Why Haverhill?

So, why Haverhill? We get this question a lot.

Boston tends to dominate the film scene—or every scene that is—as a big ole city tends to do in a small state. We love the idea of hosting a film festival in a blue-collar city of 61,000 where most residents don’t have access to independent films as easily as a Bostonian would. It’s always rewarding every year to hear an attendee exclaim their excitement at the marvels on screen, bewildered at the experimentation of the artists’ moving images. 

But the root of our Haverhill beginnings runs deeper and stems back to 1999 when our father and stepmother relocated from St. Paul, Minnesota to the land of the Pats. 2001 was a significant year; we were only 12. Our stepmom Abbe traveled back out west to a wedding in Minnesota. Meanwhile, our dad, Richard, wanted to make a VHS movie called “While You Were Gone.” The idea: every time Abbe left the house, Richard turned us into his house servants/slaves/dogs/whathaveyou and wreaked havoc, ordering us around, having us tend to his book collection and feed him chocolate ice cream. It was so much fun Brendan and I decided to make a movie every summer we visited after that.

Six movies down. Six dumb, silly movies made by identical twins with about 15 characters and ridiculous wardrobe changes and never-ending fun. We still have the VHS tapes. We still have those DVDs. The birth of our film career happened in Haverhill, in the backyard of that house, where we hobbled around like beasts in costumes holding half-assed scribbled scripts- completely invisible to the neighbors’ stares and judgments. HFF just keeps building on those memories, and hopefully we can continue to have our yearly-film-fun in Haverhill, Massachusetts for a long time to come.

Jeremy SmythComment