Holyoke Welcomes NYC Production Text Size

The City of Holyoke will be hosting the production of a short film during five days of filming that begins on Saturday, August 24th.  The production, titled Body of Crime, is the work of Writer/Director Laurence Vannicelli and is scheduled to be screened at New York City’s Lincoln Center as part of Columbia University’s Film Festival next spring. As Vannicelli’s master’s dissertation in the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program, the film will center on a detective who is sent to a rural town to investigate the mysterious death of a teenage girl. 

Hosting the production is part of an ongoing effort to capitalize on creative industries in Holyoke. “Holyoke’s relative proximity to the City makes it an ideal spot to produce projects like this,” said Body of Crime producer Jesse Gustafson.  “We’ve been able to drive up on weekdays to scout locations, audition cast, and meet with crew.”

The film’s producers worked closely with the City’s Creative Economy Coordinator, Jeffrey C. Bianchine, to identify locations and local production resources. The team toured Holyoke with Bianchine and selected property along the Connecticut River owned by Holyoke Gas & Electric to stage the main scenes of the film – a small scene will also be shot in the old Jail Cells at the City Hall Annex.

“Holyoke isn’t just an ideal place for commercial photo and film production because of the variety of rural and urban landscapes and the character you’ll find throughout the City’s architecture – there is a talented creative workforce that exists in Western Mass that producers can tap into, ” said Bianchine.

Two local professionals have been hired on the production team for Body of Crime, Colleen Lyon of Holyoke is one. As an Associate Producer she has been responsible for all the local casting, transporting crew and equipment, as well as managing a Production Assistant.

“I am having a great time,” Lyon said. “I love working on films and it’s so wonderful to have it happening in my backyard.” Lyon is also responsible for casting and organizing extra’s for the film. Those residents interested in participating in the film as an extra can contact her at

Extras cast in the film will be joining three Western Mass actors who have been cast in supporting roles and three lead actors who were cast in New York City – Chloe Levine, Justin R. G. Holcomb and James Heaphy. Levine has appeared in the TV series Third Watch, several short films, and most recently in the off-Broadway play “Save Me”.  Holcomb has had a long career in theater including a staring role in the theatrical version of A Christmas Story, and has appeared in several short films. Heaphy has played parts in several short and feature films including the 2011 film about 9/11, 8:46. 

“It’s great to see more film production attracted to Holyoke. This is a creative industry that employees painters, carpenters and seamstresses as well as actors and cinematographers.  Local retail, restaurants and hotels will benefit when these crews come to our town,” said Mayor Alex B. Morse.

In advance of filming, producers have been in the area purchasing provisions in preparation for the full cast and crew’s arrival this weekend.  Area restaurants are being used to assure cast and crew will be well fed both on and off the set, two Western Mass crew members have been hired for pre-production work and a hotel in serve as lodging for the three lead actors.

This is the second major film project to be produced in Holyoke this year. In March, former Pixar animator, and Hampshire college professor, Chris Perry filmed his live-action short titled Seed at the Wauregan Building on Dwight Street. Seed’s crew of 24 included artist Michael Martindell and actor Tom Friedmann from Holyoke and several other local professionals. Currently the project is in post-production, where animated effects are being added.  Perry expects Seed will be on the national festival circuit in 2014.

“We’re cultivating local and regional relationships to promote the City as a place to do this kind of business. Attracting productions like these is a very good sign that those efforts are beginning to bear fruit” said Marcos Marrero, Director of Planning and Economic Development.

Posted on August 22, 2013 by