ROBIN SWEET: Castle Rock TV Series Producer Home At Last in Massachusetts

“You have no idea what’s happening here, do you?”

Well someone does and her name is Robin Sweet. She’s the producer of J.J. Abrams Castle Rock new TV series for Hulu Originals in production in conjunction with Warner Bros on stages set in the grand location of Orange, MA and in studios at New England Studios in Devens, MA.

Here’s the set up: “Castle Rock is a psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: Cujo, The Dark Half, IT and Needful Things, as well as novella The Body and numerous short stories such as “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption” are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.”

As we all know there has been so much pressure on Massachusetts to land a television series that will create an abundance of work for local talent and crew. Our goal is TV series that would be in production six or seven months a year and come back again and again. The last major TV series was way back in the 80s when Robert Parker written books “Spenser for Hire” (s not a c) turned out to be a hit starring Robert Ulrich. A bit of Deja vu as Spenser was also produced by Warner Bros.

When I learned that Castle Rock’s Producer Robin Sweet has been a resident of Concord, MA for nine years, I couldn’t wait to interview her. And it’s amazing how she got there (Concord) and how she got the job of producing “Castle Rock”.

Robin was born and raised in Atlanta. She went to school in North Carolina and then took off to New York City to get her MBA. Cautioned by her strict parents to be responsible and make something of herself and make a lot of money she went to work on Wall Street. She had been on an accelerated academic program so she was still very young when at twenty three she decided that Wall Street was not a good fit for her. She quit, went to work as a bartender, living off her retirement (retirement at age twenty three?) when a customer intervened in her life, literally.

And it went something like this: you have an MBA and know how to handle money. Why don’t you come on board with a friend of mine who is making a documentary film and let’s see if you can help out.

She did and it went well. As a result she was called by a producer who was making a short film with Cindy Crawford on Martha’s Vineyard. Wow, she thought, that sounds exciting and so off she went….

So you see, she fell into it. Robin said “If I were able to be the architect of my future career and life, I could not have done a better job. It was a perfect fit for me.” She loves the work she does. Her early work in film and television began in NYC.

Soon state sponsored film tax credits made it possible to produce anywhere, to live anywhere and travel to work in the business. Nine years ago her husband (a noted composer) was offered a position at Berklee College of Music and they moved to Concord, MA to raise their son in Massachusetts.

Of course, there are sacrifices she said. My work requires long days, extended travel for extended periods of time.

Robin Sweet was Emmy nominated two times as Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama in 2016 and 2017 as well as once for the same category by the Producers Guild of America for “Better Call Saul”.

She has worked in Massachusetts before. She line produced two Massachusetts productions previously and one was one of biggest budgeted films ever shot in the Commonwealth: Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day”. She also line produced EQUALIZER, which recently filmed its sequel here. Much of her work has been in Albuquerque and Atlanta.

She was just coming off two years producing “Better Call Saul” when her agent called her and said I know you usually like to take a few months off between assignments, but this one is set in your own backyard. You might like to take a look at it (Castle Rock).

Sissy Spacek
Still of Sissy Spacek in Castle Rock. Image courtesy of IMDB

Robin interviewed with “Bad Robot” and writers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason. “I loved the show. They asked me if I were comfortable bringing a TV show to Massachusetts being that there was no TV here, TV particularly TV series can be very demanding in many ways a feature film is not.”

She said she would be thrilled to bring a TV series here and looked forward to being close to home and sleeping in her own bed.

A TV series can be more complicated than feature film she explained. TV is a totally different beast. It needs an enormous amount of space with offices close to the production. J.J. Abrams and the writers scouted Maine for reference. The series was scheduled to shoot in Canada. But, when they scouted Canada they discovered Canada could not be shot for Maine. They then scouted Massachusetts and found the town of Orange. Imagine three guys in a van coming upon Orange in central Massachusetts where they found their Castle Rock. They fell in love with Orange.

Massachusetts locations will contribute so much to this series. Orange is the genuine article – the real McCoy if you will. Robin says all their locations are tremendous.

Bill Skarsgard Castle Rock
Still of Bill Skarsgård in Castle Rock. Image courtesy of IMDB
“It is so fortunate that New England Studios is only forty five minutes from Orange,” Robin said. “New England Studios is perfect. The stars definitely aligned for this project in Massachusetts,” she added.

Castle Rock is using three of the four NE Studios. Two with permanent sets and one filled with swing sets that are constantly changing and being rebuilt. Construction is a heavy lift for TV series. The day I interviewed Robin, the New England Studios’ huge parking lot was full to the brim.

