Donald Rosenfeld is the former president of Merchant Ivory productions. His credits as a producer include "Howards End" and 'The Remains of the Day." He says he and fellow filmmaker Mary Kemper Wolf had originally planned to shoot only about 10 percent of the Wyeth movie project in Maine -- now the plan is to make 80 percent of it here.
"We absolutely are convinced after meeting with your governor and the incredible Maine Arts Commission, I feel that if we're going to go somewhere with the actors and create a world, the Wyeth world in Maine will work better for a movie on location," Rosenfeld says.
Mary Kemper Wolf says the movie, which has a working title of "Wyeth," will tell the story of three generations of one of America's best known artistic dynasties, who spent much of their time and created much of their work in Maine. Indeed Maine resident Jamie Wyeth -- son of Andrew and grandson of N.C Wyeth -- will reportedly be a consultant on the project.
It's really an American story, a story about fathers and sons, a story about the drama of the Wyeth family and the beautiful art that they make and the stories behind the art and the very complicated relationships between the family members and the rich, rich history that makes up a beautifiul part of American history," Kemper Wolf says.
Kemper Wolf says they had originally wanted to make the movie in Maine, but had been put off by the lack of financial incentives in the form of tax credits and rebates: Film-makers here are offered around 10 percent, whereas Massachusetts, for example, offers about 25 percent.
She was persuaded to reconsider after talking with Maine resident Betsy Evans Hunt. who sat next to her on a bus journey in New York. Hunt takes up the story.
"And we got to chatting and I said, 'What are up to?' And she said 'I make films, I'm a producer and filmmaker.' And I said, 'What are you working on?' 'A film on the Wyeth family.' And I said, 'Where do you plan to shoot it?' And she said most likely Massachusetts or Canada, and I said, 'That's really too bad, I'm from Maine and let's see what we can do.' So I called Donna McNeil who heads the Maine Arts Commission and literally within about an hour she had the governor's ear on this and he's been all in from the start," Hunt says.
Tom Porter: "Were you offered any incentives above the existing ones?"
Donald Rosenfeld: "We're negotiating those, we're on board and now we'll figure out a way to do it."
Mary Kemper Wolf: "We are, we really are after today, we feel very, very committed to making this happen."
Rosenfeld says shooting in Maine is likely to start in about 12 months and last for five or six months, during which time he plans to employ much local talent, from interns to actors, to extras and technicians.
When filming on location, he says, it's important to familiarize yourself with the area. "A movie that you shoot on location you want to get the most from the location," Rosenfeld says. "You can't get that by just dipping in and out the way a lot of Hollywood movies do. With an independent film you really want to get the texture of the place, you want the actors to live in the place. You can't just come and shoot your exteriors here and do everything else in the studio, we don't do it that way. So we'll use real locations."
Rosenfeld hopes this production, which has a $7.5 million budget, will help reinvent the Maine film incentive program. As for who's going to star in it, Donald Rosenfeld and Mary Kemper Wolf say they're close to securing a high-profile director who'll get the final say on casting. But they say some of the names they're hoping to attract include Jeff Bridges, Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson.