2010 has been a big year in Hollywood East, with many made in Massachusetts films coming to the big-screen with much fanfare and success, as other future TV and film projects went to work in the Bay State, ensuring more New England flavor will be infused into Tinseltown’s productions for years to come. We took a look back at some of the major stories that you wanted to know about.
The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck, debuted at the Coolidge Corner Theater in February as part of the Sundance Film Festival. Writer/director John Wells sat down and talked to us about his film, which also co-starred Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, and Massachusetts native Chris Cooper, as a group of executives who were laid off in a corporate down-sizing. The movie had filmed in Boston and surrounding suburbs in late spring and early summer 2009.
Also in February, we got an update on the Plymouth Rock Studios, where we found out that the studio had been downsizing and moving ahead with financing efforts in an attempt to get the construction of the project successfully off the ground. Not much else has been heard from the studio since then.
In March, the Massachusetts state legislature made several attempts to cap the successful film tax credit program, putting various versions of the bill with amendments to vote, before finally laying it to rest in favor of the notion that capping the bill would limit film-making in the state, negatively affecting potential job creation that occurs as a result of these films.
In May, filming began of the romantic comedy, What’s You’re Number, starring Anna Faris and Chris Evans. Numerous casting calls were held in advance of production, calling for both union and non-union extras that were needed to fill the various wedding and crowd scenes in the film. Filming continued throughout Boston’s neighborhoods, including the North End, Back Bay, Financial District, and waterfront from mid-May to mid-July.
This summer and fall, we saw the first of a number of made in Massachusetts flicks get released, including Furry Vengeance, Knight and Day, Grown Ups, and The Social Network. Many of these films were shot in the area during the spring and summer of 2009.
In July, we spoke to Christopher Murphy, Film and TV Development Executive at MyTV New England, who formally announced a new distribution program that would help bring locally made TV shows and films to broadcast TV through branded entertainment and budgeting made in-line with already acquired funds. This new type of programming has already helped bring viewers around New England Debra Crosby’s Talent Quest TV show, and a new independent film series that will be debuting in February.
In September, Ben Affleck’s second directorial endeavor, The Town, debuted in theaters, co-starring Blake Lively and Chris Cooper. Affleck, who also starred in the movie, filmed the movie throughout Boston and Charlestown in the summer of 2009. The film is based on the book of the same name, and is set in Charlestown.
In October, the state of Connecticut announced formal plans to break ground on a $50 million studio sound stage that will also include a hotel, restaurant and shopping complex, and will create as many as 500 union construction jobs over the next year.
Earlier this month, The Fighter debuted at theaters, instantly garnering award-season buzz, starting out with 6 Golden Globe nominations. Starring Dorchester’s Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, the real-life story of fighter Mickey Ward was filmed in the greater Boston area in the late spring and early summer of 2009, and will continue to be a favorite as Oscar season draws nearer.
This month also marked the end of Nick Paleologos’s tenure as executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, as a recent bill passed in August that reorganized the duties of the office, and a new agency called the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership was created which will be responsible for the development and promotion of film and sports events in Massachusetts from 2011 onward.
Overall, 2010 marked a great year for Massachusetts, and Hollywood East in general, and we look forward to bringing you all the excitement to come in 2011!
Bevilacqua got her start after college working on fellow New Englander Kevin Undergaro‘s film Serial Buddies. The film was shot in Connecticut and produced by Massachusetts native Maria Menounos. From there, Bevilacqua went on to work behind the scenes of Brendan Fraser’s film Furry Vengeance. She had the fun job of filming behind the scenes footage of the animals and their trainers. During this time, Bevilacqua’s BFA film, Hide and Seek, also premiered at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and was recently featured in the The Rhode Island International Film Festival.
After working on larger scale productions, Bevilacqua moved back to her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, where she has been spending time improving her skills and focusing on her own productions. She has shot weddings to hone her camera skills and worked on lighting design and theater work.
Bevilacqua recently started a personal documentary and lesbian web series titled Anisha and Justine Do…, some of which are now available to watch online. She plans to start shooting the rest of her 24 episode season this upcoming month. On her filmmaking experience so far, Bevilacqua says that, “I want to make my own films and it’s almost scarier . You gotta hustle make money to make a movie.”