“Daily there is a crew of 150 and an offset crew of about fifty – so we’re preparing a crew lunch for 200 to 250 people to say nothing of the actors and extras,” said Robin in answer to my question during our interview. All of whom are on payroll for six to seven months. And there’s a great extra story here as well.

Robin explained that one of the reasons she does this particular job is that she is always meeting a new group of creative and talented people; there are always new locations, new challenges. And she enjoys reconnecting with local crew she has worked with before and noticing how far their careers have come since she worked with them last.

She says the cast is lovely, kind, professional and that she enjoys that with every episode she gets to work with a new director. Remember when she is prepping a new issue, she is managing the one in production. It’s always a big job. But, now she gets to sleep in her own bed every night.

It is expected that Hulu will premiere “Castle Rock” next April.

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Karen Allen brings A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. to life

By Hartley Pleshaw

Award winning Actress directs her first film—in the Berkshires

If it were only for her appearances in two iconic films which have long since acquired legendary status, she would have a secure and admired place in film history. But Karen Allen has accomplished far more in her life and career than just her roles in National Lampoon’s ANIMAL HOUSE and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. She has given many memorable film performances outside of these two classics, and is an acclaimed stage actress and director.

For some who have accomplished so much over the course of four decades, it might seem like a good time to take a break, or, at the very least, to not venture into new creative territory. But Karen Allen has, literally, other ideas.

She has just completed her first film as a director, an adaptation of Carson McCullers’ short story A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. It was filmed in the region that Karen has called home for much of her adult life, the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.

Why, now, has she decided to direct a film?

“I started directing in the theater about ten years ago. I just found that I had a very strong sense of myself as a director, almost right away. I have worked with some extraordinary directors over the years, both in the theater and in film. I think I found myself very much intrigued by how directors worked with actors, how well some directors did their work with actors and how much of a struggle it sometimes was, and how easily a director can shut an actor down, by approaching something the wrong way, or by saying something the wrong way. This had been something that I had been particularly interested in.

“I really didn’t have any interest in directing a film. It’s not that it had never crossed my mind, but when it did cross my mind, I would sort of put it off to the side, as something that I probably wasn’t going to embark on in this lifetime. I felt that between acting and directing in the theater, and working as an actor in both theater and film that was really plenty of avenues for me to develop my creativity.”

“Then, I was sitting with a friend. He had produced a play I had directed in New York, and a play I had acted in in New York. He asked me: ‘Why not a film?’ We talked for a while. I said, well, if I ever were to do a film, I would want to do a short film, because I’ve worked so many times with first-time directors who kind of skipped that process. They never did a short film. They stepped into directing a feature fi lm for their first film. I watched them on the set. I watched a lot of very, very high-level challenges. I mean, that’s a steep learning curve!

“I just decided that if I were going to do something, I would want to do something that I knew well, that I had a strong feeling about, and that was a short film. “As the conversation continued, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud., which was a short story I had known for a very long time, emerged as an idea. It was
something that I began to talk about. (My friend) was very enthusiastic about it. I believe that he was quite familiar with Carson McCullers’ work, and although he didn’t know that story, he read that
story right away, and he very much encouraged me to go with him to the office of the attorneys in New
York City who represent her work, to see if we could get the rights.

“Before I knew it, I was embarking on a process which became the next three years of my life!”

The friend Karen had this conversation with was producer Brian Long, who, along with Karen and Diane Pearlman (see IMAGINE November 2016 cover story), produced A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. Although Karen had long experience as a stage director, she found that producing and directing a film was a very different experience.

“I told (Brian) that I felt that it was a very steep learning curve to direct a film, that it took place on a much larger scale. (It was) everything from raising the funds to hiring the crew to casting it to finding a location. I was used to the contained world of directing a play, where I almost always worked under an auspice. I would show up for the first day of rehearsal, work with a stage manager, my designers, my cast and sometimes the playwright, if it was a new play. That was my entire world.

“But in a film, you’re stepping into a much larger world. You have a camera crew. You have a sound crew. You have an Art Department. You have a Costume Department, not a costume designer.

“I was reluctant to think that that was something I would enjoy, or, on some level, feel like I knew
how to face the challenge of it. (Brian) was very encouraging, and I told him that, if I was going to do a film, I would want it to be a short film.

“He said, ‘Do you have any ideas?’ And I said, ‘There’s a Short Story that I know, A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud. that I’ve loved, for many, many years.’ I thought that it would be ideal for a first film, because there are only three speaking roles, and for the most part it takes place in one location. That seemed ideal for a first time film director.

“If you’re going to stick your toe in the water, I don’t think that it should be in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!”

The film’s location would indeed not be in such a faraway place. It would be in a place Karen Allen
knew and knows well: the Berkshires. (Sandisfield Massachusetts, to be specific.)

