The momentum has been building and now it's official on Deadline.com!
We shot the entire day (so muggy, so hot!) in S. Thomaston for scenes involving James Sr. and Donna's house. Welcoming Steven Ogg (Walking Dead and Westworld) and Sarah Clarke (24) as Jamie's parents, the day involved a lot of preparation at a local couple's home. The Art Dept. had to transform the kitchen into a '90s house with a rotary phone. I chatted with Sarah in make up about Maine and how she and her husband Xander Berkeley (who plays Grampa Maynard) moved from L.A. to Maine.
For the bait shack scene where James Sr. is on the phone with Anja, we couldn't have a more authentic location.
Below, I just want to show you how much goes into the props of a scene. Prop Master Maisie May (as we like to call her, like the name of Thonchai's boat) put together the entire lobster supper scene (from my memory) and script. Behold the already cooked lobsters, the not cooked corn. The salad. The beers. (Thank you to Allagash Brewery and Harpoon for clearance!)
And here's the scene from afar.
Yesterday on set was supposed to be our "quiet day" after a long intense week. It started off well. Becca, our Unit Production Manager and our craft services QUEEN allowed her Toyota Camry to be used in the scene where Jamie teaches Anja how to relearn how to drive again.
The Toyota had to be started, gunned, reversed, gunned, stopped, and lurched.
The poor thing was an '06 and didn't like all its rough treatment so decided to have a tantrum once Becca brought it down the road to Lincoln Country Store. Then, it died. We tried to revive it with dry gas and jump the cables to no avail. Meanwhile, it's now 6 p.m. a lightning storm has cruised into the area, clearing the entire crew out from the open front yard where we'd been camping out while the actors filmed.
Oh...and Becca is responsible for getting the crew dinner on time at precisely 7 p.m. Plan A for the evening was to grill out hotdogs and hamburgers, but now, under the pouring rain, that was out of the question. Plan B? Order 28 portions of take out to be delivered in exactly one hour. This is Maine, remember. NOT HAPPENING.
Plan C: I told Becca "We're gonna get a Ploughman's Lunch at Hannaford--meats, crusty baguettes, crackers, assortment of cheeses, fruits, nuts, pickles, hummus, salads, sushi. Everybody can have as much or as little as they want. We've got 20 minutes to fly to Hannaford, 20 minutes to shop, and 20 minutes to fly back."
So, we did. We ran through that store like we were on Supermarket Sweep.
At one point I was frantically checking where the rotisserie chickens were, only to be told, "our chicken oven has been down for a few weeks." So here we were running around the store like we were the chickens with our heads cut off. Thank you to Eli and Alber for bagging up our groceries in record time!
It's pouring like a mother on our way back--I hydroplaned--and told Becca "OK I gotta slow down; I'm not going to get into a wreck over food." We dropped into the base camp just as the rain abated and began to lay out platters of the Ploughman's Lunch.
But we got dinner on the table at exactly 7:20 p.m. The grill came out, so there were hamburgers and hotdogs after all. And a lot of people said, "This is one of the best dinners we've had so far."
I don't know what it is with cars dying on this set right when we need to use them, but after our first full week of filming, we are ready for THE WEEKEND!
It takes a lot of talented people to recreate what was in my head. Salli Levi, our set designer, recreated a Midcoast house into the home of Jamie Eugley--a ninth generation lobsterman, who inherited his grandfather's house on the ocean.
"They drove silently back home to Porter's Cove, to a crabby-looking Cape on the ocean's edge with cedar shingles weathered to the color of beef jerky."
"Jamie set leftover pizza on the counter and picked up the wall phone in the kitchen."
In the center of the living room stood a flagstone fireplace so inefficient, it barely heated the the room in the winter. Next to it, Jamie installed a small Vermont castings woodstove."
"At one time, they shared the master bedroom, which faced the sea, but then she drowned. And came back to life. And then it became necessary to set Anja up in the spare room, where she'd be up at all hours, like a kitten skittering Across the floor, batting curios off the dresser, keeping him awake all night."
I absolutely love the detail Salli put into this room. From the silver-framed photo of Jamie and Anja by her bed to the flashcards (so she can practice her math skills) to the childlike posters and inspirational quotes that inspire her to keep reaching toward her brain-injury recovery goals.
Note the Mad Libs (for vocan skills and the 1970s tape recorder.
These are the details that blew me away when I walked in and saw them. Anja's easel set up in the living room, her paintings, and the spent tube of red paint that factors into a major fight in the book/movie.
This is the ideal living room I've always pictured in the book. "The house had its own personality. It liked being dusty, blackened, and old. She settled on the plaid hunter's couch facing the TV with an irritated glance at the dingy things they had: bachelor furniture, a floral La-Z-Boy, a wooden chicken coop for a coffee table, a TV, and a telescope."
