Friday, August 22, 2008

US 20: A “Taking Woodstock” Update

I featured an article from the Berkshire Eagle on August 12 (here) about a movie – “Taking Woodstock” - being filmed on US Route 20 in New Lebanon, NY. Well, it looks like it’s been very good for the area, and it sounds like our favorite national road is getting a lot of attention. Here’s an update from the Berkshire Eagle:

'Woodstock' bolsters business

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

NEW LEBANON , N.Y. — Mike DeBella is in the movie business.
He may never get a star on Hollywood Boulevard, but he is getting a much-needed boost to business at his Hitchin' Post restaurant.

Ever since crews came into town to start setting up to shoot the movie "Taking Woodstock," DeBella and his staff have been catering breakfast and sometimes lunch to the workers at the movie production staging facility down the road.

"We definitely got a good size increase," he said. "And they tell me that once they really start filming here in town, it's supposed be real busy. I may extend my hours depending on how that goes."

Workers for the film, which is being directed by Oscar-winner Ang Lee, have been living in campers and hotels around the area and eating in many of the local restaurants, such as DeBella's place, Bucky's Bagels and Shaker Mountain Barbeque.

Until now, much of the visible work has been in refitting the former Valley Rest Motel on Route 20 into a set for the film, a motel called Del Monaco. Inside and out, they will be using the motel for shooting scenes for the film, which is based on the book "Taking Woodstock" by Elliot Tiber.

Production offices are temporarily located in the former office of Ceramaseal, also on Route 20.

According to Colleen Teal, New Lebanon's town clerk, the film's planners started discussions with town officials in early spring, eventually

negotiating a temporary contract with the town that allows them to use a number of sites in a variety of ways without having to obtain land use or other permits that would normally be required.

Throughout the process, she added, officials with the production company, Tuxedo Terrace Films, have been "very proactive" about communicating with town officials, local businesses and community groups about what they'll be doing and what kind of disruptions or traffic they should expect.

The producer and screenwriter of the film, James Schamus, has a vested interest in making sure things go well, and that when filming wraps, there are no hard feelings. He is a resident of a nearby town in Columbia County.

"We always try to communicate with local people when we're working on a film, but I have an additional motive — that after this crew leaves town, I'm still going to be hanging around for 20 more years or so," Schamus said.

He also noted that New Lebanon townsfolk have been quite welcoming to the crew and patient with the difficulties the film might cause to everyday life.

"I've been involved in well over 100 films, and many times we don't have the situation we have here," Schamus said. "People have been extraordinary in accepting that there will be some disruptions. And people are actually communicating with each other about what's coming up — that is a big help."

"They give you a heads up about what to expect; they've been very good about that," DeBella said. "And they're always asking if we know local contractors or other businesses they need. They've been using a lot of local services."

For example, filming in New Lebanon should last four to five weeks, Teal said, and during September, scenes will be shot along Route 20 that will have to depict the monster traffic jam as concertgoers tried to reach the actual Woodstock concert. Filming those scenes will involve period cars and lots of extras. It is important that no contemporary vehicle wander into the shot, so Route 20 will be closed intermittently to allow the film crew to do its work.

"It's pretty apparent they know what they're doing and how to do it," Teal said. "And I think it's a wonderful thing for the town, especially the local businesses, in a year when the economy has had a downturn."

DeBella said the additional business couldn't have come at a better time.

"It was a tough winter, and this has gotten me caught up on a lot of bills," he said. "And hopefully, it will help me get through this winter."

An update and links to information on US 20 road closures for filming can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They were setting up for filming this morning in an open field about 10 mi. west of New Lebanon, between Nassau and Schodack.