“It really had to do with having fallen in love with a particular location. When I go to the airport, I use the Hartford airport, which is the closest airport to me. I take a route kind of on back roads. On that route, I had for many years driven by a café. It was an old café. It had a lot of different incarnations. It was a store at one point, a café, a dinner place, a breakfast place.

“I watched it go through these different incarnations, but I never really stopped there. I always looked at it with one eye and thought, ‘That looks like the kind of café in A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud..’ It had to do with its age. It was built in the 1930’s. It had to do with its positioning; it’s literally twelve feet from the road. It’s a little road. It sits where two rivers cross each other.
And there was just something about it that grabbed me.

“I went by it dozens and dozens of times. One day, I finally pulled over, and said, ‘I’m finally going to look into this place!’ And I walked in, and wouldn’t you know, it looked exactly right—at least structurally, if not in the specifics—everything was there. The bar was where I imagined it to be, the booths were where I imagined they would be, the kitchen was where I imagined it would be. “I couldn’t help but make note that this little place was a kind of ideal location for a film that I hadn’t even thought of making yet!”

For A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD., Karen Allen got what she wanted from her actors.

“Jeff DeMunn, who I have worked with on stage, and whose work I have admired going back forty years, is for me a master actor. I knew he’d be wonderful in the role.

“(I knew that) James McMenamin, who I’ve directed twice in plays, would take what was basically a one-dimensional role on the page, and turn it into something much, much more interesting.

“Jackson Smith, who plays the boy—I had an instinct about Jackson very early on. His approach to being
that boy in that story was exactly what I felt it needed. He just approached it with a kind of openness, availability, a kind of calmness, a presence….the ability to listen. (He was) a real receptacle for that story, a rare quality to find in a twelve-year-old.”

Karen Allen’s debut as a film director hasn’t meant that she’s abandoning acting herself. In fact, she’s just completed work on a film shot at the other end of Massachusetts—Cape Cod.

YEAR BY THE SEA is based on a book by journalist Joan Anderson about Anderson’s decision to leave her husband of over two decades to live by herself in a cottage on the Cape, in an attempt to reconnect with herself and decide the course of her future life. Karen plays the role of Joan Anderson.

“She grows. She changes. She challenges herself, and she finds this sort of inner joy that was kind of
lacking in her life. She lets all the things that she’s been struggling with….fall away. And she began to see another person emerge. A person who has much more enjoyment of life, and who is much more real
and authentic. Not frightened, and not constantly concerned about pleasing other people. She took
these big leaps toward rediscovering herself.”

In terms of taking risks, doing new things and discovering what she might be capable of, it would seem to be a character that Karen Allen clearly identifies with.

The website for A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. is Its email address is

YEAR BY THE SEA opens in New York September
9th, Los Angeles September 15th and in Boston
and San Francisco September 22nd. Its website is

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26th Annual Woods Hole Film Festival Winners Announced

JAGVELD (Hunting Emma), WHAT CHILDREN DO and CITY OF JOY won top Jury Awards; CHARGED: THE EDUARDO GARCIA STORY won Best of the Fest Audience Award

The Woods Hole Film Festival, the oldest film festival on Cape Cod and the Islands, concluded its 26th year on Saturday, August 5th, with the announcement of this year’s winners at the Captain Kidd Restaurant in Woods Hole. Although the festival has historically focused on filmmakers from and films set in New England the festival has more recently expanded its international focus: all but one of the Jury Award winners this year is from or set outside the U.S.

WHAT CHILDREN DO (USA), a comedy written and directed by Dean Peterson about two estranged sisters who return to their home town to take care of their dying grandmother that features John Early (BEATRIZ AT DINNER), won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature-Comedy. JAGVELD (Hunting Emma), a thriller directed by South African filmmaker Byron Davis about a woman who is hunted by police after she witnesses a murder they commit had its international premiere at the festival where it won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature-Drama. Madeleine Gavin’s CITY OF JOY (USA), about the women’s leadership center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo co-founded by radical feminist Eve Ensler (THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES), won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature. CHARGED: THE EDUARDO GARCIA STORY (Mexico), a documentary feature directed by Phillip Baribeau about the eponymous chef and adventurer who slowly regained his life after being shocked by 2400 volts of electricity in a freak accident, won the Best of the Fest Audience Award.

WHFF Drone Trailer from John Gamache on Vimeo.

“We received more than 1000 submissions—from everywhere from Mashpee to Maine and South Africa to Sri Lanka—from which our programming committee selected 52 narrative and documentary features and 81 narrative, documentary, and animated shorts,” said Founder and Executive Director Judy Laster. “Consistent with our mission to support the careers of emerging independent filmmakers, more than 100 filmmakers attended the Festival, the majority of which were making their directorial debuts, such as RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK actress Karen Allen,” she added.

