Lights, Camera, Action!
By Mary E. Arata
10/30/2009 07:32:30 AM
AYER -- Eight survivors rounded the Columbia Avenue
corner of Town Hall and trudged down Main Street. Dead bodies were strewn along
the sidewalk. Some carried air tanks, while another tank was pulled along in a
gardening wagon. They passed oxygen masks back and forth between themselves. A
man ran up to them, begging for a breath of air from a survivor. The group
waved him away. "We can't take any more on," screamed one, "Let's go! Keep it
moving -- come on! Move, goddammit, move!"
The lone man crumples to the
ground. A female survivor, Jennifer Watson, 21, of Billerica, couldn't stand
the thought of leaving the man to die. She ran back to give the man air from
her oxygen mask. Just then, another man darts from between two nearby buildings
and ripped the mask away from Watson and her charge, hightailing it down the
alleyway between O'Hanlons and the bank. He looks back as he books away and say
only, "Lady, I'm sorry." Across the street, a man yelled "Cut!"
three hours Sunday afternoon, Ayer and its residents were cast as players in
director John DePew's independent film, CO2, about a small Pennsylvania town
devastated by a coal mine disaster. Ayer and the other New England locations
acted as stand-in towns for the film.
The story line was borrowed from
a real life 1986 disaster in Cameroon. At that time, a magma-spurred geologic
eruption occurred some 50 miles under the floor of a Cameroon lake. The carbon
dioxide escaped through the water's surface at the rate of 60 mph, releasing
about 1.6 million tons of the gas.
The eruption displaces oxygen and so
caused the suffocation of 1,700 villagers and 3,500 head of livestock in a
16-mile zone around the lake. For those lining the sidewalks on Main Street
Sunday, the theft scene alone, which will take mere minutes once edited, took
nearly three hours to shoot. But it's a dramatic episode in the film which is
due for release next summer as an independent release or, perhaps, an HBO
Ayer was chosen as a filming location after it charmed the
movie's producers. Gary Whelpley of FCC Filmscouting says the buildings of
downtown Ayer were fixed in his mind following his years drilling with the
National Guard on Devens. Ayer joined the list of other locales used including
Haverhill, Newburyport, North Reading and Plaistow, N.H. Whelpley said Ayer's
different sized buildings and easily diverted traffic also helped bring the
production to town. He said town was very cooperative and that he was thankful
for the selectmen's approval for the filming on Oct. 6. The film's on a tight
schedule and so approval was quickly needed.
scheduled for Oct. 18 was rescheduled to last Sunday, where the crew was
treated to beautiful sunny autumn weather. "Thank God the weather worked out
because it's been playing havoc with us," said Judy Coleman, the film's
executive producer and DePew's wife. The couple is financing the flick on their
own. It's their second self-produced venture following the release of their
first film, 27 Down.
While it was sunny, it was not so warm for the
extras that played dead along the Main Street surface and sidewalk.
Fifteen-year old Conor Healy of Bridgewater played one victim. Peering out of
his zipped-up hooded sweatshirt, he said he was in the shade of a vehicle prop
parked by Town Hall. "It was cold... very, very, very cold," he said, but still
was excited - it was his first time as an extra and his first time on a movie
The Cottage Restaurant doubled as a dressing room for the cast and
refuge for crew as they prepared for the reopening of Main Street and their
opening for the lunchtime crowd. Main Street, freshly decorated for tomorrow's
Halloween celebrations, plays a starring role in the film. Corn stalks were
tied to the light poles and, appropriately enough, large skull cutouts were
stuck onto the windows at town hall.
The oxygen pilferring thief was
played Doug Cadrette, an Ayer man and Moore Lumber Company employee. Cadrette
was downtown Sunday morning, buying his daily paper and coffee at Archer's
Mobil, when DePew saw him in the store at 6 a.m. and cast him on the spot.
Cadrette says he'd acted once before in an unpaid role in a Veryfine Juice ad
that ran during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. "I had no idea any of this
was going on," said Cadrette, still a little shocked with disbelief at the wild
turn his day took. "I was gonna hole myself up for the rest of the day." It was
his three-and-a-half hours of fame, and maybe more, depending on the
He says he would love the chance to do more acting.
His legs were tired from shooting the same scene over and over again -- some 15
to 20 times he said. "Sometimes I didn't have a chance to catch my breath," he
said. Links about the movie can be found on the movie's Web site,
Plaistow Town Hall featured in independent film
25, 2009 The Eagle
By Margo Sullivan
PLAISTOW, N.H. In real life,
Main Street's historic Town Hall operates like a hub of government and the
address is Plaistow, N.H.. But in a little while, moviegoers may glimpse Town
Hall in "27 Down," the movie now in production by Haverhill, Mass., independent
studio director John Depew.
He was back on Main Street over the weekend
to reshoot a scene in front of Town Hall.
Depew, who also wrote the
script, shot the film last summer and used Plaistow in a couple of scenes to
breathe reality into his fictional town of Canada, Maine.
shot of Canada's fictional police station, for example, is actually Plaistow
Town Hall. He also used the Plaistow District Courthouse and Selectman Charles
Blinn's auto repair shop in other scenes.
Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald
said Depew included some familiar faces in the film as extras. Blinn also has a
cameo role in the film, but he's not one of the five main characters, Depew
said. "It's a murder mystery about a cop who runs over a kid accidentally and
he's assigned the case the next day," he said. The film explores "the paths we
take when we do something wrong," he added. In the police officer's case, he
becomes romantically involved with the dead child's mother before she discovers
he is the culprit.
Depew said he chose Town Hall partly because of the
cannon on the front lawn. "Plaistow was so helpful in everything we did," Depew
said. Blinn also loaned Depew a "couple of Corvettes" for the movie.
addition to the Plaistow scenes, Depew also used a number of Massachusetts'
locations Boston, Andover, Lawrence, Middleton and North Andover. Except
for Boston, where shooting on location posed problems, all the communities were
helpful, Depew said.
He ran into few glitches except for one
incident in North Andover. He had obtained a convenience store owner's
permission to use her store as the setting for a robbery. In the middle of the
holdup scene, someone dropped a dime to the real police. "I should have
anticipated someone might do that," he said.
He said it was his first
film and he was learning on the job. Depew had alerted police about location
shots on public property, as required. But because this scene happened on
private property, he hadn't thought to notify the North Andover police before
the camera started rolling.
In retrospect, he said he wishes he had.
About 500 people saw the film at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass.,
including North Andover police officers, he said. A couple of film distributors
are interested in "27 Down," according to Depew. He redid the Plaistow scenes
to improve the film after seeing audience reaction. He made the film on a
budget of around $100,000, he said, and took advantage of the Massachusetts
incentives and tax credits for filmmakers. His film company, Wild Beagle
Productions, is based in North Andover.
Cops Interrupt Filming, Handcuff Actors
25 August 2008 10:36 AM,
PDT | Studio Briefing - Film News
See recent Studio Briefing - Film News
Filming of the
independent movie 27 Down in North Andover, MA was halted unexpectedly Sunday
after police descended on a gas station convenience store after receiving an
alert that an armed robbery was taking place there. Director John Depew told
KHAS-TV, "They came in and they said 'Drop the gun,' and I couldn't see the
officer because he was behind [me]. ... I said, 'It's a movie, it's a movie --
we're filming a movie!'" Undeterred the officers handcuffed two of the actors.
The store owner, Tracy Adley, later explained that a movie was being filmed and
that the guns being used in it were made of plastic. He said he believed a
customer called police as a hoax. »