January 13, 2016 GBVS on the Big Screen!
This weekend’s Boston Tweed Group event will take place at the Oak Long Bar of the historic Fairmont Copley Plaza. Recently, the Fairmont was featured in the filming of a new Warner Bros film titled “Live By Night”. From the novel by Dennis Lehane, this Ben Affleck directed film is the story of a policeman’s son who enters a life of crime in 1927 Boston. A number of GBVS members were in the cast of 500 extras and below is a telling of some experiences.
An Extra in Ben Affleck’s New Film: by Margaret Park Bridges
My call time was 5am last November at the Westin Hotel in Boston. As one of hundreds of “background” extras in the production of Live by Night, I lined up to get my makeup and hair done. The movie is set in the 1920s, so I allowed my hair to be bobbed and then it was set in Marcel waves, using hair clips with halved playing cards placed between each clip. Fifty other hairpins and hairspray held my hair in place.
Off to the dressing room, where a dedicated dresser helped me into my authentic vintage 1920s flapper gown. The first thing I had to do was place what looked like a hair net over my face, to prevent my makeup from rubbing off on the clothing. My slip went on over my head after that, then the lacy, embroidered cream-colored shift and matching headdress with a spray of white feathers in front. I was given new panty hose that had a seam up the back for authentic effect. But my shoes were real vintage ‘20s heels.
The scene we were filming was an extravagant Prohibition-era party filmed in the Fairmont Copley Plaza gold-and-mirrors ballroom, which was supposed to be Boston’s old Statler Hotel. We all marched across Dartmouth Street from one hotel to the other and upon entering were given champagne glasses, filled with ginger ale of course. Each of us was placed in the ballroom and given instructions for when the director said “Action!” I was assigned a male partner with whom I was directed to laugh gaily as we made our way through the partygoers from one corner of the room to another.
Ben Affleck and Sienna Miller were the principals in the scene, but the real stars were the costumes. Furs, beads, sequins, and of course, long strands of pearls. The men were all decked out in old tuxedos, many of which I heard had been used in the Titanic movie.
The final scene of the day was filmed outside, walking in to the hotel. Model T and Model A cars were parked in the street, as well as a horse and coach. It was freezing cold and although we were given flapper coats, the wind whipped right through them. But being an extra in that movie was an unforgettable experience, not in small part because of the fine details that were put into how we all looked!
The 3 pictures above are (from top to bottom): The Fairmont Copley exterior, the North End set, and the Lawrence, MA factory set. All three photos are from the Live by Night Twitter feed provided at the link below.
Recreating the Hotel Statler: by Jason Volk
The scene above represents the grand opening of the Hotel Statler in Boston. Never heard of the Statler? Much of Boston’s Art Deco history is hidden in name changes and renovation through the years. In 1927 the Hotel Statler opened with great fan fair. It was a massive hotel with 1,300 rooms and took up a whole city block. Said to be a “city within a city”, it was the first hotel in the world to feature a radio in every room. We know it today as the Boston Park Plaza on 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St. Although basically the same on the outside, much of the interior is now modern and its room count has decreased to around 1,000 due to the addition of many suites. It was in a state of decline and disrepair until a recent $95-million renovation in 2015.
The studio was fortunate to be able to use the Fairmont Copley as a substitute location. The Fairmont opened in 1912 and has a similar granite brick façade, although somewhat of a different entry configuration. The set crews did their best though and actually removed many signs from the Fairmont and replaced them with that of the Statler. The important imagery to the story is the Statler’s Versailles-style ballroom. Although smaller, the Fairmont’s Grand Ballroom is very similar in design and also includes the same 2nd floor balcony which was pivotal to the scenes written in Lehane’s novel.
The dedication to period authenticity for this film was beyond expectation. The tables were set for a grand meal, a string quartet played in the center, and “cigarette girls” circled the room with trays containing reproduction smokes, candy, money, and even matchbooks bearing the Statler name. The experienced camera and lighting crew even managed to weave massive equipment through the tight doorways, apparently without damaging any of the historic furnishings. Filming wrapped after a long 15-hour day. It was an amazing experience to be part of the most extravagant Roaring 20’s party that never even had a drop of real alcohol!
The 2 pictures above are (from top to bottom): A vintage postcard of the Hotel and a period photo of the Fairmont Ballroom. “Live by Night” is planned for release in 2017. I can’t wait for it to hit the theaters! In the meantime go out and get the book, it’s a great read! Here are links for more info:
October 31, 2015 GBVS Featured in Vintage Affair Magazine!
GBVS in the press! A nice article about GBVS was published in this month’s Vintage Affair Magazine! Thanks to author Doreen McBride and Vintage Affair for putting this together and also to Vintage Girl Studios for the photos! You can get a digital download or hardcopy of the magazine here: