New Bedford Hosts Another Movie Film Crew

Spat over Christmas Tree Brings Tinseltown to New Bedford
By Don Cuddy, New Bedford Standard-Times

Director Arielle Guadagni looks through the camera with Scott Cunha, left, and Adam Katz during the filming of "Busted Balls" in New Bedford on Sunday. David W. Oliveira/Standard-Times special

NEW BEDFORD — An argument over a Christmas tree might seem an unlikely inspiration for a movie script, but that is what brought a film crew to the city on the weekend.
Written and produced by Dighton native Tommy Whalen, who is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, the short independent film is directed by Colorado native Arielle Guadagni.
Guadagni was in New Bedford last Christmas visiting the Whalen family and was party to the lively debate surrounding the arrival of the family’s tree.
“It was just mad chaos putting up the tree,” she said. “Everyone had something to say about how it wasn’t right or needed to be shifted.”
Reflecting on this incident later, the idea of making a comedy about Christmas emerged, and “Busted Balls,” the working title, is the result. “That scene is re-created in the film. It’s an over-the-top comedy.”
The 30-minute film tells the story of Joel, a man so obsessed with Christmas that he takes his preparations more seriously than Santa Claus himself, according to Whalen. When Joel’s girlfriend moves in for their first Christmas together and the extent of his obsession is revealed, the fun begins.
Guadagni, Whalen and crew spent the weekend filming in the New Bedford historic district, on Hamilton Street, primarily doing interior shots in the second-floor law offices of Lipman & Lipman.
“This film is building on what we already have,” said Anne Marie Lopes, the city’s liaison with the film industry. “One reason for that is we’re developing a reputation in the film industry as being film-friendly. The Tom Cruise movie that filmed on Route 18 called us on a Tuesday, and we were ready for them on Thursday. They said that was unheard of. It would have taken them six months to get the permits in Boston.”
This production came here as a result of the short film “Homeland,” which Whalen had a role in, being made last year at On A Roll restaurant downtown, Lopes said. “It had its premiere at the Zeiterion, and Arielle came here for that. So when she wanted to make a movie, she thought about doing it here.”
A full-length feature, “Whaling City,” with a script based on the fishing industry, is also in the works, Lopes said, and despite running into some delays associated with funding, shooting is expected to begin in March.
“Shooting here just has such a sense of character. There’s a great feel, with the boats and the seagulls and the cobblestone streets,” Guadagni said. For Whalen, returning to the area where he grew up is a bonus.
“It’s exciting to be back and working in New Bedford,” he said. “We established good relations with ‘Homeland,’ and now we’re working on a much larger scale. The crew is all local and the actors are from Your Theater. We’ve all pooled our talents. But local businesses are also a huge part of this. We absolutely couldn’t do it without them. They are givers. That’s one of the neatest things about New Bedford.”
The film, which will continue shooting on location in Westport and New Bedford, also features a cameo by former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, who plays himself. His brief appearance also permits him to include a plug for his “Mayor’s Own Marinara Sauce.”
The movie is a production of Whalen’s and Guadagni’s Silent Dinner Productions, and should be ready for presentation in April, Whalen said.
November 23, 2009
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