Every year since 2001, Film Fund Grants in the amount of $5,000 have been awarded by the Community Affairs and Public Relations Committee of the town council out of the revenues collected from filming permits issued in the borough. However, it must be noted that the benefits
Ridge derives from film shoots within its borders are far greater than the grants dispersed - particularly since the town has become something of a
Mecca for location finders. Revenues to the borough from permit and per diem fees have doubled in the past two years, and the lion's share has been used for property-tax relief.
In addition, production companies frequently make generous contributions to organizations within the town as goodwill gestures. For example, the production company responsible for the filming of "Mona Lisa Smile" in 2002 made substantial contributions to the South End Association, the
Center , and the Ashenfelter 8K Race; it also paid for the repainting of the interior of the Women's Club. More recently, the producers of "Taking Chance," an HBO movie with Kevin Bacon, paid the Board of Education a sum that allowed for the refurbishing of the high school's gymnasium floor, and another film company paid for the Golden Circle's trip to
West Point last fall.
Of course, residents whose houses are chosen for shoots also benefit from the filming boom in town. In the past year, over twenty different homes in the borough- and not always the more palatial ones - were used for commercials. In fact, those chosen ran a gamut from modest to grand. One young couple, for example, were thrilled to have their rather dilapidated garage deemed the perfect setting for a Budweiser commercial over far more comely choices.
But perhaps the greatest benefit the town derives from film shoots is the gratuitous sense of identity and recognition they impart. Certainly, the almost uniformly positive reaction of producers, directors and actors to the town is gratifying. In a television interview actor Anthony LaPaglia gave to Larry King shortly after finishing the filming of “Winter Solstice” in town, he went on at some length about the gracious hospitality he and his fellow actors had received from Glen Ridgers in general and from the residents of Lincoln Street in particular.
Of course, there is always a bit of inconvenience to those living near a film shoot. By the same token, who doesn’t enjoy seeing Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst arriving at the Train Station or dancing at the Women’s Club (“Mona Lisa Smile”); Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon among trick-or-treaters on Lincoln Street (“The Step-Mom”); Susan Sarandon and Sam Shepherd bemoaning the death of their son on Hillside Avenue (“Safe Passages”); Sigourney Weaver wringing her hands over her dysfunctional family on Douglas Road (“Ordinary Heroes”); or Julianne Moore waving a fond adieu from the train platform (“Far from Heaven”)? Even when the movie is a dud,
Ridge always seems to shine.
Filming permits are handled through the Borough Administrator. For more information, please call 973-748-8400 extension 226 or download an application at http://www.glenridgenj.org/filmapp.htm