SALEM — Movies may or may not be interesting to watch, but watching movies being made is almost always dull.
That has been the experience of Ellen Talkowsky, who, as the main contact for the Salem Film Office, spent several days on the set of Rob Zombie's "Lords of Salem" when it filmed here last year.
"It's not as glamorous as you might think," Talkowsky said. "You see the same things many different times."
Not that Talkowsky, or anyone associated with the newly formed film office, wasn't delighted to have Zombie make his movie here.
In fact, they launched a website four months ago to attract as many productions to the city as possible.
The website is linked to both the city's and Destination Salem's websites and is one of nine regional film offices listed at the Massachusetts Film Office's website.
It lists places to shoot, along with films and shows that have been made in Salem since 1970, along with information on permitting.
As special projects coordinator for the city, Talkowsky was working on films in Salem before there was a film office. But formalizing her role as the main contact, and advertising that fact on the website, gives productions one place to go for everything they need.
Kate Fox, executive director of Destination Salem, the city's tourism agency, said Salem's film office is also a useful contact point for local businesses.
"Celebrity is the smallest piece" of having a movie in town, said Fox, who stressed the "extended benefit" to businesses from film production.
Zombie, for instance, rented tables in the making of his movie, and his crew of 20 to 30 people ate at a number of local restaurants.
Ellen Strout, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office, visited Salem a month ago to give what she called a "Film 101" presentation to local businesses.
"It's a unique industry in the way they spend money," said Strout, who was formerly head of the state film office in New Mexico. "It is mobile, so all of a sudden you have this large project in your town that needs hotels and lumber yards, dry cleaners, to rent cars."
Strout said Massachusetts is just beginning to reach its potential as a filmmaking destination and thinks regional film offices have an important role to play in that growth.
"The state office promotes every corner of the state, but when there is an interest in Salem, to have someone on the ground is incredibly helpful for landing that project," she said.
"It drills down to the logistics. This is where it's wonderful to have the Salem office, for the day-to-day of prepping and shooting. Having that kind of assistance means a lot to the company."
Maintaining a relationship with the state's film office also helps the city market local opportunities as they arise, Fox said.
For instance, she thinks the newly empty courthouse on Washington Street could make an excellent film set.
"We're told the film industry is always looking for large indoor spaces," Fox said.
FILMED IN SALEM
A sampling of movies and TV shows filmed in the Witch City:
"Bewitched," TV show starring Elizabeth Montgomery, 1970
"The Europeans," Academy Award-nominated movie of the Henry James novel, starring Lee Remick, 1978
"Three Sovereigns for Sarah," PBS drama starring Vanessa Redgrave, 1985
"Hocus Pocus," Halloween comedy movie starring Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker, 1993
The Travel Channel, "Places of Mystery: Witch City," 2000; "Ghost Adventures," 2010
"Bride Wars," romantic comedy starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson, 2008
"What Not to Wear," episode of TLC TV show, 2009
"Lords of Salem," Rob Zombie movie, 2011 (scheduled for release in 2012)