Little did I know while writing about the new Boston Strangler movie on Hulu that one of the brains behind the operation was from right here on the SouthCoast.

Fairhaven's Janelle Canastra has worked on over 20 movies and her latest credit is as co-producer on the set of Boston Strangler. 

Shamefully, I've been friends with her for many years and was shocked to find I knew almost nothing about her ... until now. I had the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss her career:

Get our free mobile app

What is Boston Strangler About?

It’s about the two female reporters who helped discover the Boston Strangler. It was two female journalists, which was kind of unheard of heard of in the 1960s. So Kiera Knightley is one of the journalists and Carrie Coons plays the other. It's not so much about the Boston Strangler, rather more about the reporters.

Who was the Boston Strangler?

You'll have to watch the movie to find out.

What was your role in this movie?

I was a co-producer on the film, which means I sort of just helped manage it and kept it on track. It's a lot more than that, but that's the basics.

When did the project initially kick off?

When did the project start? That's a great question. I'm pretty sure it kicked off in September of 2021, and I finished around February/March 2022.

Where was the movie filmed?

"We filmed throughout Boston. We shot a bit on a stage in Devens, Mass. New England Studios is there, so we shot there, but we tried to keep it pretty local. We shot in Braintree and in a bunch of places around the Boston area."

Courtesy Janelle Canastra
Courtesy Janelle Canastra

Who were some of the people you worked with?

I worked with a lot of people. Where do I begin? There's the director, Matt Ruskin. He's a great director. The people at 20th Century, producers from Scott Free Productions, Keira Knightley's in it, Carrie Coons, Chris Cooper and so many more.

What other projects have you worked on?

I've done about 25 movies. I started in Los Angeles and traveled across the country. I was a coordinator and sort of just worked my way up. I started 10 years ago and my first movie was Earth to Echo. I also did I Feel Pretty, Mother's Day and Jungleland to name a few.

Courtesy Janelle Canastra
Courtesy Janelle Canastra

I was actually torn between Jungleland and 21 Bridges, which was Chadwick Boseman’s last movie, so I sort of regret not doing that one, but I would have never met the people who I did Jungleland with and since I stayed with them, I've done a bunch more films with the company like Our Friend with Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel, which we did in Alabama, then Boston Strangler, and I'm also doing my next film with them as well."

What's your background?

"I went to Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School for media, and then I went to college for Communications Media at Fitchburg State, USC, UCLA, and also UMass Lowell, originally for piano. Eventually, I got my internship at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, not the theme park, and worked for them, which is then how I got hired on Earth to Echo (which was originally a Disney movie).

I worked a little bit with ABC News for Nightline in New York City. After I left, I went back to working on movies. I did The Last Summer for Netflix, and then I did a movie called Clemency, which was a really small one, but it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Lastly, I also did I Care A Lot in Boston, which was great."

Would you ever want to be in front of the camera?

"No. Absolutely not. No way. I hate it. My students always say how awkward I am. I won't even be in their projects. If they just need a teacher for two seconds, I won't be in their projects."

So, when you're not on the movie set, you're a teacher?

Yes, at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in Easton and I love it. The school is amazing and I was able to have a bunch of kids join me to work on the set of Boston Strangler. They were all paid as (production assistants) and instead of going to school they came in and worked on the movie. We had a couple of seniors work on the film who currently still work in the industry, which is amazing, and a couple of my co-teachers were also extras in the film which was also very cool.

Courtesy Janelle Canastra
A student at Southeastern Regional Vocational High School working alongside Janelle Canastra on the set of Boston Strangler.

What was the reward for all your hard work on this film?

First, that we finished, because it was a tough one (with weather) and shooting during COVID was really hard. Secondly, I was excited that we had students on it and that I got to show them that you can live in Massachusetts and work on movies. I'm doing great making movies and I like showing them that it’s a possibility, so going to work and seeing my students on set was really cool.

Courtesy Janelle Canastra
Courtesy Janelle Canastra

What’s the next step?

I’m doing another film with Scott Free Productions (founded by Ridley Scott). They’ve done a ton of movies, including Boston Strangler and Manchester By The Sea. I’d love to stick with them. It's been great working alongside them.

20 Times Hollywood Came to the SouthCoast

From Ben Afleck to Jennifer Lawrence, a string of A-Listers have made their way to the SouthCoast to film movies, shows, and even music videos.

SouthCoast Restaurants Celebrities Have Visited

Stars live in and visit the SouthCoast frequently, which means many of them end up at local restaurants. Here are appearances from some favorites.

20 Celebrities Who Love the New England Patriots As Much As You

Patriots Nation is strong with or without Tom Brady and these celebrities count themselves among the those who love New England's football team.

More From WFHN-FM/FUN 107