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!
★ Ben Affleck’s love letters to Boston; this time in The Company Men.
★ Supermodel Gisele Bundchen reads to kids in Boston.
John Well’s directorial debut, The Company Men, which filmed in Boston last summer and debuted at the Sundance Film Festival screenings at the Coolidge Corner Theater in January, was recently purchased by the Weinstein Company and has set its sights on wide distribution this fall. The film, which co-stars Massachusetts natives Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper, follows the tale of a group of highly paid executives whose lives get turned upside down after massive company layoffs.
The film received decent, though not glorious reviews at Sundance, and its been rumored that the Weinstein Company has been involved with Wells in terms of re-editing the film so it will be more suitable for a wider audience in preparation of hitting movie screens nationwide. The movie should ring true to audiences still experiencing mass joblessness as the economy continues to struggle to recover from a recession.
From Living in Cinema:
According to the statement, the deal involves “a mid seven figure P&A commitment as well as a substantial theatrical release.” Considering the timing and the commitment and considering that it’s the The Weinstein Company, you can assume they’ll be making an Oscar push for this one.
Wells, who also wrote and produced the film, is rumored to have partially financed the project. The film also stars heavy-hitters Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, and Maria Bello. The film is now set to hit theaters across the country on October 22.
Fall is just around the corner and with it comes Boston’s Ben Affleck in The Company Men. The film sports a star-studded cast, with Tommy Lee Jones, Craig T. Nelson, and Kevin Costner rounding out the headliners as they portray familiar times by many who have been hit by the recession.
This one should hit close to home, as it resonates with the corporate downsizing and economic pitfall American has been thrown into for the past two years. Affleck plays a white-collar suit who all the perks that come along with his six-figure salary who suddenly finds himself without a job. Where Affleck dons white, his brother (Costner), dons blue, and offers him a job as a construction worker to help support his family during the tough times.
The film, which premiered at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA, highlights the lives of three men who undergo the effects of corporate downsizing, not only on themselves but on their families and community as well. If there ever was a city to highlight the blue-collar worker, it’s Boston. The Company Men filmed around Roxbury and in the suburbs of Wellesley and Framingham.
John Wells, who worked on shows such as “ER” and “The West Wing”, debuted his first directed and original feature film at this past Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews. Even though a movie about downsizing could be a depressing reminder of reality, could it be the next Up In The Air? See if Affleck and crew can hold up to George Clooney and Anna Kendrick’s Oscar nominee, in theaters October 22nd.
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!
Directed by Allen Coulter, Remember Me stars Robert Pattinson, made famous by his role as the vampire love interest in the Twilight Saga, and Emilie de Ravin, who had her breakthrough role on the ever-popular show “Lost.” The two play young lovers who begin an affair, which is kept secret from their families as their love continues to intensify. Remember Me is about their struggle through the increasing tension of the situation that threatens to tear their newfound relationship apart. Pattinson has the role of the troubled bad boy who falls for the daughter (Ravin) of the cop who arrested him earlier in the movie. Also in the film are Hollywood names Pierce Brosnan and MA local Chris Cooper, each playing one of the youngster’s fathers.
Residing in Kingston, MA, Chris Cooper has done nothing but wow audiences over his long and diverse career. From his challenging role in American Beauty to his Oscar winning performance in Adaptation to his more recent role in The Company Men (which was shot almost exclusively in Massachusetts), Cooper has proven time and time again that he is one of the most talented and versatile actors working today.
Having darker and racier scenes than audiences may be used to with the English heartthrob, this film gives Robert Pattinson the chance to show another side of his acting abilities. With two promising young stars in the leads and two experienced actors as their respective father figures, Remember Me looks to be a movie that viewers are sure to remember.
Remember Me opens nationwide on March 12th, 2010.
14 year-old Norton, MA native Anthony O’Leary is not your typical teenager. While the charming young man might play pitcher in his local little league, and even dabbles in juggling, what really makes him remarkable is the fact that he can currently be seen holding his own on the silver screen with Academy Award winners Ben Affleck and Kevin Costner in The Company Men. The bright-eyed young star recently took time to talk to Hollywood East Connection about his experience working on his first motion picture, and what it’s like to share scenes with an Oscar winner.
