Alison Weir has quite a story to tell at her next dinner party — it’s about that time Hollywood actors Morris Chestnut and Diarra Kilpatrick spent a week at her home.
Weir’s home in Orange’ Seven Oaks neighborhood was selected as one of the film locations in Kilpatrick’s new eight-episode BET+ series, Diarra from Detroit, which premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival this month.
“I loved every minute because they paid me good money,” Weir said.
For a week in February — the film was shot long before the ongoing writers’ strike — her entire house was at the producer’s disposal, including her 21-year-old son Ted’s room, which was converted into a green room for the actors. The location scouts were especially interested in her three-car garage, which was turned into a tiki bar for one of the scenes. When it was all finished, they even repainted the garage the color of her choice.
“It also forced me to weed out some of the junk in my garage,” Weir joked.
Scouts sent letters out in February to homeowners in Weir’s neighborhood before her home on Sterling Avenue was chosen, according to Justin Schwebel, one of the crew members on the film. “The director and production designer thought it was the best fit for this scene,” Schwebel said.
The movie, described as a dark comedy about a Tinder date gone wrong that morphs into a amateur detective story, was also filmed in Secaucus, Totowa, and Little Falls.
“It’s great to work with a town that’s welcoming to film production and knows what to expect,” Schwebel said. “We definitely consider going back to places where we’ve had a good experience.”
Film shoots have become increasingly common in New Jersey since Governor Phil Murphy extended a tax credit for movie productions in 2021. With new studios underway in places like Newark and Bayonne — and another in the works in West Orange — celebrity sightings could become regular occurrences.
That’s good news as money often trickles down to local businesses. At the wrapup party for Gabrielle Union-Wade’s Netflix movie The Perfect Find, Adenah Bayoh’s Cornbread restaurant — which has locations in Newark and Maplewood — catered the wrapup party. Furniture from the Diarra from Detroit production was bought and then redonated to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore second-hand shop, which opened last year in Fairfield.
“We do cold call movies companies, but a lot of times the productions already know who we are,” said Carlos Carvajal, the store manager, who said he has a relationship with 10 production companies in the area. “We ask them if they’ll redonate the furniture when they’re done and they usually do.”
To attend the June 14 premiere of Diarra from Detroit at Manhattan’s SVA Theater, visit the Tribeca Film Festival website.