The hollywood connection

Your parents covered their eyes when Regan’s devil-possessed body turned completely around in “The Exorcist” and reminisced about their younger years watching Emilio Estevez and Co. figure out post-collegiate life in “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Dozens of years later, you watched with your friends as the Russell Crowe movie “State of Play” opened to a police chase through familiar streets.

What do these movies and countless others have in common? They either prominently feature or have significant scenes in Georgetown. Hollywood’s fascination with the neighborhood has allowed for plenty of national exposure, including director James L. Brooks’s return to D.C. this summer to film his yet-to-be-titled romantic comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Josh Friedman, communications director for Washington’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, said that while Georgetown may seem like a popular destination for movies, it is important to look at how movies have been spread throughout town in recent years.

“D.C.’s neighborhoods are diverse and interesting and that’s what makes it encouraging to explore the whole city,” Friedman said.

If a movie studio is interested in using a neighborhood such as Georgetown to film in. it typically speaks with Friedman’s office first and then assesses its needs and what it is hoping to accomplish. “We help them acquire permits and such,” Friedman said. “While we don’t advocate for one neighborhood over another, production may ask for recommendations for certain locations.”

Movies like “The Exorcist” and “St. Elmo’s Fire” have helped put Georgetown on the map. The Office of Motion Picture and Television Development feels very strongly that motion picture and television filming are beneficial for the city. “Economically it certainly helps, as the film industry spends millions each year on hotel stays, restaurant receipts, building supplies, equipment rentals and the like,” Friedman said. “It also creates hundreds of jobs for local residents.”

Friedman shed light on the rumor that D.C. is notoriously difficult to film movies in. “It’s a big misconception; I don’t think D.C. is any more difficult than other cities,” he said. “We do hear from time to time of people frustrated with security concerns and difficult access to the Capitol and White House, but we really try to make filming as easy as possible.”

Residents of D.C. neighborhoods like Georgetown are overwhelmingly positive and excited about film production in their neighborhoods, Friedman said. I had the opportunity to watch the Brooks’s comedy filming at the Georgetown waterfront park and the dozen or so people watching Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd film a rain scene were very cooperative.

“We do everything in our power to minimize disruptions to business workers and provide options for residents,” Friedman said.

The office has received a lot of positive feedback from directors, producers and the like about how much they’ve enjoyed the city. “James L. Brooks has expressed how much he loved working in D.C. and really wanted to come bring his new project back here,” Friedman said. “We hear all the time from filmmakers, directors and producers about how much they love working in the District.”

Friedman also mentioned that D.C.’s neighborhoods are one of the best selling points about the city. “One of the great things about this city is its diverse, unique, interesting neighborhoods,” he said. “When promoting the city to Hollywood, we really have a little bit of everything here.”

Brooks’s film is set to spend 14 weeks in pre- and post-production and principal photography this summer, including a few Georgetown scenes.

Also, it has finally happened — the 23rd season of MTV’s “The Real World” is also filming in D.C. this summer, with the castmates’ house in the Dupont Circle area. “The Real Housewives” franchise also plans to film a season in the District soon.