A blog about movies and the Sturbridge area, including The Brookfields, Brimfield, Charlton, Holland, Wales, and Spencer as well as adjacent towns.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brunch With Team Cruelty

UPDATE:Kristen and Monica will be on the radio with Jim Polito at 8:07a.m. Friday, October 31. Tune into WTAG, 580 AM.

Last Sunday Team Cruelty came together at the National Grill in Sutton for a brunch. Not all the cast was there. The actors and actresses present were the California contingent. It was a pleasant morning to talk movie making.

The pictures you see are the work of Tony Colapietro,

The first actor I spoke to, Joseph Eid plays Michael Sullivan, a policeman. Stereotypically, police officers on screen are Irish and Joseph’s character does have a Hibernian name. Joseph, however, looks more like he might be from County Lebanon. True enough, his family is from the Levant. He is pleased to be on location, “It’s not like on a lot, it’s real.”

From New York City, Joe grew up in the suburbs. He started med school, but that was not to be his calling. Like most of the actors, he does have to make ends meet. To that end, he does freelance office management.

Ryan Jones is Tommy Brown. Ryan worked with Kristen in LA and was asked to read for the part. Relatively new in the business, he must have impressed. By the end of the month, he will have acquired significant experience in film.

A crew member from the West Coast was also there. Caitlin O’Hare is the wardrobe stylist and costume designer. She had to coordinate the clothing worn by the cast. According to Caitlin, if a film has a large budget, they will go out and buy what is necessary. In the case of Cruelty, financial reality required going through the closets of the performers and utilizing their clothes. She did make the waitress’ costume for the diner scene and the shadow costume.

Caitlin graduated from the Academy of Art College in San Francisco with a degree in fashion design. She is no flash in the pan having known as a child what she wanted to do. She said, “I would be happy sewing for the rest of my life.” Caitlin also commented about the vagaries of making a living in the film business, “either you get a gig, or you don’t get a gig.”

“Team Cruelty” from the post title is more than just a term. This was emphasized by cast member Kat Kaplan who portrays the devious Terra Lisker in the film. Kat was enthusiastic about the bonding the cast is doing. As they are out here in Massachusetts, living together, the cast does not split up and go home at the end of the day. She notes that the group has a selflessness toward each other. At the start of filming the first scenes were tentative as the actors were playing opposite people they didn’t know weli. Now she feels lucky they are all together. Kat also noted how naturally Kristen and Joe work together as partners (their roles in the movie).

Kat and a girlfriend comprise the Short Bus Bunnies comedy troupe. She describes it as old school comedy, but bawdy.

The two impresarios, Kristen Zaik and Monica Green, were also there. I had spoke at length with Kristen, who plays a detective, in an interview for the Sturbridge Times Magazine’s October issue (click on link to the right). Today, I got to hear more from Monica.

Monica and Kristen knew each other in Boston, but really clicked as friends in LA. Monica was moving West when her housing fell through. Kristen’s boyfriend was an old friend of Monica’s and she was able to find a place to crash.

They were introduced to the Cruelty project by a writer not in a position to pursue it. He trusted them to see it through and they have been working on it for a year. They have persevered through the sea of obstacles that face anyone who is trying to produce something in the current economic conditions. Still, by August things had gone too far. There had been too much press and the partners committed. It was do or die.

So the team came home for a working vacation in October. Kristen and Monica are Massachusetts natives and they have garnered much necessary local support for Cruelty. Monica said, “without local help and support, it couldn’t be done.”

They sought the help of over 100 people, family and friends. Typical of local support was the high school scene. Filmed at Sutton High with many local extras showing up, the Sutton Women’s Club provided food and facilities for the cast and extras. Also a great help was the Sutton Police Chief who even let them use his office for a scene.

A fortunate connection they made was with Sean Doyle and Baker Street Productions based in Arlington, Mass. The team is co-producing Cruelty with Kristen and Monica, lending their own Josh Leonard to direct. The assistant director they brought with them, Paul Speziale, has fit right in with Josh and Baker Street.

