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Ben Kingsley Film to Shoot in Somers this Month

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“A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” starring Sir Ben Kingsley, is set to shoot later this month in Somers.

Somers will have some star power later this month when Academy Award winner Sir Ben Kingsley will be part of a film shoot.

Kingsley, who won the 1982 Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of “Gandhi,” is one of the stars of the independent film, “A Birder’s Guide to Everything.”

The film is being directed and co-written by Rob Mayer. According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), it is a comedy slated for release next year.

“David Portnoy, a 15-year-old birding fanatic, thinks that he’s made the discovery of a lifetime,” reads the film’s synopsis on the IMDb. “So, on the eve of his father’s remarriage, he escapes on an epic road trip with his best friends to solidify their place in birding history.”

At the July 5 Somers Town Board meeting, Kara Janeczko, the film’s location manager, said the production is receiving a grant from Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, which considers Mayer as “an up-and-coming” filmmaker, Janeczko said.

The casting of Kingsley is “a major coup” for the filmmakers, Janeczko said.

Janeczko came to the meeting seeking the waiving of the $500 fee charged to those who film in Somers. Janeczko said she wanted the Somers film shoot to last five days, using Somers High School, an area along the banks of the Muscoot River and a section of Route 100 betweens Routes 35 and 118 as locations.

The movie would be filmed with “a very small crew” of between and 40 and 50, Janeczko said. The shoot would take place over five weekdays between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., beginning July 23, she said. The movie is slated to be shot on July 23 and 24 on Route 100; on July 30 at the Muscoot River; and on Aug. 1 and 2 or Aug. 2 and 3 at the high school, she said.

While Somers town board members supported the film shoot, its members expressed reservations about waiving the $500 fee, which does not include the cost the film’s producers would pay to off-duty police officers for providing security during the shoot.

“I have to be concerned with the health and safety of Somers,” said Councilman Thomas Garrity Jr. By waiving the fee, he said, the town would in essence be subsidizing a private entity.

Somers Police Chief Michael Driscoll said he did not have the staff for traffic control on Route 100 if he were to use only on-duty officers.

Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy supported the film shoot, but added some payment was needed to offset the cost of town services during the shooting.

“It sounds like a great film,” she said. “But it will be a bit of drain on our resources.”

With Councilman Richard Benedict absent, the board, on the suggestion of Murphy, voted 4-0 to charge the $500 fee for the film shoot, but would not charge the filmmakers for police services unless the cost goes above $500.

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