Let me just say Day 1 and Day 2 were no cakewalk. We threw the actors and crew into a hornet's nest with lobster boat logistics, a yacht, shuffling working boats on the docks etc. So Day 3 should have been easy, right? Not for Greer, playing Anja. It's not enough we've forced her to handle pogies and live lobsters, made her wear smelly bait lobster gear, but today she had to jump into the cold Maine ocean and pretend to drown.
Greer won the "Trouper of the Day Award" not only for this scene, but later in the day, she had to deliver a wrenching scene, crying under a tree surrounded by crew and random people walking by wondering why this poor woman in a business suit was crying under a tree.
Oh, and if that weren't enough, the truck we rented for Jamie's ride had the bad taste to die the day before an entire day of shooting scenes ...in Jamie's truck. One of the producers thought the truck got either stolen or towed (we eventually figured out its whereabouts). Co-producer Ryan Post ended up saving the day by contacting J.K. Kalloch for a new truck AND getting it towed to be on set the next day. The power of Mainers making it HAPPEN! We have been so fortunate so far on this shoot to have the support and access from Maine locals--including lobster boats, houses, restaurants, businesses, vehicles, donated clothing, gear, and props.
We finished a long day with a sweet flashback scene featuring Jamie and Anja on the Rockland Breakwater. This is a short scene written by James Khanlarian. I am so fortunate as the author and screenwriter to have been solicited so closely for my feedback to the script. That doesn't happen in every shoot. It's just a testament to how cool this crew is.
Each day has been around 12, sometimes 14 hours--it is crazy how much time it takes to shoot certain scenes. We've got some long, productive days in front of us. If you haven't already "liked" our Facebook page, please do so now for more videos and photos as the shoot progresses. Stay tuned.
"How does it feel?" This is the question I get all of the time these days. How does it feel to go from being an author of a fairly small regional novel long past its publishing date, to being a screenwriter adapting that novel, to being an executive producer on the film....to the first day of shooting?
After four years of plotting, planning, searching for the perfect cast, financing, then location scouting, getting access to the lobstering community, finding crew to come up to Midcoast Maine, and a million other little details, we started shooting the first scene at 8:30 a.m. on August 18, 2022.
We're still casting Maine extras.
To see the characters that have lived in my head well over 20 years be embodied by these amazing actors is beyond what I ever imagined. My head is spinning and I can't sleep. Our first day on set was 12 hours and started with a sputtery, rainy morning--after nearly two-and-a-half months of dry, hot weather. Of course! But as my buddy Dan, a lobsterman said, "It's good that it's greasy--this is what it's really like to go out to haul. Not every morning is picture perfect." So, with Greer and Zak on Dan's boat, we laid out the initial scenes where Jamie goes out to haul with Anja. (Note: I had to build in an entire new opening scene to the script that wasn't in the book as film-making demands a faster pace than world-building in novels.)
It was my first time on a film set and I got to see the crew (from the costume designer, to the AD, gaffers, sound, key grip, props, etc) work their magic. So much prep goes into setting up shots and we have to do the same scene from multiple angles. So one scene can take three hours. Like Greer said, "It's hurry up and wait" in this business. But Greer and Zak nailed it. It's so interesting to see accomplished actors do their thing when they've got 25 people all hushed standing around them as they interact naturally with their lines.
We took a break in the afternoon and resumed at a different dock where Dan and Ryan rafted up so we could shoot some more offshore scenes. Anteres (Dan's boat) is Jamie's boat while Tall Tails (Ryan's boat) serves as the camera boat.
Dan is gnawing on a piece of chicken thigh he cooked all night long in the oven by mistake. (He said it was still really good.) Kurt, standing next to him, has only agreed to be in the movie because there was a craft table. He is now going to be the sternman (The Kid) for Thongchai. Basically, it's Kurt's boat, so he'll pretend to be navigating it during the scene where Thongchai confronts the yachties. Kurt didn't think he'd be saying any lines, but as mentioned, he's motivated by the craft table. And it's not really hard to say in a Maine accent. "Jesus Christ, what are ya facking doing Jamie?"
The yacht is donated by Ryan Post's friend, Doug. I'll tell you--if it were not for Ryan, Cheri, and Dan, we would not have the access into this community, the boats, the docks, etc. They are the reason this film will have authenticity. Pictured here is Michael playing annoying Florida yachtie "Cooper." Yeah, I think the costume dept. nailed this look, don't you?
And if that wasn't cool enough, this beautiful boy, a horsehead seal whom the crew named Gregory Chonkers Whiskerton, kept hanging around, watching us. He got a few pogies out of it. And if you follow me on TikTok, you'll see a video where he came right up to Jamie Steeves, owner of J & J lobster and fed right from his hand.
If you want to see more photos of the film shoot, follow us on Facebook and stay tuned!
News, musings, and events from a Maine coast writer. Stay Salty!