Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bride Wars Filming in Cambridge

Part of the film Bride Wars is being filmed in Cambridge. Here is a sign on the corner of Western Ave & River St. directing cast and crew to the set. I took this on Monday, May 19, 2008.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fire on River St. In Cambridge, MA

Today 5/17/08 a fire broke out in triple decker next to the Wash and Dry Laundromat on River St. in Cambridge, MA. It is across from the Indian Store on William St. The smell of the burning building could be smelled in a large portion of Cambridgeport.

Firefighters climb to the roof of the triple decker that is on fire.
Police blocked off Pleasant St. so that cars could not go onto River St.

Cops gaze down River St. and this 70 T bus was stranded. People had to get off and walk to Central Square.

Firefighters climb a ladder to get to the building roof while spectators watch
A close up of the William St. River St. Corner
Something started gushing out the bottom of this truck

Firefighters climbed the fire escape of this house on Pleasant St. in the same block as the burning building. They knocked on windows to see if anyone was inside. They wanted them to leave for their own safety.

Junction Pleasant & River St.

A firefighter gets ready to go into action.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Casting the film Amistad

Amistad's Problematic Casting Call

By Melinda Spaulding

Many filmgoers know about Steven Spielberg's coup in casting Golden Globe nominee Djimon Hounsou for a leading role in "Amistad." What they may not know is that hiring the film's leads was easy, says casting director Vicki Thomas -- at least when compared to filling "Amistad"'s smaller roles.

Because of the authentic Mendhe language spoken by the movie's slave characters, director Spielberg insisted that these actors be African-born. The perfectionist auteur believed that the 13 slave characters with talking roles should be native speakers of one of the more than 100 African languages. This requirement eliminated most of African-American Hollywood, and left it up to Thomas and her crew to span the globe -- literally -- in search of talent.

Thomas ("Con Air," "Devil in a Blue Dress") held open casting calls across three continents: Africa, Europe and North America. To bring a '90s twist to the film that's set in 1839, solicitations for photos and credentials were placed on the Internet. "With just two and a half months to cast everyone, we were scrambling every minute," says Thomas.

But it was near the end of the casting process that Thomas and her team encountered their biggest problem. They had narrowed their list to the African-speaking actors they wanted, but when Thomas requested proof of their clearances to work in the U.S., she felt as if she were speaking a foreign language.

"We would ask for their green cards and visas, and they would tell us yes," says an exasperated Thomas. "But then we wouldn’t hear from them for days.” Eventually Thomas discovered that many of the actors were in the U.S. illegally.

For some extras, the problem went beyond that of normal legalities: It was a matter of life and death. "We had people who had escaped from Sierra Leone," says Thomas. "We lost an esteemed professor, who was a very good actor. But for him to go back to Sierra Leone to get a visa, meant he risked losing his life.” The lack of legal paperwork put both Thomas and the actors in a difficult position. “We couldn’t put them in the movie," she says, "but we couldn't bring ourselves to turn them in either."

Now that the film is finished and Hounsou may end up with an Oscar nomination, Thomas understandably feels that her hard work was well rewarded. "When you have an end result as good as this," she says, "it's absolutely worth every headache."

Posted Jan 19, 1998