GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

September 15, 2010

Rockport back on the big screen

The town of Rockport, which can count its murders on one hand, provides the backdrop for "The Last Harbor," a thriller filmed in town last year, featuring a face known in police-like roles, Wade Williams.

But Williams, son of a preacher and a teacher, came to the screen after years of musical theater. He was on the road performing in the award-winning Broadway musical "Ragtime" in Los Angeles when he made the jump to television and movies.

"The Last Harbor" will make its world premiere at the 26th Boston Film Festival on Monday, Sept. 20, at 9:15 p.m. at Stuart Street Playhouse. Tickets for films and parties are now available online for the festival that runs Sept. 17 to 23.

The $5 million film was shot primarily in Rockport, using the historic Emerson Inn by the Sea and the Rockport Police station as locations. The film was also shot at locations in Gloucester and Boston.

In addition to Williams, the film stars Samaire Armstrong, Stephanie Lemelin, Tracey Needham and Ryan Sypek.

The mystery features Boston police Detective Ian Martin, who, after botching another arrest, is given one last chance. The stressed-out detective, known for his affinity to drink, is reassigned to his tranquil hometown, Salem Harbor, where he will face inner turmoil as the story unfolds.

Scouts for this film, like many others over the decades, became enchanted with the scenery that the seaside town of 7,000 has to offer. Coupled with the commonwealth's tax incentives for filmmakers, the Rockport location became a reality.

Robin Dawson, executive director of the Boston Film Festival, said Rockport aesthetically has one of the most appealing looks for both independent and major studio filmmakers.

"Historically, it has been that way, when they are scouting locations, Rockport comes back as a top contender," said Dawson, a Rockport resident. "It almost looks like a Hollywood backdrop. You always get comments like 'Is this real? Do people really live here?'''

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