Bevilacqua cites her family as an important factor as to how she has been able to stay so involved in film while living in Rhode Island. She considers herself “blessed to have a family of filmmakers” and advises others to “try to get whatever jobs you can get” in film and to either use any equipment you can find or go to a film school, where you can take advantage of their resources. Bevilacqua also reminds others that it is “all about networking” saying that “in Rhode Island I think it is important because unless you know people, it’s hard to get work.” So, if you’re in an area where it might be hard to work on films, find like minded people who can work with you to make movies.
In the future, Bevilacqua has plans to make her feature and get certified to teach film. She cites teaching as a passion of hers and already mentors students at the Carriage House Stage & School, where she shows high school students how to edit and use cameras. In fact, she got her first grant to make several shorts with the kids at the non-profit program.
Check out Justine’s many videos and keep up to date on her film endeavors on her webpage. Below is a trailer of her award winning short Hide and Seek.
A slew of Massachusetts-filmed movies began hitting theaters in February and continue to roll out this summer. Furry Vengeance hit theaters last Friday coming in at number five in the box office. The kid flick chronicles a standoff between titan real estate developer Brendan Frasier and some cute and not-so-cuddly woodland critters fighting to keep their habitats preserved. Furry Vengeance also stars Brooke Shields. The Lightkeepers, starring Richard Dreyfuss, opened in March. Set in early 20th century Cape Cod, Dreyfuss plays a reclusive lighthouse keeper who has sworn off women.
Summer blockbusters Grown Ups and Knight and Day are both due out June 25th, but that’s not the only thing they have in common. Both were filmed in Massachusetts, but that’s about where the similarities end. Grown Ups features a star-studded cast headed by Adam Sandler, Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Maya Rudolph, and Tim Meadows (whew!). The group reunites as adults after their high school basketball coach dies and inevitably hilarity ensues. Knight and Day pairs up Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz on an action-adventure with a tinge of comedy. The two play a globetrotting fugitive couple on the run who realize nothing is what it appears to be, even each other.
The Social Network (Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake) and the The Town (Ben Affleck and Blake Lively) are due out this fall. Every college kid will identify with The Social Network with its history and evolution of ex-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg’s creation of Facebook (which has its roots in Cambridge). In The Town, Ben Affleck is a bank robber who’s feelings for a bank manager get in the way of his next heist.
Set to come out in 2010 with no official release dates are The Company Men and The Fighter. Ben Affleck is having a busy year, also starring in The Company Men along side Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones which premiered earlier this year. The Fighter (Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, and Amy Adams) takes a look at boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward’s early career in the 1980s. Local actress Erica McDermott also makes an appearance.
It seems like no matter where you look this year, there’s a good chance you’ll see Massachusetts in many shots on the big screen!
When it comes to movie making, Pembroke, MA resident, Kathleen Fitzgerald does it all. When she’s not directing, writing, or producing a film through her production company, Poverti Productions, Kathy is flexing her acting muscles on the set of locally shot films such as Shutter Island, or last year’s Furry Vengeance, and Ben Affleck’s The Town as an extra.
Among the feature films and shorts she has produced are: Messiah, Ring Of The Bishop, Out In The Dark, Magical Portals, Nathan’s Rebellion, The Ancient, A Joker’s Card, A Matter Of Choice, Chaotic Breakfast, A 9/11 Remembrance, and For The Troops. She has written over a dozen scripts and she is currently working on a feature documentary entitled Killer Mom From Outer Space and the epic tale, Mikayla-The Second Coming.
Kathy attended the Hollywood Film Institute and is a registered television producer. She has been affiliated with local organizations such as the Harvard Square Scriptwriters, Women In Film & Video, and the Mass Media Alliance. We caught up with this multifaceted industry talent to find out what it’s like doing it all.
HEC: How did you get started in your career as a director/writer/actor/producer?
I’ve always written down ideas for a movie. That means I have dozens of saved ideas in my file cabinet and all over the house on scraps of paper. From the age of five, I always went to the movies on the weekends (Mom needed a break). So you can understand that I was, basically, brought up in the industry. And knowing what I wanted to see, I always wanted to direct. Most writers do make excellent directors because they write as they direct and direct as they write.