HEC: When did you first become interested in being an actor?
It was about 3 or 4 years ago that I decided I wanted to be in TV commercials. I wanted to be on television. So my mom helped me get into a modeling agency, where I did some print work, and I also did a commercial that aired in New York. I also have done some theater in my town.
HEC: How did you get the role in The Company Men?
The modeling agency in Boston I have called me about the part, so I went in and auditioned. When I got called back, I had to do my scenes with John Wells, the director. The I got called back for a third audition, and I found out I got the part about 2 weeks after I went in for that. The whole process took about a month. After the second audition I felt like I had a real shot at it, but after the third, I really had no idea. When I found out I got it, I was speechless. When we got the call, my family was sitting down at the kitchen table, and they told me I got the part. All I could do was keep smiling, I really couldn’t believe it.
HEC: How did you prepare for it?
Because I didn’t have my manager until after the film, my mom and dad helped me run through lines. They weren’t that hard to memorize. I only spent about 10 days on set total. John Wells is a phenomenal director. He used perfectly understandable words to help me know how I should feel in a scene and act it out. He really is a great guy; one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.
HEC: What was it like working with such big-name stars?
When I got on set, I didn’t expect Ben Affleck to give me the time of day. I really didn’t expect him to talk to me as much as he did, but we talked a lot about sports. We talked about baseball; I guess he’s a pretty big Sox fan. He asked me if I play, and I told him I’m a pitcher, so he asked about what pitches I threw.
HEC: What was the most surprising thing you learned about working on a movie set?
I wasn’t expecting it to be as easy as it was. Everyone always says ‘don’t look at the camera’, but its really not that hard at all. I expected a lot more confusion, but John Wells made it very easy. The entire crew was so amazing, they all know exactly what they are doing and they do it so fast, its very interesting. Overall it was just a really fun, great experience.
HEC: What was your most memorable experience working on the film?
Life itself on the set, everything that was happening on the set, was so interesting. Sometimes we didn’t have to get everything done right away, and the people around the set would tell jokes to pass the time. One time I was juggling on set, someone came and started juggling too. I talked a lot to some of the medics, they gave me a lot of advice about things, like for the future, I should take clips from the movie to send on future auditions.
HEC: Would you like to work on more movies in the future?
I’m hoping to do more movies and have more opportunities in the future, because I really like it a lot. Working in movies is something I really want to get into. I’m lucky because my friends joke with me about it, say things like“hey what’s up movie star”, but no one has tried to be my friend just because I’m in the movie. I have true friends, and it feels really good to know that. Going into the movie, to see it for the first time, I was so nervous, I didn’t know how I was gonna look. Seeing myself on the big screen for the first time was weird, I didn’t think I did that well, but my parents said I did. The second time felt better, I think I got over my nerves, and was a bit more used to it.
HEC: Any final thoughts on your experience with The Company Men?
Just that John and Ben were so nice, I thought that was amazing. Really everyone on set was so nice and so supportive, from my very first day on set. I was absolutely so nervous, I had to listen to my iPod while we were driving there to the set. But as soon as I got there, John Wells and Ben Affleck talked to me, and made me feel at ease and like I belonged.
Last Thursday night, we attended The Company Men premiere and we interviewed the film’s director, John Wells. The made-in Mass film was one of eight films picked for the Sundance Film USA World Premiere and where better to screen it then the famed Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline.
The snow that came down heavy at times didn’t stop any of the movie goers from arriving early to get a good seat or the press who waited for the red carpet arrival of writer/director John Wells. Hollywood East Connection was one of the first to spot Wells, who was dressed casually and gave us a friendly wave. In fact, we were one of the few press selected to sit with him for an exclusive camera interview. Watch it here:
Thursday night’s sudden snow squall was nothing compared to the flurry of activity at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, as the Sundance Film Festival USA’s world premiere of The Company Men took place, starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kevin Costner. Writer, producer, and now first-time director John Wells was in attendance, and sat down with Hollywood East Connection before introducing the locally shot film to a packed theater.
