By KIM SMITH DEDAM
---- — TUPPER LAKE — Big Tupper is finding a few screen moments of fame.
Crews from Paramount Pictures Corp. are filming scenes for an upcoming movie at the closed ski center.
The set is being built and shot against the snowy slopes and in the ski lodge parking lot this week and next.
Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun said the movie crews came to scout the area and get set up earlier in March.
But filming started today and will continue at full speed this week, staging action that involves stunt cars and drivers.
“They are going to film part of the movie here then more in New York City.
“I can tell you it’s about ninjas,” Maroun said.
The ninja movie currently in production by Paramount is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film drawing from the popular cartoon series story line and live-action movie released in 1990.
Paramount Senior Vice President of Publicity Jessica Rovins in Los Angeles would not confirm the title of the movie being filmed in Tupper Lake. She also would say nothing about the choice of location nor give details about scenes being filmed here.
Reached by cellphone, the movie’s location manager for snow, Stuart Nicolai, also remained mum about the film’s production, referring any questions to Rovins.
But he is finding willing help here.
“I can tell you, I enjoy the Adirondacks very much,” Nicolai said.
The site scouting crew of about 10 grew to nearly 100 people as the mountain set was readied for filming, according to the mayor.
Security at the mountain is tight, reserving film shots for only the movie makers.
“Paramount needed a closed-down ski resort, and that is working perfectly in the hands of Big Tupper,” Maroun said.
“They are filming action scenes: two in the parking lot and one on the mountain. Their people (Paramount) will be here filming through the end of March.”
The mayor said movie crews rented several houses in Tupper Lake, with other staff staying at Best Western in Saranac Lake.
And the movie company contracted locally for catering on what appears to be a very active set.
“I know they’re spending money, and there’s a lot of activity up and down that road to the Ski Center,” Maroun said.
“The Fire Department brought water to them — they have to keep their cars clean for the filming, so we filled up their tanker.
“And I know they’ve been making scenery, cutouts and props. The special-effects people had a pizza party the other night for about 40 people at one of their houses in Tupper.”
ARISE (Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving our Economy) and Preserve Associates, resort developers who own Big Tupper Ski Center, were instrumental in securing the location for Paramount.
“The community of Tupper Lake is thrilled that Paramount chose Big Tupper for this segment of filming,” ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley said via email Monday.
“From a local perspective, the impact from the production has been well received, with the crew eating at various restaurants, having their meals catered by local eateries, staying at local motels and just visiting the businesses in the region.
“It was unfortunate that ARISE could not open the ski area due to financial difficulties (this season), but it ended up being a positive turn of events because Paramount needed a closed ski area.”
No public entry is allowed, LaValley said of the location.
“Vehicles visiting the area will be stopped by security, well away from the ski area entrance. The film being produced will not be released until spring of 2014. Tupper Lake village and town officials, ARISE and Preserve Associates were all instrumental in making the film happen (here).”
“Ninja Turtles,” the movie detailed on the Internet Movie Database, has a release date set for June 6, 2014.
It is being produced by Michael Bay, who made the blockbuster hit “Transformers.”
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, “Ninja Turtles” stars Megan Fox as the turtles’ young news reporter friend named April.
Actors for the four turtles are just now being selected.
Alan Ritchson was cast as Raphael, according to movie-industry news reports last week.
The movie’s stars aren’t on location in Tupper Lake, since scenes being filmed are for stunts, crashes and cliff dives.
Local business owner Don Dew said location access is for crew only, but stunt actors are here.
LaValley said the privacy relates to movie-industry propriety.
“Paramount would like to keep the story line under wraps and out of the public eye. As chairman of ARISE, I’m thrilled that they are having such a positive impact in the area at a time of year when things are very quiet,” he said Monday.
“This week, they will be filming a sequence that is an important part of the overall movie, and the crew has grown to 80 to 100 people. The site work will be finalized today for the filming. The crew will be here until mid-April to restore everything.”
Maroun says movie makers are a great addition to Tupper Lake, if even for just a month or so and somewhat under the public radar.
“They are very easy to work with,” he said.
Email Kim Smith Dedam: firstname.lastname@example.org