Lights, camera, action at Plymouth Rock

Written by Administrator
 | Tuesday, 29 September 2009 21:32

Grab your designer sunglasses, recruit your entourage, and get your agent on the phone –– the movie business is coming to the South Shore.

The buzz around the new Plymouth Rock movie studio is already having an effect. Thanks to tax incentives aimed at Hollywood-types, the state drew in $675 million from the movie business last year  opposed to $6 million the year before. Just last week, the studio, which has received all the necessary permits from Plymouth, obtained a $550 million construction loan – the largest in North America – and the groundbreaking is scheduled for this fall.

But before the sound stages are built, the brains behind the studios want to establish relationship with the local communities. To that end, the Rock Educational Cooperative, the non-profit wing of the studio, is establishing connections with local schools and holding classes for those who want to get a foot in the door of the movie business.

One of the cooperative team members is John Jordan, a Duxbury resident who say he’s one of a handful of Duxbury High School graduates working at Plymouth Rock.

Jordan’s family is connected with the business (he is related to “Fever Pitch” co-director Bobby Farrelly, who lives in Duxbury) and turned down an offer to work on Saturday Night Live to take the position with Plymouth Rock.

“I always wanted to work in this business,” he said. “I always had a passion for it.”

Jordan and Rock Educational Cooperative Director Kate Ayson are working to establish roots in Plymouth. The cooperative was established about a year ago when the idea for the studio was first made public. Their offices are in the Cordage Park complex in Plymouth until the full studio is complete.

Ayson said establishing the cooperative was a focus for Plymouth Rock’s top execs David Kirkpatrick and Earl Lestz.

“That’s hugely important to these guys ... that we can get involved in the community,” she said.

The cooperative is already working on creating internships with the Plymouth Schools, a program they hope to expand to neighboring towns.

“Here’s an opportunity to be on set two days a week,” said Ayson.

Jordan said he has spoken to Duxbury school officials, who are excited about the possibilities. He said a popular refrain among the Plymouth Rock staff is that the next great director might be in a Massachusetts school, but he or she will never reach his or her goals without the proper equipment or encouragement.

“Arts programs are getting closed every day ... let’s give them an outlet,” Jordan said.

The cooperative has already established a host of educational connections with local institutions, including a Children’s Lab, the “Future of Storytelling” workshop with MIT and the “College on the Lot” program with the New England Institute of Art.

There are also classes, open to the community, including “How to Produce” with Duxbury resident Kathy Farrelly, which runs from Oct. 19-21.

The goal of the studio is not to simply import movie professionals from the Hollywood area, but to tap into locals interested in movie making.

“We want to make it so people living here will be the ones being employed,” said Jordan.

“The studio won’t succeed unless there is a regional work force,” added Ayson. The classes have been ongoing since March, and the studio also held a “jobs on the lot” event at Memorial Hall in Plymouth.

Jordan has also kept up the connection he’s made through the Best Buddies program (he started the chapter at Duxbury High School.) At the high school level, Best Buddies pairs people with disabilities with regular education students, and the company has an adult offshoot that deals with job placement and vocational training. Plymouth Rock is getting an “employer of the year” award from Best Buddies this year.

“It’s monumental,” Jordan said. “It can really change the lives of people I went to high school with.”

Plymouth Rock Studios hopes to be one of a kind in other areas as well. The studio will be built on 240 acres of land that used to be Waverly Oaks Golf Course, behind Plymouth South High School and bordering Route 3. The studio is much larger than any lot in Hollywood, and the founders were excited about being able to design a studio from the ground up, Jordan said. It will be the world’s first “smart” studio, as well as the first green studio. There is a plan to use wind and solar power, as well as recycling water.

There will be a world-class theatre in the middle of the complex, sound stages, a 22-acre back lot, a hotel and an amenity village. The idea for the village is that movie professionals would be able to buy supplies, get a meal or do some shopping without ever leaving the studio grounds.

The completion date for the studio is set for the fall of 2011. The hope is that Plymouth Rock Studios will be a part of the fabric of the South Shore for years to come –– and create 2,500 jobs in the process.

“They really like that idea that this is where America started,” said Ayson of the company’s founders. “This is going to be very family-friendly very open, a very idyllic setting.”