Monday, May 19, 2008

Plainfield: Ready for Closeup

Plainfield still has no movie theaters, but on Thursday one neighborhood will become a movie set.

The City Council granted permission Monday (May 19, 2008) for a film company to use Crescent Avenue and East Seventh Street locations for segments of an independent feature film, “The Messenger,” starring Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Samantha Morton. As described in The Hollywood Reporter, the film marks the directing debut of Oren Moverman, who wrote the Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There.”

A letter asking permission to film on the sites describes the film as “the story of an American soldier, Will, who is assigned to casualty notification duty and the people and places he experiences along the way.”

Other sources say it focuses on the ethical dilemma posed when an American soldier falls in love with a war widow.

The item was not on the May 12 agenda, but even though the request came in late, apparently all necessary arrangements have been made for 85 people, both staff and performers, to be on site from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. along with four semi-trucks and three campers. Two Connolly Properties sites, Viola’s Place and Columbia Apartments, are locations for both interior and exterior shots for the film.

Although no representatives were present Monday, the film company assured city officials in writing that all insurance obligations were met. The company is working in conjunction with the New Jersey Film Commission and the U.S. Army, according to their letter to City Clerk Laddie Wyatt, and has put up the required $1 million bond for use of city premises.

The net results on city traffic and such will not be known until the filming actually takes place, but it is very exciting to have this event take place. Over the years, I have been assigned to film shoots in Plainfield and Westfield and they are most interesting.

So if you have business that may inconvenience you at the site Thursday, please excuse the film artists. In past situations, the city got a film credit and the recognition was pretty much worth a few hours’ nuisance.

--Bernice Paglia


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