Wells, whose previous projects include writing and producing long-lasting, hit television shows like “ER”, “The West Wing”, and “Third Watch”, stacked his deck well with his directorial debut. Aside from the A-list cast, the humble 6-time primetime Emmy winner spent years researching and writing The Company Men, despite the fact that its relevancy is practically ripped from today’s newspaper headlines. Though the cast features 3 Oscar winners (Affleck, Costner, and Chris Cooper), Wells maintains he did not write the roles for these specific actors, though they were all his first choices.
“Luckily, they were all anxious to do something about what’s going on. For artists, its gratifying to do something that you can see as relevant.” he told the audience in a question and answer session that followed the film.
Though he originally began writing the film during the .com bust several years ago, and even shopped it around production studios, it was deemed not relevant enough at the time, and it got kicked around in the years that followed, before Wells incorporated new material derived from interviews he conducted since the economy crashed a year and a half ago.
“I wanted to bring a dignity to it without being sensationalist or disrespectful to the experience” he said. “I talked to many people who were having a rough time but maintained that it was a tragedy with a small ‘t’.”
Still, the havoc that the economic crises has wreaked on the people who lost their jobs as a result left an impression on Wells.
“There was this leper colony sort of mentality amongst the people that were laid off. A sense of shame, but an individual shame, because they felt like they had lost their chance at the ‘American Dream’” Wells said.
When asked why he chose Boston as the city where he filmed his movie, Wells confessed he originally wrote the script to be set in Philadelphia, only to find that the “City of Brotherly Love” could not provide all of the settings necessary for scenes featuring abandoned manufacturing buildings.
Wells said of Boston “The city is beautiful, and everyone we encountered here was very cooperative. The tax incentives were helpful, as we were looking at cities where they were offered in order to make our budget. We also found great cast and crew from the area. There’s also a lot of great restaurants here–I ate a lot!”
In fact, The Company Men special effects team featured the talents of Jay Stone, and first-time local actor Anthony O’Leary, who we’ll be featuring here in an exclusive interview. For more from the multi-talented director John Wells, look for our upcoming video interview this week, only on Hollywood East Connection!
2009 was a busy year for the Massachusetts Film Office. The plethora of movies that shot within the Bay State’s borders brought everyone from Academy Award winners (Ben Affleck and Kevin Costner from The Company Men), famous funny men and women (Adam Sandler, David Spade, and Maya Rudolph of Grown Ups, Kevin James of The Zookeeper), a former boy-band-er (Justin Timberlake of The Social Network), and celebrity Scientologists (Tom Cruise of Knight and Day, along with wife Katie Holmes). Thanks to the 2005 film tax credit signed into law by then Governor Mitt Romney, and newly revived under Governor Deval Patrick starting in 2007, Hollywood is finding new incentives in bringing their projects to the Northeast. Under this law:
“…studios, producers and filmmakers–who either shoot at least half of their movie or spend at least half of their production budget in the Commonwealth–are eligible for a tax credit equal to 25 cents for every new dollar of spending they bring to Massachusetts. No caps. No limits. No pre-authorization. No pre-certification.”
The MFO was first established in 1979, as one of the first official state film offices in the country. Since then, they have worked with filmmakers by providing resources in order for them to bring their projects to the Commonwealth, such as assisting with location scouting, housing, and crew referrals. Led by executive director Nick Paleologos and director operations Mary Chiochios, the MFO website features links for potential filmmakers to find information on town permitting, production guides, and information on the tax credits, as well as links to articles from both local and national publications covering Massachusetts-related entertainment news in television and film. Currently, their home page is spotlighting the latest edition of their digital magazine, covering in-depth articles on the effects of the tax incentives. Check out their website for that and more on the importance of this ever-growing state office.
You can subscribe to HollywoodEastConnection.com by e-mail address to receive news and upates directly in your inbox. Simply enter your e-mail below and click Sign Up!