So, it is all coming together. At the National Grill, Monica looked a vision of tranquility. I was taken aback when she answered the question about making a movie in a three week time span and she answered that it was “ludicrous.” Well of course it was, but still they are getting it done. What amazes even more is how young they are. Monica is only 22 and Kristen 26 and they have taken the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Whether it was insanity or courage, is by now, beside the point.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cruelty Update

Having never been on the set of a real movie, I jumped at the chance to be an extra on the set of Cruelty. Cruelty is the project of local actresses, Kristen Zaik and Monica Green. I have writen about the project for the Sturbridge Times Magazine October Issue, link to the right and the Cruelty web site link is there as well.

Last Tuesday evening at Thirsty John's I was background with a few others as one of actresses is talking with an actor whom she is enamored of and whom she has been having an affair with. Wednesday, I was part of the background of the funeral scene at the Oak knoll cemetery. Both locations are in Palmer. Sean Doyle, Jeff Paolone ran the show and Josh Leonard directed. There were others who deserve notice, but my memory fails.

There was a lot to learn and though my knowledge of the film industry is not exhaustive, even after two sessions of movie making, I can offer some insights.

Acting is work, even for extras. Of the actual production staff, the poor fellow who had to hold the sound boom has quite a job. There is a lot of hurry up and wait. I am sure the director and production folk have worked a lot of it out, but planning beforehand can only take you so far.

As part of the hurry up and wait, you have to be a very social person. I am not a grand champion schmoozer so I don't think I am cut out for that life. Don't get me wrong. I didn't have a bad time. There was a lot of fun talking and joking with other extras and some of the of the production folks. Still, I know that more stamina then I possess is necessary to be in film.

Take after take is necessary to get the smallest segment of dialog translated to a finished scene. Attention to detail is necessary and the first 5, 10, 20 takes may be needed to get it all right. Eventually, they get it done. It is as high a level of skill as most trades and many professions.

Another problem, from the point of view of a gourmand, is the food. Now, ribs and wings are food groups unto themselves and I was happy to partake of them. There was no lack of candy. Just too much temptation.

So, I know Brangelina et al seem to be just foppish publicity hounds and they probably are. Publicity, after all, is coin of the realm in that industry. Don't envy them, though, they probably work a lot harder than you do.

Cruelty will continue filming in Sutton, Mass.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rimscha Concert Series Returns for Fourth Season

The Rimscha Concert Series has returned. The first offering, featuring the choirs of All Saints Church, Worcester. I had the pleasure in attending last Saturday and it was great.

Helen and Peter Morin have put together quite a series. The full schedule is below.

The Metro Sax Quartet, Saturday, November 15, 7:30 PM

Lessons and Carols, featuring the Brookfield Brass and combined choirs of St. Anne’s and St. Mary’s (Southbridge)
Saturday, December 13, 7:00 PM and Sunday December 14, 3:00 PM

Marimba and Piano, SUNDAY, January 18, 3:00 PM, International marimbist Fumito Nunoya

Jane Shivick, Saturday February 22, 7:30 PM

No March Concert

Violin and Piano, Saturday April 25, 7:30 PM, Helen Morin, violin, Peter Morin, piano, with special guest musicians

The concerts take place in St. Joachim’s Chapel on the grounds of St. Anne’s Shrine in Sturbridge.

For information call 508-347-7338

There is no ticket price but donations are appreciated and if you wish to be a sponsor, below is the address.

Rimscha Concert Series
16 Church St
Fiskdale, MA 01566

I'll have a full article in the Sturbridge Times coming out November 1.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

High School Just Got a Lot Creepier-teaser from Oldbury Hill is out

High School Just Got a Lot Creepier is on one of the photos from the Halloween Party at Oldbury Hill. I always thought High School was a Gulag and by definition creepy, but the webisode series is going to take it to a new level.

Anyway, below is a teaser for the webisode series.

Find more videos like this on OurTvSpace.com

Learn more at Oldbury Hill Village.

