As you may know, Ben Affleck chose our little mainland city as setting for scenes in his new movie based on the novel Live by Night by Dennis Lehane.
The whole county's been agog.
This is an old town. Most of the businesses have moved out to newer shopping centers and outer areas, leaving the core to fall into vacancy and disrepair. To their credit, some farsighted mayors and other people have been sprucing it up. If their efforts continue, they should succeed because the area has a lot to offer, including beautiful Victorian homes and nineteenth century buildings.
But the book's setting is Boston during the twenties. We scratched our heads? We're to stand in for Boston? Does Boston have palm trees? Will we have to disguise them as sugar maples?
Our fears were ungrounded. The movie people want us to look like Ybor City, Florida, where part of the story takes place.
Ybor City? Home of cigars and a blend of Latin cultures? Okay, even if our area was the southernmost outpost for Anglo-Saxon settlement before the Revolution, we'll take our moment of fame however we can get it. Lucky we have lots of empty buildings and space for the filmmakers to work their magic. And a lot of actors who can impersonate Cubans. Just remember when you go to the theater that we're really not Ybor City. We aren't even in Florida!
Now, some pix of the sets being built to turn us into...wherever.
This is the area of downtown they're working with. The road is blocked off and you can see a few of the old buildings they're putting new fronts on. Yes! They're actually making them look good!
This was once the old Bluebird Cafe.
The beige building is being worked on, getting ready for make-believe shutters and sign.
And this is an entirely new structure. The lot was empty, the business torn down years ago. So they're putting up the kind of building they want. Or at least the semblance of one.
I hope this set-building/touching-up helps people remember what downtown used to be like. If the movie stirs up interest in restoration, it will be well worth the trouble of rerouted traffic and noisy construction!
Hollywood, welcome to Brunswick!