Life of New Bedford fishermen and their families focus of independent film, “Whaling City”

Cameras are rolling in New Bedford to take the plight of Southern New England fishermen to the big screen.

It’s been 11 years since pen hit paper the first time for “Whaling City,” written and directed by Dartmouth native Jay Burke. The movie weaves the story of a fisherman up against catch shares, going out of business, and romance too — with a government fisheries scientist.

“We’re certainly not trying to be the mouthpiece of commercial fishing, but I think we might be able to attract to a wider audience that might not otherwise be exposed to the story that’s going on here,” Burke said.

P.J. Sosko of New York plays Sean Murphy, the main character.

One of his sidekicks, Tony Lopes, is played by Geno Monteiro, originally from New Bedford, now based in Los Angeles.  “When I got the script, I got to my character, Tony, this Cape Verdean fisherman, and his first monologue was basically the short story I give people when they ask me, ‘Where you from?’ And his lines were literally, ‘My great-granddad came here as a whaler, worked for three years, didn’t make much money, landed in New Bedford and never looked back.’ And when I read that, my whole body — just goose bumps, you know,” Monteiro said.

When the economy crashed, most of all the original funding for the film that’s being shot right now dried up — except for a grant from the Sloan Foundation. It’s now their entire budget.

“They just recently gotten into funding first-time narrative feature films that are kind of in line with their mission that either deal with scientist characters or deal with science and technology issues,” Burke said.
The budget went from $800,000 to $100,000.

“Streamlining the script. Oddly though, we didn’t lose any story lines. It’s still a very, very ambitious project,” said producer Jonny McAllister. “A lot of characters, a lot of locations.”

“Comes from a real place with a real history — and definitely in this area of the world, I mean hard work prevails, and I think that’s what this film’s about,” Monteiro said.

The more than three dozen cast and crew members will wrap principal photography next week.
Channel 10 News

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