OurTvSpace.com will be up on Halloween.

Just remember this was filmed in Sturbridge. Oh, and none of it is real. It's just a webisode and could never happen in real life. Or could it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Opposition to Film Tax Incentives

From a New York Times article,

October 12, 2008
States’ Film Production Incentives Cause Jitters

“There’s no evidence yet that this is a particularly efficient or effective way to create jobs,” said Noah Berger, executive director of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.

The nonprofit center reviews budget and tax policies in Massachusetts, which is spending about $60 million a year on producer credits. A recent study by Mr. Berger’s center pointed out that the state’s film credit, at 25 percent, is five times higher than that offered to those who build in designated economic opportunity areas, and more than eight times the state’s standard investment tax credit.

In the words of Winston Churchill, "True but not exhaustive." The incentives cost the state money only if it could be proved that a certain film would be made even in the absence of the credits. If more films are made, there is a net gain in tax revenue even with the tax breaks. How much of an increase in revenue is created when we get another policy talking shop like the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. My guess is zilch.

The film industry may not be the next Digital Equipment or Wang Labs, but where are they now?

It would not be a bad idea to have your reps and senators email addresses handy. Here's a link.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cruelty happened last night, but no one was abused!

Last night, Friday, October 10th Team Cruelty got together at Thirsty John's in Palmer, Massachusetts.

No, this was not a group of torturers. Cruelty is a movie about to be filmed in Palmer and Sutton, a fair ride east. Some of the performers were there including the lead, Kristen Zaik. Also there was Monica Green. Kristen and Monica are the impresarios behind the production.

Also there were the Baker Street boys. The members of the team present were co-producer Sean Doyle, Director Joshua Leonard as well as Sound Engineer Jonathan Santarelli. I am surely in trouble as others were there and my memory is not good enough to recall the names.

Taking care of assigning extras was Caitlin Erin O’Hare. Caitlin is coordinating the costumes to be worn during filming.

I got to talk with the couple behind OurFilmSpace.com, Doug and Melinda Kirkpatrick. I hope to interview them for the December 1st issue of the Sturbridge Times. They have actually brought filming to Sturbridge. The Oldbury Hill Webisodes will be up at
www.OurTvSpace.com on Halloween.

This blog will keep you posted on the progress of Cruelty.

I apologize to anyone I met and whose name my faulty memory did not retain.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Local Movie Review-A Civil Action

A Civil Action was filmed partly in Palmer. Palmer could be a smaller version of Woburn, where the environmental damage took place. The Town of Palmer had its share of factories and mills that are now gone.

The Palmer scenes were of John Travolta looking at the Quaboag River from his Porsche and having a legal epiphany that there is a case that can make some money.

Not to beat the drum for local movie making.... Well, yes, I do want to beat that drum as often as possible. Palmer and all the towns here are good venues for movie makers. If cost is a problem, here is where we can contain that. They are building studios in Plymouth and maybe South Weymouth. If you want to do a scene outside the studio, there is much congestion to deal with that is not as big a problem here. Yes, it’s quiet, but if you are desperate for congestion, we’ll all get in our cars and give you that as well.

Palmer is strategically situated with a Mass Pike entrance.

I got the movie out of the library specifically for the Palmer footage. Even so, I enjoyed it. Travolta did well as the cocky Jan Schlichtmann. Jan is a personal injury lawyer who oozes sleaze at the beginning of the film. As the Woburn case proceeds, it takes over his personal and professional life. Financially sinks his small firm and sends him to bankruptcy court.

Schlichtmann never attains a happy medium. It is a study in hubris. He is today idealistically engaged in environmental law. One hopes he has reflected more than portrayed in the movie.

America’s most famous gangster, James Gandolfini, played a local working class guy who refuses to go along with his employer’s coverup of the pollution. Doesn’t do a bad job playing someone from North of Boston.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vote for Grand Trunk!

The Grand Trunk is a finalist for some funding. Nature Valley's Save the Trails project will award $5,000 to the Trail Blazers if they get enough votes. Help them by going here and voting.

