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Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Kill For Me Productions is shown Monday on Storrie Street in Amsterdam filming a scene from a thriller scheduled for release next year.


Amsterdam the backdrop for movie makers

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - Updated: 10:30 AM


The Rug City's post-industrial architecture will be the centerpiece of a feature film scheduled for release some time next year.

The production company Kill For Me Films LLC moved into the city in June to shoot the thriller "Kill For Me" starring actor Bailey Chase, who plays a lead role on A&E's television series "Longmire."

The cast and crew were on set Monday afternoon at 24 Storrie St., where they filmed a scene taking place at a halfway house. Later in the evening, the set moved to 68 Brookside Ave., where the crew shot another clip involving Chase and his character's love interest.

"If we wanted a suburb we wouldn't be doing it here. This is a much more complex and compelling type of landscape," director Tim McCann said Monday during his lunch break.

The screenplay is written by Raymond Kwok, whose story revolves around the life of ex-convict Charlie Sundstrom. Sundstrom, played by Chase, is released from prison after serving 20 years for a murder he did not intend to commit. He is in search of his troubled son, whose life is suddenly threatened by gang members after Sundstrom is released from jail.

Helping Chase find his son is a corrections officer he befriended named Hank, played by actor and Spider-Man 2 star Dylan Baker, and Chase's love interest Helen, played by actress Kathryn Erbe.

Among Chase's other credits is the former TNT TV series "Saving Grace," starring Holly Hunter. Baker has appeared in numerous movie and television roles, most recently "Anchorman 2" in theaters and "The Good Wife" on the small screen. Erbe is perhaps best known for her role on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and the feature film "Stir of Echoes."

McCann said the movie takes place in the present day, and Amsterdam is the kind of environment the production company sought.

Producer Benjamin Bickham said he scouted for a city with a "post-apocalyptic feel," and Amsterdam fit the mold. The director agreed.

McCann said Amsterdam is both a city of beauty and ruins. He said this reflects the emotional state of Sundstrom throughout the film.

Although he was impressed by the architecture of Amsterdam, the residents also lured his crew as well.

"The post-industrial landscape is a particular aesthetic and the town kind of embodies that and it is not just about the devastation. It is about the people working hard and blue-collar working-class pulse that is happening within this," McCann said.

Bickham said the production team first explored the cities of Troy, Albany and Newburgh but finally settled on Amsterdam in June.

Bickham said the New York State Film Tax Credit Program offered the company an additional tax break for filming in Montgomery County.

According to the program's website, qualified production companies can receive a fully refundable credit of 30 percent as an incentive to film in the state.

McCann said the production company received an extra 10 percent for filming upstate.

"It is obviously good for communities to have productions come through because we do things and spend money," McCann said.

In addition to Amsterdam, the movie has also been shot at the former Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton.

Chase said filming at the correctional facility helped prepare him to play an ex-convict. Chase, who plays a deputy sheriff on the show "Longmire," said he does not normally portray disturbed characters.

He said spending several days at the prison got him into character and he felt emotionally ready to take on the role.

"Creatively it is a lot of fun. I have never gone this dark before," he said.

McCann said he was excited to see Chase transform into the ex-convict, and to watch Dylan's and Erbe's roles come to life.

McCann said the production company also hired several residents from the city, as well as Albany, to play extras in the movie.

Both the director and Chase said local residents have welcomed to the production, and were grateful for the opportunity to take part.

The production team is temporarily located in the Clock Tower building at 37 Prospect St., in a small room with bright white walls.

On Monday, the room was abuzz with editors staring at their laptops, producers in search of actors, and interns quietly eating their free-but-well-deserved lunch.

McCann said at night, the group heads to Fulton-Montgomery Community College dorm rooms for rest. The time away from home gives the production team a deeper focus on the task at hand, he said.

"It is always good getting the crew and getting away. You have a different atmosphere. The crew is locked into the production and they are not going home at night," McCann said.

Bickham said the production team has stayed in touch with many city officials, including the Amsterdam Police Department.

Police Chief Gregory Culick said he appreciates the production company's cooperation.

Culick said a person from the production crew sends the office a call sheet every morning, which outlines every aspect of that day's filming, from costumes to scenery and most importantly where the shooting will take place.

Culick has worked at the department for 26 years and said he never witnessed a major film production take over the city the way Kill For Me has.

Culick said officers have mostly assisted the team with street closures and provided barricades when needed. He said the department has not received any complaints about the production thus far.

"It seems they have everything under control and have had little to no problems with anybody," Culick said.

Bickham said the filming should wrap up Aug. 10 and it will take about a year to edit the movie. Although the film is currently named "Kill For Me," Bickham said the title could change to "No Beast So Fierce," once the movie is ready for public viewing.

"Hopefully we will get a theatrical release, then it will come out on video on demand, Redbox and Netflix and all that good stuff," Bickham said. "Every time you make a movie, deals are a little bit different."


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