From the movie moment that gave the film “cliffhanger” its name—the fictional Pauline’s brush with death on the New Jersey Palisades in the 1914 silent film The Perils of Pauline—to today, the area surrounding the Hudson River has been a popular spot for film production. The Hudson Valley Film Commission’s website contains a multitude of behind-the-scenes photos from films shot primarily or partly in the Hudson River Valley, from War of the Worlds to The Night Listener. This year, three Hudson Valley-based projects, including two that have already been released nationally, will give the Valley some recognition in the cinematic world.
GROWING UP SMITH:
Growing Up Smith is the story of a family from India making a new start in the 1979 United States, focusing especially on the family’s ten-year-old son, Smith. The screenwriter, Paul Quinn, spent much of his life in the Hudson Valley, and though the film takes place in the Midwest, much of it was shot in Kingston. Jason Lee, two-time Golden Globe nominee for My Name is Earl (and also Syndrome in The Incredibles, which I find far more notable), plays Smith’s neighbor. The film won Best Feature Narrative Audience Award at the 2015 Woodstock Film Fest.
Stray Bullets is a thriller, the feature-film debut of its sixteen-year-old director, Jack Fessenden. The film was shot over a period of sixteen days in July 2015, in several Hudson River Valley towns, including Kingston, Woodstock, and Marbletown. Stray Bullets is the story of two teens who come across a trio of criminals in an abandoned mobile home. Both Jack and his father, actor/director Larry Fessenden, have roles in the film.
THE AWAKENING is an independent film that was shot primarily in Liberty, in Sullivan County. It’s a supernatural thriller about a soldier whose son develops preternatural powers and mystically uncovers information about a missing resident of the town. It wrapped up filming at the end of 2016, and its producer, Michael Goodin, had nothing but good things to say about the film’s Hudson Valley shooting location, calling Sullivan “the most film-friendly county I’ve seen.” The film stars Tammy Blanchard, a Golden Globe nominee who had roles in Moneyball and Into the Woods.
Growing Up Smith and Stray Bullets were both released nationally in February: the former on the 3rd and the latter on the 10th. The Awakening is scheduled for release at the end of 2017.
- Meghan Jones, Marist ’17
*You can read about past movies shot in the Hudson River Valley here.