MERRIMAC — It's not every day that a major Hollywood production is filmed on the North Shore.
But with Matthew McConaughey, Michael Douglas and Mel Gibson in our midst this summer, it becomes clear those days are becoming more common.
As "Edge of Darkness," starring Mel Gibson continues shooting this week in Merrimac on River Road, the possibility of more star sightings and movie crews in local communities continues to build.
But how does a Mel Gibson decide that the Rocks Village bridge in Merrimac would be the perfect setting for his film?
It starts with a call to the Mass. Film Office.
With much of the film being shot in Northampton, the company was looking for a site that resembles the Connecticut River — which the Merrimack does.
Nick Paleologos, the executive director of the Mass. Film Office, said he's proud that Hollywood isn't just coming to the state and just staying in Boston.
"It isn't just Boston, it's everywhere, and that's the most gratifying part of this," he said, adding that the "Edge of Darkness" has also filmed in Deerfield, Taunton and Beverly, among other places. "It's everywhere, and the more, the merrier."
Seventeen major productions have shot in Massachusetts in less than three years. Several more are in production. North Shore locations have included Ipswich, North Andover, Rockport, Gloucester, Marblehead and Plum Island. "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" was filmed at the Crane Estate in Ipswich earlier this summer, starring McConaughey and Douglas. An independent film dubbed "The Jones" filmed around Newburyport.
Paleologos said his office works with producers in finding appropriate scenes and film-friendly places throughout the state.
Once a script is determined to be right for filming in Massachusetts, his office will break the script down into locations — whether it's a seacoast town, an urban city or a suburb — and choose places in that region where shooting could occur. They then send photographs of different sites to the producers.