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Indy film shooting in Tacoma stars Michael Pitt of HBO’s ‘Boardwalk Empire’

Post by Craig Sailor / The News Tribune on May 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm with 12 Comments »
May 2, 2012 8:13 am

Michael Pitt (PHOTO: HBO)
A film about an outlaw hobo starring Hollywood actor Michael Pitt is filming in Tacoma through Thursday.

“You Can’t Win” features Pitt, one of the stars of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” and Hannah Marks of this year’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

The film is an adaptation of a 1926 autobiography by hobo and burglar Jack Black. Filming with Pitt is taking place in and around Old City Hall now through May 3.

Black’s autobiography covers his life on the road in the western United States and Canada. He was born near Vancouver, B.C. in 1881. His writings influenced author William S. Burroughs and others of the Beat Generation.

Robinson Devor is the director and Charles Mudede, a long time writer for Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper, shares screen writing credits. Devor directed Mudede’s 2007 documentary “Zoo” about a sexual encounter between a horse and a man in Enumclaw in 2005.

I spoke with Mudede this evening about the film. Mudede wasn’t familiar with the book when Devor brought him in on the project but he quickly became a fan.

“We really tried to write a story about a person who became a thief. He learns how to crack safes, deal with police officers. He’s writing (the book) when the country is thinking about prison reform. (The message is) You can’t win because the game is too difficult.”

The book has rich, colorful details, Mudede said. “More than you can imagine. The sad thing is all the things we had to leave out (for the film adaptation). The book is so rich in information.”

When Pitt read the script and signed on he asked for some changes which impressed Mudede, he said. “He read (the book) through and through. It was so impressive to work with him. He was so dedicated to filling out the character as much as he could.” Pitt plays the adult Jack Black in the film.

Production on the film started Monday in Tacoma.

“Tacoma came in to the picture because we were looking for 19th Century architecture,” Mudede said.

Filming will move to Port Angeles, the International District in Seattle and to Snohomish after it wraps in Tacoma. Mudede calls it a regional film and said production in Washington would not have been possible without the state’s film incentive program.

“We could not have done it without that,” Mudede said.

Pitt played James “Jimmy” Darmody on “Boardwalk Empire” – a critically acclaimed series set in Prohibition era Atlantic City. (Spoiler Alert!) His character was killed off by Steve Buscemi’s character in the most recent season’s finale. Pitt has also appeared in “Funny Games,” “Last Days” (about Kurt Cobain), “The Dreamers” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

Marks has had many television roles including recurring ones on USA’s “Necessary Roughness” and Showtime’s “Weeds.” She was in the Justin Long and Jonah Hill comedy “Accepted.”

The production company for “You Can’t Win,” Parts & Labor, has produced the films “Old Joy,” “Cold Weather” (filmed in Portland and shown two years ago at the Tacoma Film Festival) and “Beginners” which earned star Christopher Plummer an Oscar this year.

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. vincati says:

    Hobo? Who says hobo anymore, although, admittedly, it’s kind of a cool word.

  2. navguy says:

    Plenty of extras available in the area. Period clothing etc.

  3. Kevindot1 says:

    Cool! One last film before McMenamins takes it over (hopeful thinking).

  4. ha_tamale says:

    Geez, Trib–this article could have used a spoiler alert. I haven’t finished Season 2 of “Boardwalk Empire;” now I guess I don’t have to. Lame.

  5. dlockner says:

    Since the planning and logistics of the shooting schedule require at least a year to develop and the film incentive program was only just approved, how does that square with the comment about the filming being impossible without it?

  6. TacomaDad79 says:

    @Ha_tamale Yup, I thought the same thing when I read that paragraph! Ouch! I am only like 2 episodes away too.

  7. Craig Sailor says:

    OK, folks. I added a spoiler alert. But, you know, the season ended five months ago. That’s more than enough time to catch up. The information is crucial to the story because it explains how Pitt can take the time to shoot a movie when production for “BE” is ongoing.

  8. troger888 says:

    Well this takes place in 1926 and back then they called homeless people Hobos. and I think that most people here know where the word hobo comes from. Gee i wonder how much this greedy city is charging the Hollywood production Co. to film here. This local Gov. is about to charge us just to breath air.

  9. TacomaFan1 says:

    Kudos to The Grand Cinema for bringing this and many other film producers to Tacoma!

  10. surveyor1 says:

    ha_tamale – I don’t think it’s fair to call the writer out for not providing you with a spoiler alert. He is right. The season ended 5 months ago so more than enough time has elapsed no to warrant an alert.

  11. OldTimerDickB says:

    Kudos to the production company for also using filming sites in Point Defiance Park like Ft. Nisqually and Camp6 before leaving town next week. Better than those “north-of-the-boarder” shots and this area can use the income, even if it is short-lived.

  12. OldTimerDickB says:

    re: dlockner… If our state had not re-instated the incentive program this would have gone north of the border as have many other productions have over the last several years after our state killed the program. Along with the money. Let’s be happy a change has been made. I know the production crew is glad they did not need to trek north as I have talked with them.

    And yes I know i misspelled border in my prior post… “Oldhimers” is my excuse.

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