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Warner Bros. opens Shelburne Falls office

SHELBURNE FALLS — A Warner Bros. film production crew has set up a Bridge Street office — yet one more sign that filming scenes for “The Judge,” a feature film starring Robert Downey Jr. is increasingly likely.

Peter Novak of Warner Bros. introduced himself to Shelburne Selectmen Monday night, identifying himself as “production supervisor for the Shelburne Falls portion” of the film.

“I’m just here to introduce myself and see how we’re doing with the (film permit) application,” he said.

Selectmen told Novak they were going to be reviewing the draft film permit that both Shelburne and Buckland selectmen have been working on with Mary Vilbon, executive director of the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association.

“The hope is to have this in place, and back to you for review in a few days,” said Selectmen’s Chairman Robert Manners. “Until then, we can’t even say you can shoot in the town, because we don’t have a formal process.”

“I’m looking forward to working with you and hoping this process goes smoothly,” added Selectman John Payne. “If there are any hiccups, I hope you will come to us. As soon as it’s done, we’ll send everybody a copy.”

Novak told selectmen that he has an office at 31 Bridge St., and for them to contact him whenever they have questions.

“The Judge,” which also stars Robert Duval, Billy Bob Thornton, and Vera Farmiga, is about a lawyer who comes back to his hometown for his mother’s funeral and learns that his estranged father is a murder suspect. This will be the second Hollywood feature film in as many years to feature scenes shot in Shelburne Falls.

The village’s film permit has been a work-in-progress, ever since “Labor Day,” starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, was filmed in part here last June.

After Novak left, the board discussed setting up a municipal “point person,” so that if shooting dates needed to be changed due to weather, it could be done without emergency meetings of the selectboards. The draft contract includes requiring film companies to have liability insurance for the town and to pay for “any costs incurred in service to the production that are beyond the ordinary duties of town personnel and/or usage of town-owned equipment.” The board spent a lot of time discussing asking filmmakers to set up an escrow account, which would be refunded when all town bills are paid.

According to Manners, scenes for a film were shot in Shelburne in 1977 in which the filmmakers left without paying their bills fully. The draft calls for a $25 per day permitting fee for shooting scenes in town.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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