The “Survival Strategies for Independent Filmmakers” panel discussion moderated by Women in Film and Video/New England President Alecia Orsini that featured (l to r): actress and Berkshires resident Karen Allen (RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK), who made her directorial debut with the short film A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD., based on a short story by Carson McCullers (whose 100th birthday would have been this year), Boston born actress Catherine Eaton who made her directorial debut with the feature length narrative film THE SOUNDING, shot on Monhegan Island in Maine; and Boston-based actress and producer Elika Portnoy, who made her directorial debut with the short film THE 6TH AMENDMENT, about a reimagining of the Boston Marathon bomber jury. Documentary filmmaker Erica Frankl, whose documentary KING GEORGES was also shown as a special screening, also participated in the panel. Photo courtesy of WHFF.

Additional Jury Award winners include: Best Narrative Short-Drama: PROMISE by Tian Xie (China); Best Narrative Short-Comedy: RHONNA AND DONNA by Daina O. Pusic (UK); Best Documentary Short: PATAGONIA AXUL: THE INTERCONNECTION OF LIFE by Daniel Casado (Chile); Best Animation Short: A LITTLE GREY by Simon Hewitt (Mexico).

Additional Audience Award winners include: Best Feature Drama: BLUR CIRCLE by Christopher J. Hansen (USA); Best Feature Comedy: QUAKER OATHS by Louisiana Kreutz (USA); Best Feature Documentary: DATELINE SAIGON by Thomas D. Herman (USA); Best Short Drama: GAME by Jennie Donohue (USA); Best Short Comedy: THE FINAL SHOW by Dana Nachman, starring Marion Ross and Nancy Dussault (USA) Best Short Documentary: BLIND SHSHI by Eric Heimbold (USA); Best Short Animation: STARS by Han Zhang (USA);

Friends Susanna Styron (the late author William Styron’s daughter) and Karen Allen spoke after the screenings of their respective short narrative films: HOUSE OF TEETH and A TREE. A ROCK. A CLOUD. Photo courtesy of WHFF.

Jury members included: Feature Narratives: Future Films USA Vice President Ricky Margolis; Golden Child Ventures Producer and Attorney Sandy Missakian; and Circus Road Films Founder Glen Reynolds. Feature Documentaries: Principle Pictures founder, and award-winning director and producer Beth Murphy; documentary filmmaker, media studies lecturer, and founder of the UMASS Boston Film Series Chico Colvard; producer, director and Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University David Tames; and writer and producer Madison O’Leary. Short Narratives & Animation: documentary filmmaker, writer, and development consultant Megan Sanchez Warner (LOVE AND HIP HOP), House Lights Media co-founder Sandy Moore; producer and Bunker Hill Community College Adjunct Professor Howard Phillips; and Best Dog Ever Films producer and director Liz Lerner. Short Documentaries: Independent Film and TV Producer Jill Lutz; Producer and Documentary Filmmaker Jay Spain; and W2 President of International Sales and Distribution Julie Sultan.

For more information about the festival and awards, visit,, @WoodsHoleFF (#WHFF2017), or call 508 495-3456.

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Finish in Boston

Rob Bessette is winning awards and working on his fourth major motion picture in the last twelve months….

The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is doing amazing things in Boston these days. It is allowing local companies to get in on the conversation when it comes to big budget filmmaking. Companies like Finish Post, located downtown on Columbus Avenue, are leveraging this massively successful government program. Artists and entrepreneurs like Rob Bessette and Tim Montgomery are finding new and creative ways to get involved.

Finish has several edit rooms with many comforts for the client. Photo by Marc Graham.

The Film Tax Incentive is changing the dynamic and the industry is changing along with it. Once all the
talent and facilities were centrally located in NY or LA; they are now spread out across the country and the world including places like Boston. Critics of the Film Tax credit say it’s an unnecessary government subsidy, but no one can debate that subsidies are needed to stay competitive in this global market. Massachusetts’ incentive program is truly working to lift this industry locally.

Luring the movie magic to Massachusetts has always been a struggle for local shops like Finish Post.
Even when films would use the gorgeous backdrops of the Bay State for production, they would wrap
their shoot, put the negative in the can and overnight right back to LA for post. “Hollywood is not
an easy nut to crack,” Montgomery said. “The business of fi lmmaking is risky, the studios have their
pipelines in place and deviation from workflows increases risk. So getting new people or facilities
involved becomes a very difficult decision for them to make”.