Note, I had some trouble voting on my under powered Mac but was successful on a PC. Keep trying.

Hat tip Thinking Out Loud in Sturbridge

Monday, October 6, 2008

Location-Old Sturbridge Village

I was less than ten at the time. It was in the late 50s. My family was on a trip to the other end of the world. Well, that’s how a kid perceives it when you are going from South of Boston to the middle of Massachusetts. Finally, we arrived. When we got past the entrance, I was emancipated for the day.

What a day it was. I spent it fascinated by the different crafts and the interpreters describing how things were done. I still can remember watching the blacksmith heat metal until it turned red and then fashioning a horse shoe. The print shop was equally enthralling.

A mischievous child, this was one day I was no trouble to anyone except when it became necessary to drag me away. When we walked out of Old Sturbridge Village that evening, I left another world.

It is that other world aspect that is the subject of this post. Now that there are generous tax incentives for filmmaking in the Commonwealth it has become cost effective to make movies here. If one is going to make a period piece there is only one place to do it. Where else can you step back into the 19th or 18th Century. Heck, if the Village were amenable, even the early 20th Century is possible. There were not that many rural paved roads for the Model Ts and Stanley Steamers to travel on.

OSV has an advantage that is rare these days. In an article for The Sturbridge Times last June, Ann Lindblad, marketing communications director for OSV made the case,“There is no asphalt, no utility poles, and no light pollution.”

Sturbridge Village is at the junction of major highways and within reasonable distance of Bradley and other airports. There are ample hotel rooms in the area. OSV has been part of movie making already. Some of Glory and Michener’s Hawaii were made there. In May of 2007, a short film, The Ride, about Paul Revere’s trip was filmed in the village.

One other aspect of filming at OSV, accuracy. As the press release for the ride put it, the Village has a long history of working with film crews to insure the accuracy of historic settings.

So if you run into any producers looking for a location for the next colonial era epic, you know where to send ‘em.

Pictures are courtesy of Old Sturbridge Village. Click on image to see it full size.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Saturday at the Farmers Market

Yesterday was as fine a day as one could ask for in Fall. The air was crisp. The Sun, while not searing and alternating with clouds, was warm enough to give me some color. It was great day for the Amherst Farmers Market.

Finally, I had brought honey to sell. My table was next to Bob's orchard. As I mentioned in The Sturbridge Times article about the Market, Bob Rondeau came over and introduced himself to me the first time I came. A very friendly fellow, Bob, now 86 is not as active as he was. His daughter Carol and granddaughter Jessica were selling for him. His son-in-law Richard, who does a lot of the orchard work was there as well for a short time.

Bob's Orchard is in Palmer, near enough to our area. Unfortunately, they have no sales at the orchard. They had a real winner yesterday in the Honey Crisp apples they have to sell.

It is a pity that a farmers market as good as Amherst FM does not exitst in our area. There are some that are trying. Brimfield is in the shadow of the famous antique shows and the Brookfield Market, Sundays at the Tip Top Cafe is trying, but not there yet.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The October Issue of the Sturbridge Times is Online

The October Issue of the Sturbridge Times Magazine is out. The print version has been distributed and the mag is online as well.

To view it in pdf form, click here. You can read my articles by going to the pages as outlined below:

Page 13, MAKING CRUELTY Indie horror flick gives a local twist

Page 14, Smith & Jones’ CREATEATHON works magic for Opacum Land Trust

Page 20, My regular column, Musings from Long Hill. This month, Six Degrees of Alger Hiss

I hope you will read and enjoy the whole magazine.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Location-West Brookfield Common

We intend to highlight some of the great locations for filming in the area. This is the first effort.

In a way, I feel I am betraying myself by posting this. You see, I don't want people to move to WB. It is a nice, well kept secret. No, don't come here to live, but if you need a typical New England town common for a location, this is it. It is part of the reason we moved here.

The West Brookfield Common is a lovely spot that is enhanced by the houses that surround it. The Congregational Church also complements the scene.