Nestled midway between Boston and New York City and on the shores of both the Thames River and the Long Island Sound, the quaint, historic waterfront City of New London is no stranger to Hollywood. It has been the film location for many movies in the past, including Yours, Mine and Ours, and The Bronx Is Burning.
To add to the impressive resume, one of the most recent independent productions to film in New London is Alex D. Calvo’s The Missing Girl. Having directed four feature films (mostly of the horror genre) and numerous shorts, the Argentina-born director is treading new ground with The Missing Girl, a character-driven drama about a comic book shop owner in New London, who tries to connect with a young woman working in his shop. When she leaves town for a job interview, Mort (the shop owner) jumps to the conclusion that she’s in danger.
“The film is both a portrait of New London and of a 40-year-old man-child who learns to transition into adulthood, said Calvo. “Up until now I’ve only been doing young adult horror movies . . . I felt like I needed to do a character driven drama, something very different than the genre films.”
The Missing Girl production was in New London this past June for a 21-day shoot. Post-production currently takes place in Waterford, Connecticut, a neighboring town just under six miles away. Being a Connecticut-resident himself, It's no wonder the director has made most - if not all - of his previous feature films in Connecticut.
"Luckily, I had submitted a pre-eligibility application prior to the moratorium [signed in 2013, barring many motion picture productions from claiming the tax credit through 2015], and we had already been working on the project so I was able to get grandfathered in," said Calvo. "Without a doubt — I would have made my last film in Rhode Island, right across the border, if I hadn't gotten my tax credit grandfathered in."
The director firmly believes that it’s the small indie productions (both for film and television) that laid the foundation for Connecticut’s film industry. "The beautiful thing about these smaller films is they are the incubators for the workforce that has lured these studios to come set up television shows here," Calvo said. "A lot of the people that worked on my films have gone on to work on those TV shows."
The Missing Girl crew was mostly New London-based. And with the exception of a one-day shoot in Brooklyn, New York, the movie otherwise was also filmed entirely in New London. Not only that, the action was set in the city as well. "We are representing New London as New London, which I'm really happy about as a resident here," said Jonas Sanchez, the film's locations manager and a New London resident. "We are pleased that it shows the breadth of New London; its economic diversity, its ethnic diversity. It's a nice feather in the cap, I think."
Many of New London’s Union Street storefronts grace the background of the movie. The Missing Girl was also filmed at the New London City Hall, the Crocker House, Monica’s State Street Diner, Union Station, a Methodist Street apartment, Zambala Grocery Store, and in two houses off Montauk Avenue. It's no surprise that New London subtly becomes an important character in the movie.
“We very much like the feeling of it; the brick, the old houses, the streets; it has a real atmosphere,” said the movie’s producer Mike S. Ryan. “There is just a lot of real character in this city which we’re trying to capture in the film.”
The director chose New London as the film location for The Missing Girl because many of the crew was from the area and also because he loves the look of the waterfront city. “There’s a certain sense of nostalgia,” said Calvo. “The characters are stuck in town a little bit. We needed a town to do that.”
The New London community was more than happy to have The Missing Girl filming in town. Local businesses such as The Garde Arts Center (where the movie production set up its offices during the shoot), Hanafins Irish Pub, the Washington Street Cafe, and the City of New London itself, were very supportive of the production.
In addition to being a popular New England film location, New London is also the home of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and America's Tall Ship, the Barque Eagle, a popular historic whaling port, and an arts and cultural center.
Starring Robert Longstreet and Alexia Rasmussen, with cinematography by Ava Berkofsky, The Missing Girl is slated for submission to the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. And hopefully we will all get to see it on the big screen soon. "We are really excited about this film! It is the third project we have worked with Alex on," said Mark Dixon, of the Connecticut Office of Film, Television & Digital Media. "Our office was involved from the ground up on this production and also worked closely with the New London Film Commission."
For information on filming in beautiful Connecticut, visit the Connecticut Office of Film, Television & Digital Media, a Reel-Scout client. The film office's mission is to assist local, national and international productions with finding film locations in Connecticut, navigating through the state's rules and procedures for filming, securing permits, hiring local cast and crew, and many other film-related services.
Browse Connecticut’s film locations.