That’s where the Film Tax Incentive comes in. “It’s given us a seat at the table and a chance to show
that we’ve got the skills, talent and infrastructure to do it just like NY and LA,” said Finish’s Senior Colorist, Bessette. And that’s not just lip service, Bessette is currently working on his fourth studio film in the last twelve months “They’re starting to know that we’re here… and we’re good.”

After a long day or when you plan a party, there’s nothing like a roof deck just one or two floors up. Photo by Dez Adkins

Color Correction, Digital Dailies and highend digital workfl ows are a few of the ways that Finish is doing it in this ultra-competitive market. Bessette uses tools like DaVinci’s Resolve to ingest camera files, grade the material, and output fully prepped bins for editorial. All the outputs are packed with meta-data and ready for the most robust pipelines in the industry.

Another avenue for growth as a facility is Finish’s has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed screening room. With a Barco DP2K projector casting to a seventeen foot screen and full surround sound; it is high-end viewing to critically analyze footage. “Our clients have put in a lot of time and effort to achieve the look of their footage. They want to see it with a very high level of clarity. Our minitheater is the perfect venue. It’s fun to see clients get excited about what they’ve shot,” Montgomery said.

Want to see how your movie looks on the big screen or rush your dailies, Finish has a room for that. Photo by Marc Graham.

The Film Tax incentive is stimulating the local film business and it is having a major impact on local companies with local employees. It’s a program designed to lure a highly competitive and lucrative industry to The Commonwealth. Oh yeah, they also have one of the top ten roof-decks in Boston. Not a bad way to unwind after a long day at the office.

Check out Finish and their capabilities at or email

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Film Tax Credits Working in Quincy

The City of Quincy, Massachusetts is known as “The City of Presidents” because founding father and second President of the United States John Adams and his eponymous son President John Quincy Adams lived here. John Hancock, a Quincy resident, successful merchant and a President of the Continental Congress was the first and most robust signatory to the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is considered one of the finest documents ever penned by the hand of man. He went on to lead the free Commonwealth as its first Governor.

This City of one hundred thousand proud current residents has quite the birthright and deserves to be in the spotlight of American attention. When men such as Adams and Hancock pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor it was not a light or trivial concern. Quincy is one of the building blocks of American success. Literally; the granite in their quarries was used to build our cities and Quincy citizens transported that rock on the Granite Railway. This granite was
transported to build, for example, the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. This was our nation’s first commercial railroad with access to the sea. Quincy also played a significant historical role in American shipbuilding at the Fore River Shipyard on Quincy Point.

Massachusetts own Academy Award winning Chris Cooper as Phil Woodward in THE COMPANY MEN. Scenes were shot in Quincy. Photo by Claire Folger 2010 / Weinstein Co.

Placing this City in the limelight again to remind the rest of America of its importance is a worthwhile endeavor.

The Massachusetts Film Tax Credit helped bring more than six major motion pictures to this worthy American City in recent years and there are more on the way. The Quincy delegation representing the City on Beacon Hill has been unanimous in unwavering support for the credits and these efforts over many years have paid off for residents and business owners alike on the south shore. We owe a debt of gratitude to House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, Representative Bruce Ayers, Representative Tackey Chan, and Senator John Keenan.

“For the last ten years Quincy has done a wonderful job creating a brand for its city and when a movie comes to town it just gets that much better.” – Owner of the Fore River Shipyard Dan Quirk

The Quincy Chamber of Commerce was an early supporter of the credits working with Mayor Koch. Mark Carey serves Media Communications in the mayor’s office. A working film professional, Mark facilitates filming in Quincy. They all have had success creating jobs for Quincy and boosting
the regional economy. The new Chamber President, Tim Cahill, is equally enthusiastic.

THE BOX stars Cameron Diaz who is presented with the opportunity to open a box for a million dollars — knowing it’ll cause someone she doesn’t know to die. A supermarket on Sea Street was used for a dream sequence. AP Photo/Warner Bros.
The production industry is currently our country’s largest net export to the world. No more fitting a place to expand than where it all began. The modern day owner of the Fore River Shipyard mentioned in Quincy’s illustrious past is a proponent of filmmaking and the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit. As a successful Auto Dealer on the South Shore with fifteen and counting dealerships, he is helping to develop the Bay State’s infrastructure for filmmaking.

Dan Quirk of Quirk automotive has a successful slogan for his businesses, “Quirk Works” to save you money. Outside his office is a sign stating, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The fact that more than six major motion pictures were shot here is not luck. It is a testament to the hard work of the elected delegation, residents and business leaders working together to make Quincy a film friendly environment.

My visit to Quirk Chevrolet to interview the auto magnate Daniel J Quirk. How did they get that pristine 1958 Corvette into his second floor office? An IMAGINE Photo.

Many major studio productions have found locations in the Quincy area including Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED, the 2006 Oscar winning movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson and featured the underbelly of the Irish Mafia. Nicholson’s character was assassinated in a scene at the Fore River Shipyard recalls the shipyard owner and Quirk Auto magnet Danial J. Quirk. He said, “I was amazed how many people, including my own two daughters, who stood in the rain and the dark to watch the scene shot overnight just to get a glimpse of Matt Damon.

THE DEPARTED, the 2006 Oscar winning movie starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson. Some scenes
from the movie were filmed in Quincy in the Fore River Shipyard, one where Jack
Nicholson’s character was assassinated. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Warner Bros.

“People are in love with the film industry,” he says. Quirk believes Film Tax Credits are a small investment to pay for the millions that are spent in our local communities. For example, Dorothy Aufiero’s THE FINEST HOURS spent fourteen months in Quincy and put a crew of 150 local contractors and construction specialists to work for the full fourteen months.

“There’s no better way to grow the brand of your own community. For the last ten years Quincy has done a wonderful job creating a brand for its city and when a movie comes to town it just gets that much better. Whether it’s catering, construction, equipment rental – we rent them trucks and cars. And the film people are great to do business with.” adds, Quirk.

Quirk’s Fore River Shipyard is just completing new construction in the Shipyard that includes a warehouse that will be large enough for location sets.

In addition to THE DEPARTED and THE FINEST HOURS written by local luminary Casey Sherman, Ben Affleck located scenes for THE COMPANY MEN, starring our own Oscar winning Kingston resident Chris Cooper, in Quincy. Kevin James filmed HERE COMES THE BOOM all around Boston including scenes in Quincy. GONE BABY GONE, The Oscar nominated film — starring Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Casey Affleck — used scenes from the Quincy quarries as two Boston detectives investigate the kidnapping of a young girl. The movie is based on Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

THE BOX shot in 2009 stars Cameron Diaz who is presented with the opportunity to open a box for a million dollars — knowing it’ll cause someone she doesn’t know to die. The movie focuses around the struggle whether or not to open the box. A supermarket on Sea Street, The Adams Shore Supermarket near Houghs Neck, was used for a dream sequence.

Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey star in the 2008 movie about six MIT students that partner together with their professor to become
expert card counters and try to take down Vegas. The true story filmed scenes in the Quincy Center train station. Photo courtesy of image link.

Business leader Dan Quirk has the aforementioned sign with his adage, which you can’t miss when entering his private office, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” The fact that over a half-dozen major motion pictures were shot here took hard work. Film Tax Credits are working for Quincy.

This great American city earned and deserves the spotlight. Keep shooting in Quincy. Keep Shooting in Massachusetts. Keep shooting in New England. There is much more to come.

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Etched in Glass: The Legacy of Steve Ross

by Roger Lyons

Steve Ross Dachau survivor
Holocaust survivor Steve Ross, founder of the New England Holocaust Memorial, is profiiled in the new fi lm by Roger Lyons, ETCHED IN GLASS: THE LEGACY OF STEVE ROSS.

Seventeen years in the making, my feature documentary about Holocaust survivor, Steve Ross, is rounding third base and heading for home. What started as a one-minute TV profile of a “Hometown Hero” turned into a multi-decade labor of love called ETCHED IN GLASS: THE LEGACY OF STEVE ROSS.

My assignment to produce a weekly, 60-second profile turned into my vision of a long-form documentary as soon as I met Steve Ross. My initial phone call to him lasted two full hours, as he recounted his harrowing experiences in the concentration camps. I was blown away…and hooked. I knew his story had to be told.

karen allen with roger lyons
Actress/director Karen Allen with Roger Lyons at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Allen won an award at the Festival as a first-time director (See her cover story in this issue of IMAGINE).

We met for an interview at the iconic New England Holocaust Memorial on the Freedom Trail in Boston. He brought photos from the bitter times and a little American flag that he was given by a US soldier upon his release from the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany. That fl ag ultimately led Steve to America to find the soldier who had shown him an act of kindness, and to work with
disadvantaged young people…to steer them toward education and jobs and away from trouble.

The production of this film encountered many bumps in the road. There were multiple starts and stops. Having to constantly scrape up funds put the project in jeopardy. The stock market crash, the Madoff Ponzi scheme and Steve’s health issues provided obstacles over the years.

But giving up was never an option. The saving grace may have been my meeting Tony Bennis, a fellow former WBZ-TV employee whose stint at the station never overlapped with mine. When I told him about the film, he was deeply interested in it, in part because Tony’s mother grew up in Lodz, Poland—the same city in which Steve Ross was raised. He’s become my shooter, editor, co-producer and shrink, picking up my spirits when the odds seemed too great to overcome.

