San Francisco may not seem much like Ernest Hemingway’s Havana or Key West, Fla., right now, but just wait until Hollywood works its magic. And you won’t have to wait long.
HBO Films has agreed to base the production of the new film “Hemingway & Gellhorn” in San Francisco, providing a welcome boost to the local film industry and injecting a little more star power around town, city officials said Wednesday.
The film, starring Clive Owen as Hemingway and Nicole Kidman as war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, examines the duo’s tumultuous romance and five-year marriage. Much of the film is set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, as well as depicting Shanghai, Havana and Key West. Shooting is expected to start in February.
None of the film is set in San Francisco, but director Philip Kaufman said the city’s historic buildings and varied topography make it ideal to shoot more intimate scenes depicting World War II-era locales, said Jennifer Matz from the mayor’s economic development office.
The deal is the culmination of a yearlong effort by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration to attract the production, city officials said. HBO plans to hire about 230 local employees, with the project expected to create about 800 total jobs, said Laurel Barsotti, permit coordinator for the city’s Film Commission. HBO is expected to spend more than $10 million locally.
The deal marks a major coup for the city’s film and television workers and Newsom’s efforts to attract such projects in the wake of his ouster of Stefanie Coyote as executive director of the Film Commission and NBC’s canceling the TV series “Trauma.”
“This proves that we’ve become a destination place to film for more things than just the Golden Gate Bridge or Transamerica Pyramid,” Barsotti said.