Amazing Grace? Amazing Company: A Talk with Chip Flaherty

In connection with this week’s DVD release of Amazing Grace, a national publicist arranged for Past the Popcorn Managing Editor Greg Wright to speak with Chip Flaherty, one of Walden Media’s Vice Presidents – and older brother to Micheal Flaherty, the company’s co-founder and President. Unlike most industry giants, the company is based in Boston, where the Flahertys were raised in good old-fashioned Irish Catholic style.

Greg spoke with Flaherty about Boston-themed movies, Amazing Grace, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and the ins-and-outs of the movie production business?and how Walden Media has managed to successfully connect its films with audiences.

Greg Wright: I’ve spoken with your brother Micheal a few times over the years, and I have to tell you that he doesn’t sound like a Bostonian in the way that you do. So in listening to your accent, it occurs to me that I should ask: what did you think of Gone Baby Gone?

Chip Flaherty: I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve seen The Departed, though, and the joke around the Walden Media offices is that if we ever make a film set in Boston I’d have to be hired as a language/accent technical consultant. I’m the only guy who speaks with such a thick accent. And why Mike, who is my younger brother, was able to never pick up the accent and why I did, I have no idea.

GW: Good question. But I thought Ben Affleck made the language aspect a huge part of Gone Baby Gone, which I found more immersive in the Boston milieu than even Mystic River

CF: Oh, well, in Good Will Hunting Affleck was fantastic; and in The Departed, I have to hand it to DiCaprio. He was fantastic. And Matt Damon, of course, came from there. But Damon seemed like guys I went to law school with. And he turned out to be a ruthless killer, so I don’t mean in terms of that?but just in that way of always hustling, always looking for the opportunity; and I mean that in a good sense. It falls apart in the end, and his character makes decisions that no one should in their lives. But yeah; the last couple of Boston movies have been pitch-perfect in terms of capturing the mood, the feel, and the geography; and the accent is so big for that. The other thing that’s interesting is that in our CNN-shaped world, so many regions are becoming homogenized and indistinguishable; so it’s strange to see the Boston accent still standing out. And that might be a reason more and more films are being made here, because everybody is sounding the same; but this accent sounds a little quirky, and it’s a little different.

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