Arts & Culture

Star-studded production to film in Rhode Island

Actors venture to Ocean State for sci-fi love story, Redford returns for first time in four decades

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Robert Redford, Jason Segel and Rooney Mara will be coming soon to a location near you. Literally.

In two weeks, the star-studded cast will begin filming the movie “The Discovery,” directed by Charlie McDowell and set primarily in Rhode Island.

The Ocean State backdrop will  depict a world where the existence of the afterlife has been scientifically proven. Relying on the next life, characters take their own lives as a way to press restart.

Redford will play the scientist who has discovered the afterlife. Segel will star as his rebellious son, while Mara is set to play his troubled love interest.

This is not the first time Rhode Island will appear in the background for the big screen. The 1974 version of “The Great Gatsby” was shot in the mansions of Newport, while Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” was filmed around Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. Maya Forbes and Ericka Hampson’s “Infinitely Polar Bear” was filmed primarily in Providence.

Hampson will return to her home state of Rhode Island to produce “The Discovery.”

Redford and Mara are no strangers to acting in the state either. Redford will make his re-appearance after filming “The Great Gatsby” four decades ago. Mara makes the return trip after starring in “Tanner Hall,” a Brown alum-produced bildungsroman shot across Rhode Island in 2009.

Part of Rhode Island’s appeal as a cinematographic playground belongs to the RI Film and TV Office, which aims to promote the state to the film industry.

Steven Feinberg, executive director of the organization, describes the office’s staff as “red tape” cutters.

“Time is money on a film,” Feinberg said. To quicken the process, Feinberg said his department takes the reins from filmmakers with all matters regarding Rhode Island — scouting the locations, doing the legal work and making sure police and fire departments are on notice about filming.

“We’re a one-stop shop,” he said.

Feinberg said that the state’s consistent appeal to these actors and film-makers comes from its small size.

Rhode Island is great because “you can be in a cityscape one minute, and then you need to be in a rural setting 20 minutes from there — you’re not going to have to drive millions of miles like if you’re in Los Angeles,” he said.

In a press statement, Gov. Gina Raimondo echoed the sentiment. “With our unique locations in close proximity … Rhode Island is the perfect place to make a successful movie,” she said.

The state’s varied locations have been capitalized on heavily in the past year. For “November Criminals,” an upcoming drama starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Feinberg scouted Providence, explaining, “we’re supposed to double for D.C., and I know that our statehouse in the background can look like D.C.” When Woody Allen needed a university for his 2015 film “Irrational Man,” Feinberg pointed him in the direction of Newport’s Salve Regina University.

As for “The Discovery,” all Feinberg can reveal is that it will be filmed primarily in Newport.

Feinberg said he’s looking forward to assisting with all aspects of the sci-fi love story, which commences in two weeks and will shoot until early May.

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