Summer Production Sizzles in CT
By Ellen Woolf
It was a normal Connecticut summer -- languorous afternoon sails, hopeful fishermen staking claim to sandy patches along the rocky shore and the contented hum of freshly waxed cars. As hazy days segued into humid nights, Greenwich hosted secret meetings of the CIA, a shiny new Acura mistook Tressor Boulevard for the Autobahn, Middletown traded spouses, and a reluctant psychic assisted a murder investigation in New Milford.
Sound more like fodder for a Sunday evening soap? Well, sort of … it’s all in a summer’s work for the film, television, and commercial producers that flocked to CT to see their creative visions take flight. July and August 2005 welcomed a score of independent and feature films, TV series’, and high profile commercials – all having a positive economic impact upon the Nutmeg state.
Farmington made quite a splash on reality TV with Nick at Night’s “Road Crew” tubing down the Farmington River and a classic fish-out-of-water story on a new episode of Trading Spouses. Meanwhile, an hour away, “The Best Damn Sport’s Show Period” wreaked their unique brand of havoc upon Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun.
One morning, rush hour traffic in downtown Stamford made way for a speeding Acura with a film crew and camera car in tow. Later in the day the national production was off to New Canaan for more of the same. Park Pictures, LLC’s location manager, Larry Horodner reported that the company had an excellent experience filming in the state. “Every one couldn’t have been nicer and more friendly”. Director Tim Hope liked the clean, modern look of downtown Stamford and found the perfect country road in New Canaan.
Stealing most of the spotlight; however, was Robert De Niro as director of the espionage movie, “The Good Shepherd.” Starring Angelina Jolie and Matt Damon, "The Good Shepherd" tells the story of one of the founding members of the CIA, spanning the first 40 years of the Agency's history. According to Universal Pictures, Damon plays Edward Wilson, "an exceptionally bright and talented son of privilege who is recruited from the campus of Yale University to join the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA." Jolie co-stars as Damon's wife. Filmed partially in Greenwich, this feature is expected to be released next summer.
Independent filmmakers find a host of resources within Connecticut’s rich bounty of locations, crews and talent. Emmy award-winning writer/director Chris Ward found exactly what he needed in Connecticut for his suspense thriller “Person of Interest.” On the CCT Film Division’s recommendation, the Naugatuck Railway Museum served as the setting for the murder mystery's opening scenes, while the New Milford quarry hosted a pivotal moment in which a body is pulled from the river. Additional scenes were filmed in Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich.
Setting up camp in and around New London, resident and director Nick Checker of Nightshade Productions tackled the questionable morality of a “throwaway” society in his short, docudrama “Trashed”. The fictional tale follows Autumn, a downtrodden twentysomething, who finds herself homeless after the city seizes her apartment under the pretext of eminent domain. Featuring a largely local cast and crew, Checker hopes to debut “Trashed” in film festivals and at Niantic Cinemas before the end of the year.
“FilmCAMP: Reel 1 “The beast is out of the can!” is the brainchild of the newly formed Nutmeg Pictures. Shot entirely in High Definition at locations in New Canaan, Norwalk, and Stamford, including the historic Avon Theatre Film Center and The Roger Sherman Inn, “FilmCAMP” marks the first collaborative effort by New Canaan-based screenwriter Joanne Powell, and Stratford director Garret C. Maynard. This feature-length comedy is about a successful Hollywood director who is accused of financial irresponsibility by his corrupt producer and "reassigned" to work at Short Reels Film Camp with a bunch of bratty, entitled, and out-of-control kids. Powell expects “FilmCAMP” to be available by summer of 2006.
As the season came to a close, filming on "The Big Bad Swim" wrapped nearly 3 weeks of production in Eastern Connecticut. “The Big Bad Swim is definitely more of a feel-good comedy,” says Dan of Four Act Films. The ensemble comedry/drama starring Jeff Branson from “All My Children” focuses on the fears of 3 adults taking swimming lessons for the very first time. Filming locations included Connecticut College, Mohegan Sun, Lyme, Old Lyme High School and Schechter's parents' Old Lyme home. Schechter and Setton plan on submitting "The Big Bad Swim" for acceptance at the Sundance Film Festival.
The summer of 2005 saw a range of projects completed, and Autumn looks equally busy. The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism Film Division will host a number of film, television and commercial productions in the coming months.