PAWTUCKET — Once again, the humble buildings and streets of Pawtucket will serve as movie stand-ins for places in a more major metropolis. Over the next few weeks, film crews will be in and around the downtown, shooting scenes for an independent crime drama, set in Boston, that its supporters hope becomes a major motion picture.
Eoin Walsh, location manager for the production, said the working title of the film is called “God Only Knows.” “But this will probably change,” he said. He described the project as “a Mafia movie...a crime drama” based on a screenplay by Boston-based writer Emilio Mauro. The film is being directed by James Modern and produced by Matt Chausse.
The story line is set in Boston's North End, but most of the scenes, about two-thirds, will be filmed in Pawtucket and about a third in Providence, said Walsh. “We're on day four of a 20-day shoot in Rhode Island,” he said. The crew plans on spending just one day filming in Boston to get some key location shots, he added.
The movie features veteran tough-guy actor Harvey Keitel, of “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” fame, actor Slaine from “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone,” actor Ben Barnes, best known for his role in the”The Chronicles of Narnia,” and actor/singer Leighton Meester, who starred in the TV show “Gossip Girl.” Local wiseguy actor Armen Garo, an East Providence Police lieutenant who counts roles in the TV shows “Brotherhood” and “The Sopranos” and the movie “The Departed” to his credit, also plays a part.
Emilio Mauro said he has been writing screenplays—usually crime dramas--for about five years. He has previously sold a script for a TV series, and has been involved in other independent film projects. He said that many of the key people involved in his latest project, ranging from the producer and director to actor Slaine and some of the other cast members “are my friends. I'm doing this with people I've met through the industry,” he said.
On Friday morning, film crews had set up at the corner of Dexter Street and Exchange Street, where they were filming scenes in the large brick building that houses apartments on one side and the Theresa Landry Dance Studio and other businesses on the other. Walsh said for one particular scene, the residential portion of the building would be subbing as a Boston area college dormitory, where actor Ben Barnes was to be shown waking up after having spent the night there with a young woman.
Other scenes are to be filmed in the Cala Fruit building, located across the road on Dexter Street, and in the city's municipal parking garage. “We're shooting a scene later this afternoon where there is a mob hit on a lawyer in the garage,” said Walsh.
Walsh said he expects the editing of the film to take place throughout January and February, and, if all goes well, a possible release by late spring or early summer. He said the movie is being made here due to Rhode Island's film tax credit program, something which he feels strongly should be maintained so Rhode Island can stay competitive with other states that are competing for the movie business.
“If we don't have film tax credits in Rhode Island, we don't have movies made in Rhode Island,” said Walsh. “It's important that Rhode Island remain competitive. People spend money here, spread their wealth...it provides jobs and helps the local economy. Otherwise, filmmakers will just go to Massachusetts or other states.”
Walsh added, “I have to thank the city of Pawtucket, especially its Police and Fire departments, which have been very cooperative. And I want to give a special shout out to Herb Weiss (Pawtucket's Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer). Without his assistance, this wouldn't have been possible.”
Weiss said that Pawtucket has an application process for anyone wishing to film a TV show or movie in the city. City officials want to encourage such ventures, but ask in the application process for a description of the type of project and what it involves. “This way we know if they are using weapons or something like that, ” he said. “We want to know, basically, what it is going to be about.”
Weiss also noted that any such project helps the city's economy by bringing in people who will spend money. “Local stores, such as hardware stores, may be used for nuts and bolts types of purchases, local restaurants are usually asked to provide food for the cast and crew, things like that. It's a win-win,” he said.