Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Last Fall, I read an interesting bit of trivia about a group of Hollywood operatives who wanted to start a movie studio in Plymouth MA. Yes, that Plymouth. Or Plimoth. Whatever.

Perhaps the chilly weather made them revert to dormancy so we didn't see much of them during the Winter, but the crocuses are blooming and the Plimoth Producers seem to be pumping on ye olde Public Relations Bubbler.

They're very busy with their website. And their website. And the webpage for their reality teevee series, called The Series. And a bunch of "initiatives." Which include, apparently, mentioning "the Commonwealth" and "economic catalyst" about 800 times per sentence. I am delighted that thousands of people will be working at the ROCK, filming on the fourteen sound stages, producing and post-producing at the facilities, production and post-production facilities, which will provide "producers with the opportunity to shoot exterior scenes of their productions on site, on the streets of London, Rome, Los Angeles, Paris, New York and Beverly Hills."

And, they'll be green, too.

As an extra who knows about standing in line in a middle school parking lot, crawling into moldy-smelling trailers and handing in hastily-scrawled apps that claim I know how to speak Italian or ride a llama, the very existence of a real studio nearby is a very welcome bit of news. If only because I know that they'll have people sitting at desks telling the moms of tap-dancing seven-year olds that although the outfits are cute, they're only calling for edgy hair types. And none of the sides mention any edgy hair types who are seven and can tapdance. But we'll keep your headshot and resume just the same.

Many production companies have used locations in New Bedford for many years, going back to Elmer Clifton's 1922 "Down to the Sea In Ships." I'm sure there were others. But Clara Bow and the Quaker Meeting house down the way were in that one. I know of several instances where I had to alter plans because somebody wanted to film some historically-barely-accurate nonsense on the cobblestone streets behind my museum.

Or the times when I had to participate.

But those were larks. Larks that usually paid fifty bucks a day, a place in line at the cold cuts, and a warm bottle of water. I wasn't looking for the work.

Howbeit, if they had believed the part about the llama, I would have made "special talent" pay.

After jumping ship last century, I stowed my gear in Tiverton RI and my neighbor was a graphic designer who couldn't get work anywhere around here. Because there just weren't any jobs. But he went to L.A., rode an elevator with one of the Farrelly Brothers, and now he's a big exec on the Left Coast. Of course, he could have ridden an elevator with one of the Farrelly Brothers in Warwick RI, but fate works in these ways.

What I'm saying is that many of the area's best young minds have left for New York, Los Angeles, and other places where film-making, theater, hair design, and the like, thrive. Except for the utter nonperformers who "learn" community theater assistant-directing and 35mm film-editing and then get discouraged because they can't use an Avid and nobody hands them a million-dollar job and a free beach house. And you know whom I mean, little missy.

The SouthCoast -- long before it was known as "SouthCoast" -- has always been a one-industry town. Hell, the SouthCoast doesn't even understand the economic contribution of the arts in the SouthCoast. Unlike Los Angeles, which is also a one-industry town, local residents don't get the concept of "support industries." Can you imagine the costumers who worked in these mills? The restaurants, printers, historical consultants, writers with an insouciant but appreciative sense of the absurd?

John Fitzpatrick (in today's Standard-Times) seems to have read the same articles I've cited above, and John's spinnaker is full for the Plymouth ROCK project. I agree with John -- as I often do -- but I'm still only flying courses as we leave port.

I've watched local Film Companies fizzle while local Film Commissions publicize shows that are set locally but filmed in Canada. I remember when Joan Rivers was going to build a huge studio complex somewhere in Rhode Island. When Donald Trump was planning on doing so in Providence. You get the idea.

I'll believe it when we're taking lunch and developing a treatment at Sam Diego's on Main Street.


karie said...


it may not be what you are hoping for, but it's something...

ThirdMate said...

IFF is a film festival, which people attend and watch. Passively. (Except for the brainiac question-and-answer discussions and celeb-watching.) But Plymouth ROCK will be producing items that will be shown, if all goes the way they're selling it.

What the SouthCoast is now is a consumer market, with no production. We just watch, starry-eyed, the film economy and buy the product. We don't participate, except as scenery.

We should welcome our new imperialistic Hollywood overlords. And bring some talent to the table, unless we just be another market in the exploitable colonies.