Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I've read the script and it's very funny. I can't wait to see the final production. People here are viewing this effort as another way to put our city on the national stage. The fact that people and organizations have made donations of time, equipment, talent and money to make it happen points to how serious the production is taken.

Seen above (first photo) Marty and Max Langford are actors along with Scott Kittredge (in a Homer mask) for a gag that will be quite funny, but I can't reveal here. (Second photo) Kittredge goes over a scene with actor Matty Blake.

Langford produced and wrote the great indie science fiction thriller "Magdalena's Brain," and Kittredge has been making short films that have played in festivals around the country.

SPRINGFIELD – Local filmmakers volunteering their time and talents started
production last week on the city’s video entry into a national contest that
could bring the premiere of “The Simpsons” movie to the City of Homes.

Or is that the “City of Homers?”

Springfield, the oldest city with that name in the country, is one of 14
communities competing for the honor of being designated as “the” Springfield
and the home of the cartoon family. Other Springfields include those in
Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan,
Kentucky, Nebraska, Colorado, Louisiana and Vermont.

The communities must show their “Simpsons spirit.”

Participating communities must postmark their three to five minute
entry, which must contain key props sent by 20th Century-Fox studios, by
June 23. The studio will then post the videos on the “USA Today” web site
and the nation will get to choose the winner.

Because the competition brings national attention, local organizers were
taking the production very seriously. Details about the script and the
nature of the video weren’t released, although at a press conference
conducted last Tuesday, political consultant Tony Cignoli revealed that
Senator Edward Kennedy had agreed to take part in the video.

Kennedy shot his sequence in Washington, D.C. on June 8, but what he
said or did wasn’t revealed.

There has been an effort from groups in other Springfields to try to
learn about competing approaches to the video assignment through news

Cignoli said he views the production process in the same way he thinks
of a political campaign.

“We need a national vote,” he said.

At the Tuesday press event, the video’s executive producer, David
Horgan, a local filmmaker best known or his recent feature “Cathedral
Pines,” said city officials have been contacted by the “London Times,” the
BBC and Israeli radio about the contest.

“This video is going to be seen by the world,” Horgan added.

Horgan announced that Ed Brown of New York Sound and Motion would be
providing editing services. Brown’s Springfield-based company includes ESPN,
CNN and A&E among its clients.

The video began shooting at the Veritech studios in East Longmeadow on
Thursday afternoon. Production continued this past weekend with scenes
staged in Agawam on Friday and Saturday and WWLP in Chicopee as well as a
climatic scene shot in downtown Springfield on Sunday. Additional scenes
were also shot on the Veritech sound stage.

Marty Langford, the primary author of the script and one of the video’s
directors, explained that in order to meet the deadline the production teams
would begin editing the footage before the last scene is shot.

The local filmmakers who are also donating their services include Scott
Kittredge, Warren Amerman, Karl Kopopka and Joel Katon. Amerman, Katon,
Kittredge, Horgan and Rob Daviau also made contributions to Langford’s

Langford confirmed that everyone is a volunteer on the production.

Over the course of the week the name “Homer” appeared in lights on the
top of Monarch Place.

“We are excited about the buzz that his campaign has generated for our
Springfield. Ours is the first Springfield established in the Untied States
of America. Springfield, Massachusetts has been the home of many other
firsts - from the first American automobile (The Duryea); the nation’s first
armory (George Washington’s) to the Indian Motorcycle and the first frozen
foods (Birdseye). We wanted to help our hometown to come in first again in
this nation-wide competition,” Monarch Place owner, Paul C. Picknelly, said.

On the Veritech set on June 14 at 4 p.m., Kittredge was the director of
the day and was wrestling with donut placement – not just any donut, but a
strawberry frosted donut with sprinkles. Key Simpson’s icons, such as Home’s
signature snack, must be worked into the video. One member of the production
had to visit several donut shops in order to find a sufficient supply.

Luckily, Kittredge said they have enough pastries so there are spare or
“stunt donuts.”

The actor on set was Matt Blake, a stand-up comedian who has been in
national commercials and is the host of “Sidelines” a web-based sports show
on Kittredge conferred with Blake on how to enter the
scene and how to play it. Blake used his skill as a stand-up comedian to
bring bits of business to the scene and later Langford said Blake was

It takes several takes before Kittredge okayed the scene and then the
production crew continued on until 7 p.m. with some outdoors footage.

The next day Kopopka is the director of a sequence in which Langford and
Kittredge are pressed into duties as actors along with Langford’s son Max.
Shot behind the Veritech building, passing motorists may have been confused
by the sight of a man struggling with a Homer Simpson mask.

At the Tuesday press conference, Brown said the finished video would
show viewers the state of the film and video industry in the area.

“You don’t have to go to New York City for a commercial,” Brown said.

Horgan said the video is a “way to speak about Springfield as a place on
the rise.”
© 2007 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

1 comment:

SRBissette said...

YOW! Will the other Springfields READ this post and then KNOW what your beloved town is up to?

Brave reporting, hope your Springfield wins, Mike! GO, Marty, GO, Scott, GO, Springfield!