HEC: How has your training helped you?
Most of my talent was inborn. Formal training has made me understand the scope of making a film, showing me that there’s a team that makes a film, not just one person — not an A-list actor, not the director, not the writer, but everyone from the background actors all the way up to the producers. With that, I show respect to those who give respect to their craft and their co-workers.
HEC: What professional qualities are important in doing this type of work?
For acting, you have to know how to emote the feelings that are required in the scene. It has to be real, or look real. Otherwise you’ll take the audience away from the story. For directing and writing, again, know the emotions, but be able to relay what you want the actor to know or the audience to feel.
HEC: What are the best and worst parts of being a director/writer/actor/producer?
The best part of being a writer is that the reader can identify or be pulled into the lives of the characters…if written properly. The hardest part of writing, to me, is making up names that fit the characters, and getting a block because the characters are not talking to me. If they don’t, I have to find the problem and re-route the story accordingly. Or, tear it up and start a new one. Also, reading and re-reading to check for typos and continuity can be a real strain. Sometimes you just have to take a couple of weeks off to clear the mind.
Basically, it’s the same with directing. If I’ve done my job, the audience will be sucked into the film and become part of it emotionally. The audience/viewer must ride the coaster with you, next to you, or it won’t have any meaning. Your work will be a waste of everyone’s time and money. If you have a sucky attitude, as if you alone make the product, instead of one that acknowledges that it takes a team to make a film, it will show in your work. Actors will dislike you, and the word will get around that you’re hard to work with. It’s the same with acting. You must remember that you are human and that you must always try to do your best. After all, your name is on the product you deliver.
HEC: What advice do you have for someone trying to get work in this field?
After doing all your homework and studying, you must realize that you have to toughen your psyche. There are so many naysayers as opposed to approving nods that you might want to crawl into a box and never come out. But do stay out in the open, because there are so many films and actors that have made it big by sticking to their ideals and ideas. Just keep up energy the it takes to push yourself forward in the business.
If you’re ready to make a budgeted film, hire experienced (and to your taste) crew. If you have the experience around you and you learn from them, it is well worth it. Making your own, you’ll see your mistakes, learn and grow. Much cheaper than a full college education.
HEC: What has been your most memorable work experience thus far?
My most memorable work experience? That’s hard to answer because so many experiences were memorable. Each team of actors and crew were so talented, humble and professional, that they became family to me. Albeit one or two bad apples. (They’re always around to test your patience.)
For acting, I think it was Shutter Island. Well treated, well paid, well fed, and I got to be near and work beside a few actors that I consider acting heroes/idols. Of course, working under Scorsese is an honor, too. Almost everyone treated you as if you worked there…just like themselves. I met only two snobs on the set. Not a bad ratio at all.
Soon to hit theaters, the Massachusetts-filmed family comedy, Furry Vengeance, starring Brendan Fraser, Brooke Shields, and Rob Riggle. The movie, which is actually set in Oregon, follows the story of a real estate developer, played by Brendan Fraser, who finds that his latest endeavor is being protested by the native forest animals upset at having their homes disturbed by the construction. Hilarity ensues as Fraser’s character endures countless assaults by all sorts of woodland creatures, great and small.
Taking advantage of the state’s generous tax credits, the movie did most of its shooting in Boston, Topsfield, Danvers, and Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts during the summer of 2009. In addition to bringing big-name stars to the Bay State, this is the first of two animal themed comedies to film here last summer that will be released in 2010. The other, The Zookeeper, starring Kevin James, filmed mostly at the Franklin Park Zoo and will be out in theaters this October.
Furry Vengeance also stars Angela Kinsey and Ricky Garcia, and is slated for its theatrical release on April 30. Were you an extra on this film? Tell us about it!
