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Goodbye, Carlinville:  Filming ends in Shelburne

SHELBURNE — The “Crawford County Sheriff’s Dept” sign is gone from above the doorway of Memorial Hall, and the “Carlinville Savings Bank” is once again Greenfield Cooperative Bank. On Monday and Tuesday, production film crews for “The Judge” took down their props along Bridge Street, as filming in that part of Shelburne Falls came to a close.

“Today is the last day of filming,” Selectman Joseph Judd said Monday night. He said the film crew was working on Mechanic Street Monday evening and had filmed a scene on Zerah Fiske Road, on private property, earlier Monday.

“After today, Carlinville, Indiana, will become a figment of our imagination,” Judd said.

Since May 31, Warner Bros. film crews have been in town to shoot scenes for “The Judge,” starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Leighton Meester and many other film stars, among them Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard, Jeremy Strong and Ken Howard.

The IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) is now giving the names of some of the characters portrayed. Downey plays “Hank Palmer,” the son of Judge Joseph Palmer (played by Duvall). In the plot, Downey’s character returns to his home town for his mother’s funeral, and learns that his father is a murder suspect.

Filming will continue in other places, but for Shelburne, the filming experience was good, says Judd. “We’ve dealt with every problem that came up,” said Judd. “It’s been a really good activity.”

One reason for encouraging filmmakers to come to Shelburne has been to stimulate the local economy. Throughout the course of the filming, many local residents were hired as film extras or production assistants. Also “Buy Local” cards were made available to film workers by the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association. The cards were intended to stimulate local shopping in business association member shops.

Judd said he hopes to eventually report on revenues generated, “but at the early stage, the numbers are substantial,” he said.

Business association director Mary Vilbon said about 135 “Shop Local” membership cards were given out to the production company, to distribute to their crew. About 80 percent of the crew is from Massachusetts, and the credit card-sized discounts are good through August 2014 — in hopes that some will come back to the village with their families. Also, more cards were distributed to subcontracting companies, and the Springfield-based security company hired during filming — at their requests, said Vilbon.

During RiverFest, said Vilbon, a couple of out-of-state visitors came to the RiverFest information table — because they were looking for “Shelburne Falls” and were thrown off by all the “Carlinville” banners lining Bridge Street.

“When we explained that a movie was being filmed, they thought the whole thing was very funny,” she said. “He and his wife got the biggest kick out of it.”

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

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