Looking to catch a glimpse of Kristin Wiig hanging out in Chinatown, or watch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson surrender to a SWAT team?
You’re in luck. Spend your lunch break or weekend afternoon on just the right street corner at just the right time and you might get to watch movie magic happen in the streets of Boston.
Among this year’s beneficiaries of the state’s generous film tax break, the Ghostbusters reboot, starring Wiig, Chris Hemsworth, Melissa McCarthy and Leslie Jones, is in production here in the city, as is an apparent buddy comedy fronted by The Rock and with a cast that includes Aaron Paul and Kevin Hart, according to IMDB.
It can be a hectic scene down by the film sets. Big budget blockbuster producers, it seems, have low tolerance for gawkers.
Photos are off-limits. The contracted security guards standing around sets’ perimeters are upbeat and friendly for the most part, but if you pull out your iPhone too conspicuously, prepare for a stern talking-to. Some of the guards have been seen carrying big black umbrellas to block views for overzealous Snapchat users, news media and tourists with zoom lenses.
Standing around too long also seems to be a no-no. On a Thursday afternoon near the Ghostbuster’s set, security made efforts to keep foot traffic moving, every now and then announcing half-heartedly that everyone had to move along. A few small groups stood around for 15 minutes or more, and weren’t punished for it.
Staying inconspicuous – and patient – can have big payoffs, or little ones.
In Chinatown, this reporter got to watch some of the big machines of movie-making at work: a giant white rectangle being maneuvered on a crane, a dinosaur-like rolling extendable camera rig being carted around, a mini-explosion and puff of smoke, the purpose of which is unknown. Other onlookers said there might have been a scene involving motorcycles.
Otherwise, it was tame, and only kind of worth the occasional hassle from set-minders.
Metro had better luck on Sunday in the Financial District, where The Rock – who looks like a human superhero, even at a block’s distance – is filming a movie called Central Intelligence.
Sundays are eerily quiet in the Financial District. It’s one of the few places in Massachusetts where even Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts shut down.
So there were maybe a dozen other onlookers when a big black SWAT van rolled down High Street and a swarm of officers surrounded the former WWE brawler in front the 100 High building, then did it again. Can the wrestler-turned-leading man talk, or punch, his way out of this one? Find out in theaters.
In between takes, a Downtown Boston city ambassador standing outside Dunks with a broom and dustpan kept waving at the American icon. It’s unclear if he ever waved back.
Maybe you aren’t as entertained by all the activity downtown. Parking spaces have been swallowed up, traffic during shoots can be a nightmare, and maybe the idea of someone on Hollywood’s payroll shooing you off a public street rubs you the wrong way.
Boston-area tweets reflect some of that frustration.
And Gov. Charlie Baker thinks the Hollywood-ification of Boston might not be worth all the tax money. He has argued for ending the program.
Either way, the cameras will keep rolling in the Hub this season. So head downtown to take a peek. You might see something cool.