Watch the trailer here:
As more and more movies have turned to Hollywood East for filming locations, Boston has become quite the celebrity hub. Combined with the number of stage shows, traveling theater, concert venues, world class hotels, world-renowned universities, and high-profile sporting and charity events, Beantown’s ability to attract the A-list crowd is significant. With stars ranging from former SNL castmembers, to popular movie actors, to reality show winners, lately, it seems like there’s no telling who you could run into walking down the streets of Boston these days.
Here at Hollywood East Connection, we’ve heard about a variety of celebrity sightings over the past year. These stars have been spotted all around town by fans. Singer Seal was seen in Boston’s Public Garden. Actress Natalie Portman was in town in February for a friend’s wedding in Cambridge. Brooke Shields was spotted in her off-time from shooting Furry Vengeance at a number of South Boston eateries. She wasn’t the only one sampling local eats, funnymen Denis Leary and Lenny Clark grabbed lunch at the Four Seasons last spring, and Grown Ups costars David Spade and Colin Quinn were seen this summer grabbing a bite at Sel De La Terre. We even caught Lady GaGa’s make-up artist shopping at the Pru.
We’ve also heard from up-and-coming stars from the New England area about their experiences on set with all the big names. Local talent Bradley J. Van Dussen checked out Robin Wright Penn’s piggy toes on the set of Empire Falls and in his first-time movie role, teen actor Anthony O’Leary talked baseball with Ben Affleck on the set of The Company Men. Movie extra Kathy Fitzgerald recently shared with us details of her experience on the set of the the Martin Scorsese directed Shutter Island. She tells Hollywood East Connection:
“I worked on Shutter Island as a criminally insane person and was right on the side of the path that Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Max Von Sydow, and Sir Ben Kinglsey walked down. With the many takes of Leonardo walking down in his ‘detective’ costume, he and Mark kept looking at me with a quirk. I knew what it was, but could do nothing about it. Finally, after about 7 takes, and a ‘cut’ yelled out, Leonardo looked at me again and asked…”What’s with the curl?” Then they both started laughing. All I could say was…”That’s what they did to me, what can I say?” The hair people took my bangs and put them into one curl in the middle of my forehead, while the rest of my very long hair remained normal, if not nice and shiny.”
Whether its accidental encounters on the street, or more professional experiences with fellow actors on set, there’s no doubt that Boston has become quite the hotbed for celebrity activity. As the summer shooting season is about to heat up, we want to hear your stories about your close encounters of the movie star kind on the streets of Boston and its surrounding areas. Email your sightings, and snapshots to [email protected]!
Lately, there’s been much debate over the state of Massachusetts’ film tax credit and the benefits to the local economy. Well here’s one business owner who felt a direct impact from last year’s local feature filmmaking.
Master Aesthetician and celebrity makeup artist, Maria Lekkakos of the award-winning M. Lekkakos salon, spa, and boutique in Wenham, MA, had the fortune of providing her skincare services to celebrity actors, Brooke Shields, Rosario Dawson, and Salma Hayek, just to name a few, during the filming of Grown Ups , Furry Vengeance and Zookeeper last year.
Raised in Rockport, MA, Maria trained under a top aesthetician in Greece, learning techniques and using products that are different from what is used in the U.S. While there, she networked herself within the local entertainment industry and started doing makeup on some of the country’s most popular entertainers. Upon returning to the U.S., she was often called upon to do work for them and eventually opened her own spa and salon. In 2004, Maria was crowned Miss Massachusetts USA and she has since been recognized by celebrities in the U.S. and many others in the beauty and fashion industry.
We met with Maria to hear her story and get a glimpse of her celebrity facial. Watch it here:
HEC: How did you get started in your career as an aesthetician?
I was really born with a passion for skin care. In school, chemistry was one of my favorite subjects. I was also a beauty product junkie. From a very young age, I would buy different beauty products at the drugstore and mix them in my mom’s kitchen.
HEC: How has your training helped you?
Tremendously. In addition to my formal education, I traveled, which was invaluable. Through my travels, I used a lot of different product lines and many different techniques, learning what works and what doesn’t.
HEC: What professional qualities are important in doing this type of work?
I think attitude and personality are very important. Aestheticians have to not only be confident in their work, but to also click with their clients.
HEC: What are the best and worst parts of being an Aesthetician?
