Liberty Hospitality is go-to lodging choice for major film productions

When movie stars come to Maine, they stay here

Thu, 07/11/2013 - 11:15am

They've been deliberately under-the-radar for more than a decade, but it's a little known fact: the Cedar Crest Inn and Country Inn in Camden, and Navigator Motor Inn and Tradewinds Motor Inn in Rockland, have all been the temporary homes for the cast and crew of major motion pictures. These four inns comprise Liberty Hospitality of Maine, which has been the go-to lodging option for film crews since the early 1990s. The four accommodations have put up cast and crew of Anatomy of The Tide (2011), In The Bedroom (2001), Stephen King's Thinner, (1995), Mel Gibson's Man Without a Face (1992), FoodTV Productions' Lobster Festival segments, and numerous smaller commercial shoots.

Stephen Liberty, owner of Liberty Hospitality of Maine, understands the high-intensity world of film crews. His first exposure to filmmaking came about at age 5, when his parents took him to observe a crew shooting scenes in Penobscot Bay for the 1977 TV movie, Captains Courageous.  Little did he know, years later in his hospitality career that his path would once again cross with the film industry.

"We sort of fell into it," he said. "We had a fair amount of activity in the 1990s. There was a pretty good run there where every year or two, film companies would come to the coast and film something here."

He's met quite a few stars, as have his staff.. . not that they're telling.

"Discretion is the name of the game," he said. "To our credit, we don't advertise when stars are staying here or what their schedules might be. But we've had Sissy Spacek, Mel Gibson, and Marisa Tomei stay with us. Quite honestly, a lot of the bigger name stars use pseudonyms anyway when they check in."

Liberty has watched nearly all of the films of the production companies he has hosted. "It's always fun to see shots of our area. And actually in the film In The Bedroom, there is a shot of the Tradewinds sign coming down Route 1 on sort of a dark, rainy night, which is kind of neat."

Liberty will also attend the latest film set to premiere in the Midcoast later this month, Anatomy of the Tide, another locally shot, independent film, which has been their most recent client.

"It's kind of interesting to have been involved in this one in that we're also one of their minor investors," he said. "They raised local funds to get production off the ground and it's been great to participate in that film in a minor way as well as put up some of their crew."

Liberty said the Maine Film Office, a central resource for television, film and media production across the state, has been intregral to his connection to the film industry. They recently upgraded their Production Guide, essentially a free database listing Maine cast, crew and support services. This is a boon to the creative economy. Now, anyone with a skill or who can provide goods and services to the film industry can get a listing, which helps producers find talented and available crews and support services available in Maine.  

By creating a listing in the Production Guide, local crew and businesses can create and update their own profiles, describe their experience, list their credits, identify their associations, promote their own websites, and upload a resume or company brochure.  All individuals and businesses that are available to support filmmaking in the state — prop makers, electricians, hotels, restaurants, office supplies, car rentals, and furniture stores, and a variety of other businesses — are encouraged to create a listing in the Production Guide database.  

"The Maine Film Office does a good job of being the initial point of contact for these production companies that are scouting for locations," said Liberty, who advised those interested in being part of this database to know what they're getting into. When a film production is underway, it's not a "9-5" commitment.

"It is a 24-7 operation when a production is going on," he said. "There are calls at midnight, 4 a.m. wakeups, but it's kind of fun. It's exciting to be part of the 40 or 50 days a film crew is here shooting. It's flat out at times, but then it's over and you won't see it again for awhile."

In addition to the Production Guide, the Maine Film Office has rolled out a new location database, which allows anyone in Maine with property to upload photos of their residence or property for possible use in an upcoming production, simultaneously allowing filmmakers to scout for locations virtually.

The online registration form for the Maine Film Office Production Guide can be found by visiting www.filminmaine.com and clicking "Production Guide" or "Location."

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Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com.