On the Streets of Boston
Written by Randy Steinberg | Posted by: Anonymous
If you happened to be in East Boston in January — or even by the Commons — chances are you stumbled upon a feature film production: the movie being shot was "Street Players," and it is the first offering from one of Boston’s newest film production companies, Road Rambler Films.
"Street Players," starring the two accomplished actors James Elwood and Cindy Lentol, tells the story of Jake Barnes, "a man from whom the Mob stole everything. Left to die on the streets of Boston, his only hope for redemption is to wage a bloody war of revenge against those responsible." The shoot lasted about 35 days over January and February of 2005, and the film is due to be completed in April 2005 with an intended red-carpet premier in May at the Boston Common Loews.
The driving force behind Road Rambler Films and "Street Players" is the team of John Fitzgerald and Drew Pearlman. Both grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts though they did not know one another. Pearlman wrote and directed eight short films in and around New England before heading off to Los Angeles to make a go at it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. Fitzgerald was something of a local celebrity, the host of the popular salt water fishing show "On the Hook," which aired on the New England Sports Network (NESN). Through mutual friends, Fitzgerald read a script that Pearlman had written. The script was "Street Players," and so taken with it was Fitzgerald that he told Pearlman to come back from LA so they could make the film in Boston.
"I left NESN to make this film," explains Drew Pearlman. "We maxed our credit cards, moved in with our parents, and called the Framingham Starbucks our office. We’ve put ourselves on the line to make this film, but we wouldn’t have it any other way."
After banging on doors and pounding the pavement in a quest for backing, Fitzgerald and Pearlman won the support of local businessman and film enthusiast Victor Melfa who agreed to be the movie’s executive producer. Melfa is well known locally for his baseball comedy film "Freedom Park," which was shot entirely in New England in 2004 and had an impressive theatrical release in the Bay State as well as Rhode Island. Melfa’s involvement was enough to help Road Rambler gain the support of the Massachusetts Film Bureau (MFB).
"Robin Dawson and Laura Yellen of the MFB were very helpful to us," says Fitzgerald. "They didn’t have to bother with our small production, but they were kind to us, taking me onto the set of "Fever Pitch" to meet the Farrelly Brothers and helping us with all the necessary permits and applications a production must have to film in Boston." The snowball gaining momentum, Road Rambler Films was able to hook up with Dream Alley Pictures, which leant the production office space and its post-production expertise. Finally, deals were put in place with local casting and equipment companies which were low-budget friendly.
All the elements were assembled to begin shooting in January. Seventy-five percent of the filming was done in Boston, principally in East Boston. "The people of East Boston are terrific," Fitzgerald relates enthusiastically. "They treated us like family throughout our time there. The day after a big snowstorm, we were forced to move into the street to film. Going by the book, this could have been a problem, but the police and residents did what they could to help us complete two days of shooting under difficult circumstances." The rest of the film was shot in Framingham and is currently in post-production.
Through his connections in the media, Fitzgerald was able to garner considerable local press. FOX 25 followed the production around town for a day and helped Road Rambler to do an open casting call. Similar cast and crew calls were done on college campuses such as Boston University and through radio stations. Indeed, one of the co-stars of the film is WAAF’s Lyndon Byers. Byers, a former Boston Bruin, plays a ruthless hitman whose catch phrase is, "We only hurt the ones we love." The line is uttered before Byers’s cowboy hat-wearing, shotgun-toting character carries out executions: shades of Samuel L. Jackson’s gangster character in "Pulp Fiction" are evident. In addition, Jam’n 94.5 DJ Ramiro came on board to play a bit part as a bartender and sponsored a call-in contest for anyone who wanted to act as an extra in the film.
Road Rambler Films has secured a distribution deal for "Street Players" and hopes to announce soon when and where the film will be exhibited. But the company does not intend to rest on its laurels.
Road Rambler Films has an impressive slate of scripts and productions lined up and, funding available, is determined to get right to the next production. "I love shooting in Boston and New England" states Fitzgerald. "The new tax laws which encourage film and television productions in the United States are very important for this area. The more productions that stay local the more business equipment and film companies receive. The more these companies are in the black financially, the more they will be able to cut deals with hungry filmmakers who don’t have huge budgets."
The project Road Rambler hopes to begin shooting soon is a dark comedy à la the ‘80s teen classic "Heathers." Road Rambler’s film, already in pre-production, is titled "Devour": the movie’s clever tagline is, "The three most popular kids in school are cannibals and are quite literally eating the competition."
For the moment, the streets of Boston are quiet, but if Road Rambler Films has its druthers, the highways and byways of Boston and New England will be thronged with its film crews for years to come.
To learn more about Road Rambler Films, please visit www.roadramblerfilms.com.