By George Barnes & Nick Kotsopoulos
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
November 15, 2018
WORCESTER – The long-vacant Worcester Memorial Auditorium will have a part in the movie “Honest Thief.”
Through the magic of Hollywood, the first-floor lobby of the historic building will transformed into a bank lobby, and the scene that will be filmed there involves actor Liam Neeson breaking into the bank’s vault, according to Alex Berard, the location manager for the film project.
Mr. Neeson will be the only actor in the scene.
Mr. Berard said a vault door already has been built for the scene. Special effects will be used to simulate cutting into the vault, with sparks flying, he added.
The scene is scheduled to be filmed Monday. Set-up work to transform the auditorium’s lower lobby into a bank lobby will be done Friday, and the set will be taken down and removed Tuesday.
“We’re looking at one day to film, one day to prepare and one day to clean up,” Mr. Berard told the Memorial Auditorium board of trustees Wednesday, seeking their approval to use the the building.
He said the production company has worked with the Fire Department on logistics for the special effects for the scene. He said it also worked with City Hall and the Police Department to coordinate parking for trucks outside the auditorium.
A crew of about 75 people will work on preparation and filming of the scene.
To access the inside of the auditorium for filming, the production company, Dreadnought HT LLC, needed approval from the Memorial Auditorium trustees.
Mr. Berard, Andrea Ajemian, executive producer of the movie and production manager, and Tom Mahoney, assistant location manager, met with the trustees Wednesday night to go over the plans.
All three have Central Massachusetts ties. Mr. Berard lives in Uxbridge; Ms. Ajemian used to live in Rutland and Worcester, and Mr. Mahoney lives in Worcester.
Ms. Ajemian said she was thrilled and appreciative of the auditorium trustees’ decision to allow the filming. She said the movie’s director was shown several buildings in Worcester for the scene, and the auditorium was his top choice.
“I’m a huge advocate of Worcester and it’s been a passion of mine to bring more films to this city,” said Ms. Ajemian, who has made several smaller independent feature films in the Worcester area. “It’s a dream come true to be able to bring a bigger movie to Worcester and to be able to use such a picturesque building as the auditorium. It will look beautiful in the movie.”
She said just about the whole movie is being filmed in Worcester, with some scenes being done in Oxford and Fitchburg.
Ms. Ajemian said the movie was originally planned to be filmed outside of Boston, but she made a case for Worcester instead, saying it is a “great location, film friendly and affordable.”
Early Wednesday, Mr. Neeson and film crews made a section of Main Street their stage, resuming filming of the movie after a stormy Tuesday off. Filmmakers, with help from a team of police officers, positioned cameras on Main Street at Foster Street.
The crew filmed on Commercial and elsewhere in the city all day Monday, apparently taking Tuesday off because of the rain. Onlookers were pleased to get a glimpse of Mr. Neeson on the downtown sidewalk.
One crew member said they expected to film in three locations in Worcester during the day, but could not say where the other locations were.
A few dozen people watched filming of a scene involving a street sweeper passing a classic Chevy Nova with Mr. Neeson at the wheel. Pat Olsen, who works across the street at the law firm Fletcher Tilton, said she was enjoying the excitement. She heard from a friend that the filming was taking place and decided to check it out.
Jessica Zukowski of Worcester said she was in the area for an appointment when she heard from a friend who works at a bakery on Main Street that there was a movie being made nearby.
“It’s great to have something like this happening here,” she said as she took photographs of film crews setting up another shot.