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BAILEY, SEAN - GONE BABY GONE

BOSTON WELCOMES THE AFFLECK SHOOT
Boston showed its deep civic pride while welcoming the crew of Gone Baby Gone – helped by the presence of local boys Ben and Casey Affleck, as producer Sean Bailey explains.


Q: Given the sensitive nature of the plot, was there any difficulty getting funding for Gone Baby Gone?
SB: It is a difficult subject matter but I think we were always intrigued by the questions that it opened up. The disappearance of a little girl serves as a catalyst in the story for a number of different plots and storylines for Casey’s character to go down. We were very fortunate in finding a home with Miramax. They were pretty supportive from early on. This is the kind of movie that Miramax has made their name on. It was not an easy film to get off the ground but I think that the author of the novel Denis Lehane had a pedigree with Mystic River and that helped. As I said Miramax have a history of handling difficult material. People latched on to the fact that it was about a complicated police investigation with a lot of twists and turns which allowed [director] Ben Affleck to go after some more thematic, bigger questions.

Q: Filming in rough parts of Boston must have meant going into some risky places?
SB: It was a big consideration and something that Ben very much wanted to achieve because he wanted it to feel like the movie was very organic to Boston. We talked about movies like City Of God which used local people and locations and got a very interesting creative result. We could have blocked off streets and brought in lots of extras but Ben was very determined not to do that. So he was picking people out of bars and drug addicts out of the projects. Filming was a challenge because we were often trying to film people behaving naturally in their environment. It was tough because they were not used to film crews coming into their neighbourhood and Ben is a big celebrity and a big presence. So we had to use quite a few tricks in some of the more documentary shooting. Occassionally we would hide the cameras. We would let the actors walk through an environment with the cameras hidden so that no-one knew. Or Ben would walk one way as a decoy while we filmed in another direction. The town has a great civic pride and they would come and be supportive and very rarely intrusive. I think it was because they knew that Ben and Casey were of that city and of them.

Q: It is said that sometimes things looked so real that the cops did not realise that you were shooting a movie?
SB: There was a harrowing moment when we were walking through one of the worst projects when we were location scouting. Ben is fearless about these things and just walked in. I got separated from the main group and three guys came running at us. They were undercover police officers who thought we were there to buy drugs because that’s what folks like us who were dressed in reasonable clothes were usually there for.

Q: Was it tricky using real people in those tough Boston bars?
SB: We filmed in real bars and so there was some interesting management trying to shoot 14 hour days with those guys who were not the most reliable. We needed them to show up several days in a row and we needed them to be conscious. We went into a couple of bars where Good Will Hunting had been filmed 10 years earlier and there were photos of that up on the wall. People would yell out to Ben as if they knew him, which many of them did.

Q: Did you have the co-operation of the Boston police?
SB: We did it with their help and they were really helpful. They embraced it. We were also lucky that Massachussets had made a very aggressive effort to bring filming back to that State. We were the first movie to come in with the new incentives. We benefited because Ben is a hometown son and also because we were bringing a movie back to Boston.

Q: Was there any pressure to dilute the darkness of the story?
SB: From the get-go Disney said we had to go and make our movie and that Ben’s vision was not diluted.

Q: The casting of Casey Affleck seems inspired?
SB: I remember Ben walked in and said…I know who is has to be – Casey! When Ben decided that he wanted to make the character younger he knew Casey would be right. Like audiences I had never seen Casey be a leading man so I will say that I was confident in Ben’s choice but the first couple of scenes when Casey had to drive the narrative I was thrilled to see that he was going to pull it off.

Q: How easy was to it persuade big stars like Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris to take on fairly small but crucial roles in Gone Baby Gone?
SB: Ben appealed to Ed and said he really needed the balance and strength of big actors and I think Ed knew what it was like to be a first time director and he really responded to the part. Then with Morgan it was the case that we harassed him for a long, long time. We did not stop. There were weekly and daily emails. Fortunately Ben and Morgan had a good relationship from The Sum Of All Fears. To the credit of these guys we could not pay them market rates for this movie and so we were very fortunate that they both agreed to do it.

Q: What about the DVD of Gone Baby Gone?

SB: We have some interesting stuff for the DVD. There were not a lot of scenes that were not included in the movie, however we have so much documentary footage of the city of Boston and environment. So there is a lot of extra material.

Published September 11, 2008
 

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Sean Bailey

GONE BABY GONE DVD

GONE BABY GONE, dir Ben Affleck
When four year old Amanda McReady (Madeline O’Brien) is kidnapped in the tough Dorchester district of Boston, private investigator couple Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angela Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) at first refuse the case, until the girl’s aunt pleads with them to work alongside the police. Police Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) is none too happy, but he assigns Detectives Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton) to the case, to work with the young couple. Amanda’s mother Helene (Amy Ryan) is a drug user and runner, whose theft of a large amount of drug money from drug boss Cheese (Edi Gathegi) sets off a series of dramatic events that are tied to the kidnap, and perhaps the death of the little girl. And as he learns the truth, Patrick has to make a moral decision that puts his own relationship with Angela at risk.

Australian theatrical release: April 17, 2008

Australian DVD release: September 10, 2008







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