Paula Mitchell

Paula Mitchell

KINGSTON–These days, it’s becoming a more common sight in Ulster County and throughout the Hudson Valley.

Film companies are rolling in, taking over streets, bringing in big stars and even shooting scenes at private homes.

It all adds up to a more robust economy and starring role for the region in major productions.

'Game of Thrones' Star Shoots Film at Uptown Kingston Home

The home of the Dunn family at 159 Main St., which was used as a set on Wednesday for the film “Departures.” Photo by Paula Mitchell.

Such was the case on Wednesday as “Departures,” a teen drama produced by Voltage Pictures, had moved Uptown for additional filming.

It stars 20-year-old English actress Maisie Williams, known for her role as Arya Stark on the HBO drama “Game of Thrones,” Nina Dobrev of “The Vampire Diaries” and Asa Butterfield of “The Space Between Us.”

According to IMBd, the film is about Skye (played by Williams), a spirited teenager with a terminal illness who befriends Calvin (Asa Butterfield), a 19-year-old hypochondriac working as a baggage handler at the local airport.

Word has spread over the past few weeks in Kingston as film activity has picked up and parking restrictions have been enforced.

On Wednesday morning, city officials posted signs on Lafayette Avenue, ordering residents to move their cars off the street to make way for the movie and equipment trucks.

'Game of Thrones' Star Shoots Film at Uptown Kingston Home

Crew members go in and out of the house on Wednesday afternoon just before shooting a major scene in the master bedroom. Photo by Paula Mitchell.

Filming began around 10 a.m. and concluded after midnight. The hub of activity was at 159 Main St., an 1890 Victorian home owned by the Dunn family.

The three-story white house, at the intersection of Main and Lafayette, has striking features and a peacock sculpture on the front lawn.

The Dunns, like many in the neighborhood, stood across the street, watching producers, prop people, electricians, lighting experts and others connected with the film scurry in and out of the house.

Just after 5 p.m., a major scene was being filmed in the master bedroom. A man on the porch politely asked those who had gathered across the street, including a little boy dribbling a basketball, to keep the noise down.

Homeowner Zoe Dunn said it was all part of the excitement of being connected to a large-scale production.

“We hope that more of these come to Kingston and to the Hudson Valley because we want to welcome this kind of industry here. I think it’s terrific for the local economy,” she said.

In the late winter, the film “Furlough” was shot at various locations in Kingston, the town of Ulster and Pine Plains in Dutchess County.

The low-budget independent film brought in Oscar-winning actresses Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg and Anna Paquin.

All the activity is likely due to recent state legislation that allows film and TV production companies to receive the same tax credits for filming in the Hudson Valley as in New York City.

Laurent Rejto, the director of the Hudson Valley Film Commission, said that several more projects are planned in the months ahead.

As far as the Wednesday shoot, the Dunns were pleased to see their house in the spotlight, hosting starlets.

“‘Game of Thrones’ is my favorite show ever, so we’re excited that she’s in our bedroom,” Dunn said.

The family got lucky in recent days as filmmakers scouted the neighborhood, looking for a grand, old home as a set.

“My husband was actually working outside on our property, and they said, ‘Can we take a look inside your house?’

“We have kind of an open architecture, even though it’s a Victorian, but the flow of the first floor really appealed to them because there’s a lot of angles that they can shoot from,” she said.

The filmmakers paid the Dunns for use of their home and even put them up at a bed and breakfast at the Rondout–what they consider a mini-vacation close to home.

Still, the burst of activity was more than the family anticipated.

“I think we’ve learned a lot by doing this,” Dunn said. “I do have to say that it has been kind of an intense experience for all of us. I’m not sure we realized how intense it would be. It’s hard to be out of your home when you’re going to work or school and you need your stuff.

“It’s arduous and not something I would take lightly in the future, but the production team has been so incredibly respectful to us and kind to us.

“They treated our things very well. They took all our stuff out and put it in a truck and wrapped it all up in bubble wrap, so it’s been a good experience for us.”

Voltage is co-producing the film with BCDF Pictures. Peter Hutchings, known for projects such as “The Outcasts” and “Rhymes With Banana” is directing the film.

It will be released sometime next year, according to IMBd.


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