For me, the best parts of being an Aesthetician are being able to show people what’s new, what works and what’s hot. One of the more difficult parts of doing this type of work is helping a client to understand that it takes teamwork. Sometimes clients don’t want to commit to a regimen, which can make our job more difficult.
HEC: What advice do you have for someone trying to get work in this field?
That being successful is about getting as much experience and education as possible, even if it means working for free, so that you can build a clientele. Most new aestheticians don’t realize just how much time, effort, and work it takes to establish oneself.
HEC: What has been your most memorable work experience thus far?
The entire experience of working in Greece on celebrities and working on movie sets has been memorable. Preparing actors for certain scenes and then seeing those scenes on the big screen or stage is very rewarding.
On Friday, CBS Films released Extraordinary Measures to theaters, a film that chronicles a father’s journey to find a cure for his children’s debilitating illness. The movie costars Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. As first reported in the Boston Herald,
“the film is based on a true story that has its roots in Boston, but the city and Genzyme Corp., the company that found a treatment for Pompe disease, aren’t in the film.”
The disease, which is also known as glycogen storage disease type II, seriously hampers the body’s ability to break down stored sugar, when progressed, can leave its victims unable to eat, walk, or breathe on their own. Cambridge based scientists at Genzyme Corp. that worked on trying to find a cure for this horrifying condition are excited by the notion that this story is coming to the big screen.
“I hope it increases awareness not only of these diseases and gives more hope to people with other rare diseases.” Dr. Robert Mattaliano, a vice president at Genzyme told the Boston Herald.
Brendan Fraser’s character was based on the real-life John Crowley, a Harvard Business School graduate who quit his job to launch a biotechnology company in Oklahoma when he learned his young son and daughter have the disease. Years later, a drug treatment was successfully brought to the market, and the Harvard Business School and a Wall Street Journal reporter both published works chronicling Crowley’s inspiring journey. Crowley’s own memoir will be on bookstore shelves soon.
Despite Extraordinary Measures not being filmed in Beantown, star Brendan Fraser is not unfamiliar with making movies in the Boston-area. This past summer, he spent much of his time in the Bay State filming Furry Vengeance, costarring Brooke Shields, and is set to be released in April.
The trailer for the made-in-Massachusetts flick Furry Vengeance was recently released, showcasing a handful of Greater Boston area filming locations. Crane Beach, Danvers, and Topsfield were among the cities that the cast and crew frequented last year during production.
The comedy follows real estate developer Dan Sanders (Brendan Fraser) as he carries out his latest project: a shopping mall that threatens to wipe out a nature preserve. When the locals–raccoons, porcupines, and a huge grizzly bear–learn of the plans, an all-out battle of man vs. wild erupts. Dan’s wife Tammy (Brooke Shields) and son Tyler (Matt Prokop) are caught in the crossfire, and must help Dan realize the inhumanity of his efforts.
Furry Vengeance has partnered with the Take Part campaign in hopes of further promoting the film’s message of environmental action. Check out the site to see how you can contribute to wildlife protection efforts.
The movie is tentatively scheduled for theatrical release on April 2, 2010; be sure to check out the sneak peek below.
Brendan Frasier is at his comedic antics again with his new movie, Furry Vengeance, which began filming this week in schools and businesses in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
According to movie websites, the film will star Frasier as a real estate developer who relocates his family from Chicago to Oregon in order to build a new housing subdivision. This expansion into the Oregon wilderness will pit Frasier’s character against a plethora of woodland creatures angry at the human encroachment into their territory.
Directed by Roger Kumble, whose work also includes Just Friends, The Sweetest Thing, and Cruel Intentions, and written by Michael Carnes and Josh Gilbert, the cast of Furry Vengeance stars film heavy-hitters as well as actors new to the business. Aside from Frasier, the cast thus far is slated to include Brooke Shields, Ken Jeong, Dick Van Dyke, Matt Prokop, Skyler Samuels and Samantha Bee. The movie release is scheduled for early April 2010.
So for any New Englanders that are fans of the cast or what promises to be a heart-warming, lesson-learned comedy, head down to Topsfield in the upcoming weeks for a chance to get a glimpse of this movie being filmed.
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