Filmmaker Roger Lyons arrives at the opening night of the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

At one point, Steve’s son, Mike, told me that he and his father planned to take a trip back to Poland which we would film. I laid the groundwork for a week of shoots in Poland, finding a production company that offered facilities and transportation, and was working on getting permission to shoot at Auschwitz, but health problems arose for Steve and the financial state of the economy put the plans for the trip on hold.

Tony and I continued to set up video shoots to tell Steve’s life story. I always felt it was a story that would resonate with people young and old. It’s the story of how an act of kindness can have unforeseen circumstances. For Steve, it inspired resilience and the desire to do great things, as a sort of payback. In America, Steve was a force—a force for good and a forceful voice and advocate for young people in the Boston area for over forty years – first as a youth worker in the streets of his adopted city, and then as a licensed psychologist for young people in Boston schools. And, of course, Steve was the founder of the iconic New England Holocaust Memorial.

At one point I felt that maybe Tony and I should just edit a short documentary with the footage we already had. So we actually started cutting a short piece that we would post on the website,, if not somewhere else, like You Tube. I didn’t want the story to die in the dustbin of history

Then, in November 2012, I got a call from Mike Ross. He told me that Steve had been found by the family of the U.S. soldier who showed him kindness at the liberation of Dachau. There was going to be a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on Veterans Day and the family was going to meet Steve there. I thought to myself, “This could be Act Three of the film!”

Etched in Glass the legacy of Steve Ross premiere
Steve Ross with notable attendees at the screening of the film, ETCHED IN GLASS: THE LEGACY OF STEVE ROSS. Pictured from left to right are Steve Ross, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, former Boston City Council President Mike Ross, former Governor Deval Patrick, and filmmaker Roger Lyons.

So Tony and I went to shoot the ceremony on November 11, 2012. It was perhaps the most inspirational and emotional moment I could ever have imagined. Steve met the Sattler family, the descendants of the tank commander who had given young Steve some rations, a hug and the little American flag which Steve still has today. It’s his dearest possession.

The State House event sparked us to accelerate production on the film, aiming for a feature-length documentary once again. And we never looked back.

IMAGINE publisher Carol Patton with Roger Lyons at the sneak preview screening of his film, ETCHED IN GLASS: THE LEGACY OF STEVE ROSS at the West Newton Cinema.

Now, in 2017, production on the film is just about complete. We have been participating in the festival circuit, screening it at the Rhode Island International Festival in August and the Boston Jewish Film Festival on November 10th and 20th. We hope to screen it in several other select festivals in the near future, in part, to help us land distribution deals.

We have gotten wonderful feedback from people who have seen it, including a sneak preview screening at the West Newton Cinema. Public television stations have expressed interest in airing the film in the near future. We’re also connecting with a variety of fi lm distributors and are considering numerous platforms on which to screen it. The film has received kudos from many members of the press. An Associated Press article about the film was picked up by over 300 news websites around the globe. The Boston Globe and Brookline/Newton TAB published very positive stories, as did the Jewish Journal.

I have made TV appearances on WGBH’s “Greater Boston” with Mike Ross in Boston, plus Providence’s WPRI’s “The Rhode Show” and ABC 6’s local newscasts. Mike and I also were heard on RIPR, Providence’s NPR radio station. Tony and I plan to continue generating press coverage to help build interest in this vital film.

We’re developing a distribution and marketing plan to convey the captivating story of Steve Ross to as many people as possible, both domestically and internationally. And we hope that, in the future, we can also develop a curriculum that can help teach the lessons of Steve’s life.

Steve Ross never gave up and I won’t either.

Roger Lyons is a Boston based producer who has been featured in IMAGINE Magazine. He is also an IMAGINE “Imaginnaire.”




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Close Encounter: Imagine Group Meets the Magi Concept at Trumbull Studios

by Carol Patton

douglas trumbull magi pods
Magi Pods, a revolutionary new way to experience motion picture developed by special effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull.

Douglas Trumbull’s industry revolutionizing Magi project is on full display in the Berkshires

If you’re a sci-fi or thriller fan or movie goer who pays attention to or ever watched the Academy Awards, there’s no way you don’t know the name of legendary special effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, BLADE RUNNER, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE). He’s provided the magic of special effects for Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and more. He’s won Academy Awards and numerous other awards including, I’m happy saying, an “Imaginnaire.”

Trumbull was born with special effects in his blood. He is the son of Donald Trumbull, a mechanical engineer, who created special effects for THE WIZARD OF OZ. Doug’s early work began at Graphic Films in Los Angeles. The small animation and graphic arts studio produced a film called TO THE MOON AND BEYOND about spaceflight for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The film caught the attention of director Stanley Kubrick. Need I say more? Yes….

