Lights, Camera, Boston: City’s film industry keeps growing

Boston TV & Movie Bus Tour makes its way through the city Sunday as tourists take a peek at some film-famous locations.
COURTNEY SACCO/METRO

The city is riddled with dozens of historic landmarks, and picturesque parks, which makes it a breeze for any film producer to scout a location to shoot the next summer hit. Throw in the state’s generous film tax credit, and it is no wonder why Boston is becoming home to a boatload of shoots.

That’s why more and more tourists are interested in viewing Boston from its cinematic angle.

“It is interesting to us that people are starting to see Boston in that ‘Hollywood in the Hub’ light,” said Georgette Blau, owner of On Location Tours, which operates the Boston TV & Movie Bus Tour.

Earlier today, tour guide David Aspro showed off 40 of the city’s most iconic film spots to a crowd of about 25 tourists. While en route to filming locations, tourists got to view clips from movies that range from hits like “The Boondock Saints,” to some under-the-radar flicks like “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”

“The state’s tax credit has brought a whole bunch of new movies to the city, and it definitely helps the tourism industry,” Aspro said.

While the tour ends with a stop to the original “Cheers” bar on Beacon Hill, the unique cornerstone of the three-hour tour is a 30-minute stop at Woody’s L Street Tavern, a small, dark South Boston watering hole for characters in the 1997 hit “Good Will Hunting.”

While Boston proper offers a lot of options for filmmakers, more and more they are drawn to the gritty character of the city’s off-beat neighborhoods.

“The city itself has a lot of history to it and has a lot of different geographical features that sets it apart as a great place to film. You have the public garden, you have Fenway, tons of old buildings and squares, and you also have Southie,” Aspro said. “Southie has completely changed since it was 15 or 20 years ago. It’s very gentrified, and our tour being one of the only tours that come to Southie, you get to see a different aspect of the city.”

As Canadian Max Boyd enjoyed a drink at the L Street Tavern’s “Good Will Hunting” table, he admitted that when he thinks of Boston, the term “movie set” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
“I think of the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins. But it makes sense that TV shows and films would want to shoot in Boston. It has a lot of history,” Boyd said.

Other Southie stops included Thornton Flower Shop, which was featured in “The Town,” and Murphy’s Law, a bar that was in another Ben Affleck movie, “Gone Baby Gone.”

Yesterday was the first time in four years the tour took guests to Fenway Park, a site that will be a regular stop because of recent movies like “The Town,” “Moneyball,” and most recently, the Seth MacFarlane hit comedy, “Ted.”

“We update the tour every few months as new movies shoot,” Blau said.

One film that is currently shooting in Boston has gotten extra attention lately.

“The Heat,” which stars Sandra Bullock and is shooting in Roxbury, was the site of a MBTA bus crash and fatal stabbing this summer, so it’s no wonder drama-loving tourists eagerly peered at the site as the bus passed by yesterday.

“People really enjoy feeling like they have the inside scoop on a new movie,” Aspro said. “If there is something kind of close to where our tour goes already, then we’ll try to go a little out of our way to incorporate it.”

A glimpse at some Boston-shot hits throughout the years:

  • 2000 – “The Boondock Saints”
  • 2001 – “Legally Blonde”
  • 2002 – “The Ring”
  • 2003 – “Mystic River”
  • 2006 – “The Departed”
  • 2007 – “Gone Baby Gone”
  • 2008 – “21″
  • 2009 – “Bride Wars”
  • 2010 – “The Social Network”

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