PAWTUCKET – “The Purple Rose of Darlington”? “Everything You Wanted to Know About One-Way Streets but Were Afraid to Ask”? “Bullets over Broadway II”?
No title has been picked for Woody Allen’s next movie, but location scouts have looked at several spots around Pawtucket as possible settings for the film scheduled to go into production this summer.
Allen is notoriously secretive about upcoming film projects and discloses few details about them until a picture is ready to release.
“The producers asked me not to divulge anything,” said Steven Feinberg, executive director of the RI Film and Television Office, adding “they will be filming in July and August and they are still making a lot of decisions. It’s just beginning.”
Herb Weiss, Pawtucket’s economic and cultural affairs officer, is the city’s point man for filmmakers looking to shoot in the city said scouts have been here to “kick the tires and take some pictures of properties,” visiting sites such as City Hall, the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center on Main Street, the Deborah Cook Sayles Library and the former TK Club.
Weiss said a movie production coming to town can be a shot in the arm to the local economy.
The next step, Weiss said, is that they will take those photographs “back to the director and the powers-that-be and they will determine the best spaces available.”
Weiss says it is his job to “give the location scouts a dog-and-pony show around town, show them different sites, because if I can get them hooked on a location, then that location can ask for a location fee. If it is a big movie, it could be thousands of dollars.
“It’s a form of economic development because it helps local businesses,” Weiss said. There is also a need for overtime details for police and firefighters, the cast and crew eat at local restaurants and, if there is an extended shoot, they stay at Rhode Island hotels or sometimes rent a private home for the duration of a shoot.
When a previous film, 2009’s “Tanner Hall” used the TK Club building for its shoot, it gave the club an approximately $10,000 location fee that kept the struggling club going for a time before it was forced to close.
“It truly has an economic impact,” he said.
Besides that, Weiss notes, “it would be really nice to see an image in a Woody Allen movie and know it was shot in Pawtucket. That would be cool.”
Weiss said he is not sure whether any other Rhode Island locales outside of Pawtucket are being considered for the film.
Piggybacking on a process used by the state film and television office, Weiss said the city of Pawtucket has a permitting process for filming in the city. He recalled that, several years ago a Rhode Island School of Design crew was shooting a movie in Providence. When bystanders saw masked men with guns (the actors) going into a convenience store they called police who treated the incident like a robbery. The permitting process, free of charge in Pawtucket, is meant to prevent such misunderstandings so movie scenes don’t get confused with real life.
Also, Weiss says, “we want to know where things are being shot because it gives us a feel for the economic impact of a film in the city. It can then give the state agencies that oversee tax credits an idea of what happened in Pawtucket.
Rhode Island’s Film and Television tax credit has been cut back in recent years. There is now a $5 million limit on the 25 percent tax credit a production gets if 51 percent of the movie’s total budget is spent locally or if 51 percent of the shooting days are at Rhode Island locations.
The 1996 Dustin Hoffman film “American Buffalo” is probably the most prominent feature lensed in Pawtucket, using several Times Square location and closing a portion of Broad Street for several days.
Other movies have been shot, Weiss recalled, at Hope Artiste Village, Blackstone Studios on Exchange Street, the former Paramount Cards factory complex. Weiss had a walk-on role in the movie “Feeding the Masses” which he says was about “zombies taking over the world.” He played state Sen. Herb Billington.
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