how to get in touch with company ownership; Butterfield School, which might not have adequate parking but shuttling people around is an option; for catering the Universalist Church is being considered, and lastly the airport, which is a good option due to the space available but might be too far away from the filming locations. The basement of Trail Head Outfitters is also being considered for a catering spot, in the space formerly occupied by Midstate Mattress. There is also parking available at the Orange Innovation Center, across from the Ball Street filming location, and a portion of the lot has been offered to the crew. Berard said he has been in talks with OIC property manager Brianna Drohen about the parking situation and also possibly using the third floor space for catering.
Stargensky stated that there will be background casting opportunities for area residents hoping to be extras on the show and are encouraged to sign up for email alerts from www.slatecasting.com to keep abreast on filming locations and casting calls.
Stephanie Conrod, chair of the elementary school committee asked how filming will interfere with the bus schedule, noting that between 7 and 8 a.m., and again between 2 and 3 p.m. the center of town gets choked by the school busses passing through.
“What do you know, Orange has a rush hour,” laughed Stargensky, who tried to assuage Conrod’s concern with the explanation that they usually start filming around 7 a.m. but will be in communication with the bus company and all other town departments that they need to be about where they will be filming to keep the interruption to a minimum. If this means filming will be near the center of town the bus company will be notified a few days in advance. “Any concerns you have, if you see us, come to us and talk to us, we are all sensible people and we will listen,” Stargensky said.