Residents and visitors in Lunenburg had front row seats to the filming of a portion of the new Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline film, The Good House, on September 24. The movie is also being filmed in Chester.
People stood or walked by the corners of Lincoln and Duke Streets as the three-time Oscar-nominee Weaver and Oscar-winner Kevin Kline did a series of takes of one scene in the movie by Amblin Partners, just a few feet away.
Everyone in the area was restricted from taking photos, but onlookers were happy simply to stand and watch the action, virtually next to two Hollywood stars.
"It's amazing we're allowed to be this close. I can't believe it," commented Nancy Howard who lives in Lunenburg.
There on Duke Street, just south of Lincoln, a grey pick-up truck sat parked. Christmas wreaths adorned the doors of nearby shops.
Approximately 30, fluorescent orange and green cloaked crew members jostled lighting and sound equipment. They consulted clip boards and spoke into headphones, eventually shouting out the perfunctory "rolling," "action," "background sound," moments before the filming began.
In the scene, Weaver, best known for her Oscar-nominated roles in Aliens, Working Girl, and Gorillas in the Mist, stands a few feet from the truck. She's wearing a beige three-quarter length coat over a dress or skirt with somewhat frumpy, multi-coloured flat shoes.
Kline, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in A Fish Called Wanda, and widespread acclaim for his roles in Sophie's Choice, The Big Chill, and Beauty and the Beast, sits in the truck in the driver's seat. He's unshaven and wearing a royal blue-and-black checked shirt with an orange and beige baseball cap.
"Hey lady. Wake up," he shouts to Weaver, who then approaches the vehicle and talks to him. She speaks with a large microphone held near her face, her words barely audible to the onlookers.
In time, a white Range Rover rounds the corner below. It pulls up behind Kline's truck, and honks. In the first takes of the scene, Kline sticks his arm out the window with his middle finger up and shouts a profanity. By about the third or fourth take, the profanity has been toned down to "asshole."
Onlooker Howard was there with her friend Corrinne Hodgins from Toronto, who was equally struck by how close bystanders were able to get to the filming area.
"Wow. Like Kevin Kline, right there," she enthused. She remarked that in Toronto, a major film making centre, "They would never let you get like this.
"They film a lot at night and a lot in studios. Because there's nothing as nice as this really. It would be on a sound stage.
"Like I know when they did Will Smith's movie, the super hero one, it was always at night. So you would be driving home, and downtown Toronto would be lit up. Because they would do everything at night because there's nobody around."
Though the streets themselves were blocked to vehicles, pedestrians could move freely along most areas. None of the shops were closed and customers wandered in and out as normal, although many potential customers were clearly distracted by the filming.
"I'm going somewhere after this, but I left early so I could catch the filming," said Kathy Bradford of Lunenburg. She opined most people in the town welcome the filming, suggesting, "It enhances the local economy."
Jane Lordly, owner of Rudolf's Ladies Wear on Lincoln, regularly poked her head out the door to watch the filming. She described it as "very exciting."
She admitted the filming was impacting foot traffic into the store, but said, "I think it's worth it ... Maybe these people will come back. It's such a nice town."
Jamie Myra, whose family owns Stan's Dad & Lad Shop on Lincoln, concurred. "Oh most definitely it's affected business today. I mean, there's no other way to put it, right?"
But as vice-president of the Lunenburg Board of Trade, Myra puts this latest production and any slight inconvenience into perspective, describing it as short-term pain for long-term gain.
"It is what it is. I'm just happy that we see more and more of this happening, like it used to be 15 years ago. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come," he said.
One business was closed on September 23, however, the first day of filming in Lunenburg - No. 9 café on Montague Street. Owner Sara Johnston confirmed to LighthouseNow that filming had taken place on the premises, but declined to say anything more.
"I'm not actually allowed to," she told LighthouseNOW.
The production team was restricted from speaking to the media regarding any details of the filming, and inquiries to the publicist generated only a standard press release on the film and the actors' backgrounds.
The film is an adaption of the New York Times Best Seller, The Good House, by Ann Leary. It's being directed by Emmy-nominee Maya Forbes and Emmy-winner Wally Wolodarsky, based on a script they co-wrote.
The story follows Hildy Good (Weaver), a wry New England realtor and descendant of the Salem witches, whom, according to the press release, "loves her wine and loves her secrets.
"Her compartmentalized life starts to unravel as she rekindles an old romance and becomes dangerously entwined in one person's reckless behaviour."
Weaver and Kline previously appeared on screen together in the 1993 Oscar -nominated comedy, Dave, and the 1997 drama, The Ice Storm.
Amblin Partners is owned in part by movie-titan Steven Spielberg. The Good House is being produced by Emmy award winner Jane Rosenthal (The Irishman, When They See Us,) and Emmy award-nominee Aaron Ryder (Arrival, The Prestige), of FilmNation Entertainment. Executive producers are Erika Hampson, Christos V. Konstantakopoulos and Steve Samuels.
The Good House will be released by Universal Pictures domestically. The release date is yet to be announced.