SHELBURNE FALLS — On May 31, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., film cameras for the upcoming Warner Bros.’ film “The Judge” will be shooting aerial views of a funeral procession down the village’s main streets. The cameras will be filming from a helicopter circling through the village and from the rooftop of McCusker’s Market Building.
Several Shelburne Falls storefronts, from the Neighbors convenience store to the old Mole Hollow Candle Co. building, will have movie “scenes,” now that both the Buckland and Shelburne Boards of Selectmen have approved permits for the filming, for local scenes to be shot from May 31 through June 17.
“As head of the Massachusetts Film Office, I want to thank you so much for how you’ve welcomed these folks,” MFO Director Lisa Strout told Buckland selectmen after they approved tentative filming dates and times. “We’re really excited about this one,” she continued. “Our intention, as the state, is to be available to you all and to the (film) company, and to make this a good experience.”
“I can see this, as a lure for tourism over time,” said Strout. “I think this is a movie that people are going to love for decades to come.”
Shelburne selectmen had approved filming on Bridge Street and around its sections of Shelburne Falls and Shelburne Center on Tuesday afternoon. Buckland selectmen gave their approval Tuesday night.
Filmmakers are preparing to use the upstairs rooms of the Buckland Town Hall this Saturday for a casting call of movie extras, with auditions from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will also be using these Town Hall rooms between May 28 through May 30 for script read-throughs and some rehearsals, in closed-door sessions.The film stars Robert Downey Jr. and is to feature an all-star cast that includes Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Leighton Meester, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Billy Bob Thornton. The plot is about a successful lawyer (Downey) who comes to his hometown for his mother’s funeral, and learns that his estranged father (Duvall), a prominent judge in town, is a murder suspect.
Warner Bros. Production Supervisor Peter Novak said there will be 12 to 13 days of shooting, with five or six of those dates to be on the Buckland side of the village. One of those film dates will take place at night, behind the Salmon Falls Artisans Showroom. Novak said any possible noise will be “no louder than the trains” that run through the village.
He said he is working with both towns’ police departments, and will be halting traffic on an intermittent basis. “We’re going to be (notifying) people, dropping fliers, going door-to-door,” Novak said. “We’ll be talking to the residents and businesses.” Novak said lighted signs will be placed strategically, to inform people of filming-in-progress, so that they can take detours or be aware of traffic delays.
Several scenes take place in the rain, so the presence of actual rain is less likely than usual to delay filming, Novak said.
Several signs around town, including parking signs, will be taken down temporarily, when filming takes place.
Among the local places named in the Shelburne permit, where scenes are to be shot, are the storefronts of Good Spirits liquor store and Rethreads clothing consignment store, Baker’s Pharmacy, Mole Hollow, Arms Cemetery, Singley’s Furniture, Wandering Moon, the Shelburne police station, and Zerah Fiske Road in Shelburne Center. In Buckland, the sites discussed included Clement Street, State Street, Salmon Falls Artisans Showroom, and part of the Lamson & Goodnow property.
Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Dean told the Warner Bros. representatives Tuesday night that the village merchants appreciate the production crew’s “Buy Local” initiative, during their stay in the village, which helps the local merchants.
Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association Executive Director Mary Vilbon pointed out that the filmmakers have also asked to be part of the business association’s composting program, in an effort to be a “green company.”
When asked about how local businesses feel about the upcoming movie, Vilbon replied: “I can tell you at least 98 percent of the businesses are thrilled, on the Shelburne side.”
However, Catamount Auction owner Michael Budrewicz has come to both boards of selectmen with concerns that filming will block access to his offices on Bridge Street and on State Street. In a letter presented to both boards, Budrewicz said he works irregular hours and needs “unobstructed” access to his office and storage area, to load up his box truck with antiques and other auction items. His letter asks the production crew for “at least two week’s notice of any part of the filming schedule will interfere with traffic, parking or building access.” He said he has several large events coming up, and the dates are not flexible. He said, if he has to relocate his stored merchandise to another site, “then I need to know how I will be compensated for this.”
He also indicated he wanted to be compensated for any loss of income as a result of inaccessibility to his merchandise. Buckland selectmen urged Budrewicz to talk directly with Novak, to resolve his issues. Budrewicz had formerly worked for the movie industry as a landscaper, according to minutes from a recent Shelburne selectmen’s meeting.