Business ablaze during filming
Roger Danchik of Boston with a movie prop sign for Memorial Hall.
Thrones of stars in Sherburne Falls on Monday.
The corner of Bridge St and Deerfield Ave in Shelburne Falls was jammed with movie people and movie gear after filming scenes in Shelburne Falls on Monday.
CARLINVILLE — This week, Shelburne Falls residents fell asleep in Franklin County, Mass., and woke up in Crawford County, Ind.
The Massachusetts village was transformed overnight into the fictional Carlinville, Ind., for the filming on Monday of the Warner Bros. movie, “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall.
The Greenfield Savings Bank and Greenfield Cooperative Bank were turned into the “Carlinville Credit Union” and “Carlinville Savings Bank.” The Shelburne Town Hall became the “Crawford County Sheriff Dept” with a sign replacing the usual “Memorial Hall.”
But to make sure real-life customers knew where to find them, the Carlinville Savings Bank threw a “Greenfield Cooperative Bank” cloth banner over its movie-set sign, while the Greenfield Savings Bank posted its own sign next to the Carlinville one.
As visitors entered the town center, a banner for the “Crawford County Summer Blueberry Festival” held on Saturdays in June hung over their heads. And vehicles with Indiana license plates lined the village streets. The Western Mass Rod & Gun Club, Inc. now donned the nameplate of the Southern Indiana Rod & Gun Club.
The Elks Lodge was also turned into the meeting place for movie extras.
It was the second day of filming. The movie magic began on Friday when aerial shots of a fake funeral procession passing through Clement Street, down Bridge Street and up to Mechanic Street were caught on camera.
As film crews began filming on Monday, the neighborhood turned into a block party as neighbors and business owners crowded the village streets hoping for a glimpse of the all-star cast. The movie brought in droves of spectators from across Franklin County, including those from Greenfield, South Deerfield and Conway. Some local people even skipped work to hang out in the hilltown.
And it wasn’t too hard to see the film stars up close and personal.
Director and producer, David Dobkin, was seen sitting outside Singley’s eating lunch and chatting with local residents. Wearing a baseball cap and glasses, Dobkin appeared as an ordinary local. He is best known for his work on the comedy films — “Fred Claus,” “Shanghai Knights” and “Wedding Crashers.”
Late afternoon, Downey was spotted swiftly walking down Deerfield Street towards the dozens of white trailers at the end of the road.
One Greenfield resident, Matt, who declined to give his last name, said he was sitting by the Foxtown Diner Monday morning when Robert Duvall greeted him.
Filming started early at 7 a.m. and lasted until 7 p.m. Singley’s took much of the spotlight as filming took place on the second floor for much of the day.
Though some residents view the filming as an inconvenience, most see it as an exciting opportunity for the town.
“It’s good long term. When I see a movie if I like the town, I’ll sit and watch the credits to see where it is,” said Kellie Pellegrind, owner of Thyme by the River as she sat outside on her lunch break to watch the film set.
Resident Jane Trombi, who caught a quick glance of Downey said she hoped the town’s recent star-studded attraction would excite people to visit local businesses.
“As a resident here, it’s exciting to have this after Tropical Storm Irene,” said Grace Coller, another Shelburne resident. “It brightens my spirits and brings people together.”
Last week, Coller and her 7-year-old daughter Rose, were stopped in traffic for a fake funeral procession traveling down the road.
“It’s the one time you don’t mind sitting in traffic,” Coller said.
The filming caught many out-of-town visitors off guard.
Three fishing friends from Ontario — Howard Jordan, Ed Wrona and Mike Dafoe — visited the village for breakfast and to their surprise they walked onto a movie set.
Gene Devita, of Connecticut came to town on a business trip.
“I thought we fell asleep in Massachusetts and woke up in southern Indiana,” he said.
The filming has been a boon for local businesses, Mocha Maya’s and the Foxtown Diner in particular. Both businesses have had to double food orders over the past few weeks since the film crew arrived in May.
“It’s been amazing,” said Judy Grader, owner of the Foxtown Diner. “We had a great May and we’re having a great June.”
Lunch has been bustling at the diner, lasting until past 2 p.m. on most days, but Grader said the crew has been polite and accommodating for the local regulars.
As lunch cleared out, Grader said she just made the film crew some pies and food for dessert.
“The movie has benefited us 100 percent,” she said.
At Mocha Maya’s, the movie has been a blessing. This past winter, the coffee shop struggled to stay open. But now each morning, the film crew orders five pounds of French roast coffee. And the shop has increased its order to 30 to 40 pounds of coffee each week from Indigo Coffee Roasters in Florence.
The film crew gave Mocha Maya’s notice they were coming and the local business has accommodated their needs. The coffee shop typically opens at 7 a.m., but has opened at 5:30 a.m. instead for the crew. In addition, for two nights, Mocha Maya’s will remain open all night for overnight filming at the request of Warner Bros.
“It’s been fun and the crew is really friendly,” said Betsy Laus, the shop manager. “They even gave us a pizza once. They’re really sweet and understanding.”
The Greater Shelburne Falls Business Association has also created a special debit card for Warner Bros. workers, allowing the crew to use the cards for up to a year as a way to bring them back to the town, according to Jill Connolly, an association member.
“I’m really proud our town has been selected,” Connolly said. “I think the longevity of this movie will be a real factor. People will come back and visit.”
And — just for fun — someone has reprised the “Holton Mills Ledger” newspaper vending machine and put it out in front of the Keystone Market. Remember Holton Mills? That’s from last summer’s filming in Shelburne Falls for “Labor Day.” Back then, Shelburne Falls played a New Hampshire milltown, Holton Mills. To add to the merriment, that vending machine displays a “Los Angeles Times.”
Word is spreading across town about how friendly and accommodating the cast and crew are.
“They are kind, saying hello to people in front of The Optician,” said Shelburne resident, Gina, who declined her last name. “The crew people have been very kind. I think they like us. We’re very real, unpretentious and gracious.”
Recorder reporter Diane Broncaccio contributed to this report.
You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.