AMHERST — A film written and directed by playwright Annie Baker, shot in the area this summer, is filming in the Mount Pollux Conservation Area for two days next month.
But even when the film crew is at the South Amherst site, tentatively on the afternoons and evenings of August 15 and 16, audiences will still be able to access the location.
The Conservation Commission on Wednesday approved the land use application submitted by members of the production company for the feature film titled ‘Janet Planet’, which, according to an online description, ‘follows 11-year-old Lacy, her mother Janet and the three people who came into their lives one summer in 1991.”
Meredith Crowley, stage manager for the production, told the commission that the Mount Pollux scene was important to Baker.
“It’s one of the most special places for our director,” Crowley said of the drumlin, formed by glaciers, which offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding area.
Filming will be done in a low-impact manner, with minimal on-stage crew and limited utilities needed on location.
Due to the difficult access to the site and the small parking area, the production company will hire police officers to improve public safety.
Additionally, production assistants will assist people walking around the site to make sure they don’t interfere while filming is in progress.
Crowley said the site would only be needed for two days, but dates might have to change in the event of bad weather. Amherst will also receive $1,500 for each day of filming.
Audrey Lorea, who is also involved in the production, told the commission that the commission’s plans were to transport people offsite and drop them off at Mount Pollux, rather than parking there.
Although approved, Commissioner Michelle Labbe expressed concern about fairness and the precedent set by approving the use of the site.
“My main concern is to say we’re closing the parking lot for this event because I don’t want to do it for just one event,” Labbe said.
Labbe notes that the site is popular for weddings, with one also approved for September. Like the shooting of the film, the wedding party will not be able to close the site.
Wetlands administrator Erin Jacque said that even with approval, Mount Pollux is first-come, first-served, and no one will tell people already there to leave once filming begins.
Much of the filming is being done in the coming weeks in the region.
Scott Merzbach can be contacted at [email protected]