Stanley Kubrick asked Trumbull to work with him to give audiences a genuine experience of the future of space travel and artificial intelligence. That’s what Kubrick asked of Trumbull. And Trumbull delivered.

A group of IMAGINE readers and cinema enthusiasts arrived in the Berkshires to spend a day with this larger than life keeper of “special effects” lore. He embodies the institutional memory on the subject along with a few peers. It was a special day to remember filled with the work, stories, anecdotes and life experiences of Douglas Trumbull.

Click here to take the October 11th tour!

douglas trumbull special effects pioneer
A day with Doug Trumbull in his studios.
Doug Trumbull, Carol Patton, Karen Allen and
Diane Pearlman. Photo by George Marshall.

Trumbull, once again, is pioneering. This time it is the future of immersive digital media – the thrill and awe of “going to the movies” is about to be re-introduced to the world of cinema – the magic of Trumbull’s Magi project is readying to roll out. We expect this as it is not the first time, as Mr. Trumbull played a major role in developing IMAX and introducing it to the world. An awesome feat considering 70mm film and cameras are super expensive – the camera cumbersome. IMAX is still the very most popular way to see action movies in the theatre today. But, make way for Magi Imaging and Magi Pod.

douglas trumbull special effectsAs Hollywood keeps building tent pole, blockbuster, enormously budgeted movies, the actual theatre size and screens keep shrinking – so does the box office. What’s missing in this picture? Most everyone is missing the thrill of going to the picture show, the joy of going to the movies. We’re about to get it back.

Trumbull Studios has developed and patented a revolutionary new way to capture, edit, post-produce and project motion imagery for theatrical features, television, location based entertainment, and VR/AR mixed reality. Douglas Trumbull showed us a fundamentally new way to create and exhibit motion pictures. We are introduced to the future of movies by the innovator himself – we learned how movies will be made and then, all of us tucked into Doug Trumbull’s Magi Pod and after a brief introduction to the experimental movie we were about to view, we put on our 3D glasses and experienced the movies of the future. The screen itself is huge and curved and it sucks you right in.

The Magi Pod is totally a thrill. It’s the finest 3D ever seen. The magic number is 120 fps for capturing and projecting. Sound is around you with thundering 32 channel surround sound. Rotary subwoofers deliver powerful infrasonic sound and motion. And guess what? Your seat is involved – like you were on a ride. Put it all together and it is exhilarating beyond all expectations.

It’s interesting to note that Doug Trumbull created the special effects for Universal’s BACK TO THE FUTURE Ride, a simulator ride that was inspired by the BACK TO THE FUTURE film series. Universal spawned the ride in its Florida, California and Japan locations. And in Las Vegas, Trumbull created the special effects for the Luxor Hotel ride – depicting an Egyptian theme. I remember the hotel personally because of the ride, its beam to outer space and the inclinator (an elevator that rises diagonally) to my hotel room when I attended NAB.

And, one last thing, the Magi project has future medical and scientific applications as shooting,
processing and exhibiting at 120 fps – you see the absolute. There’s no mind tricking involved here.

IMAGINE is planning another trip to Trumbull Studios on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. If you would like to come with us, email me at and we’ll try to get you on the trip list. There’s only room for sixty and the cost is modest and includes a set style luncheon. I suggest you respond early if interested. The Future is now.

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About the September 2017 Issue

Imagine News September 2017 Karen Allen Karen Allen reflects on her first turn as a director with her short film A ROCK, A TREE. A CLOUD. She adapted the film from a short story by Carson McCullers and set the film in the Berkshires, where she calls home. But, finding the right location is but one of the challenges faced by a filmmaker. Casting the roles and then directing the actors is often the key to a film’s success—or failure. Karen Allen’s own experiences as an actor, and her previous directing experience in the theater, were her guideposts as she cast her first film.

“Of all things involved in directing a film, working with the actors is, to me, the thing I feel the most at home with,” she told IMAGINE writer Hartley Pleshaw. “Casting the roles, finding the right actor for the right role is a huge part of what the director does. If you cast the wrong actor in a role, you can stand on your head and sing ‘Dixie,’ and you’re not necessarily going to get a wonderful performance.

“There is a kind of mysterious synchronicity between an actor and a role. And if you as a director have a kind of instinct as to who can step into that character’s shoes, most of your work is done. You can stand back. You can give (the actors) a certain amount of guidance and support, but in the hands of the right actor, you not only get what you want, you get what you couldn’t have thought of yourself.”Read the full story in this issue by Hartley Pleshaw. Our cover photo was captured by Michele Eve Photography. Our cover design is by IMAGINE Design Editor Monique Walton.

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