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Lighthouse filming project big economic boon for Yarmouth

Willem Dafoe when he appeared in the 2011 drama/thriller film The Hunter.
 Photo courtesy of Magnolia pictures official press kit
Willem Dafoe when he appeared in the 2011 drama/thriller film The Hunter. Photo courtesy of Magnolia pictures official press kit - Contributed

Yarmouth area to benefit from supplying about 1,000 room nights to film crew during stay

YARMOUTH - Indirectly, almost every business in town will be receiving a slice of the big pie provided by the thriller movie being filmed in Yarmouth County, says an industry executive.

Sets for The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, are well underway at Cape Forchu Lighthouse’s Leif Ericson trail and in a Yarmouth airport hangar.

Location manager Shaun Clarke says a few nor-easters have slowed the work down a bit, but other than that, things are going well.

“The sets look great,” he said.

“You know, one of the reasons we chose Cape Forchu to shoot was because of the wind and the rain and the fog. It’s what the script calls for, so this is a bit of ‘careful what you wish for,’” he laughed.

When asked what businesses they were working with locally, Clarke replied it would be easier to list the companies that they weren’t doing business with.

“Specifically, it’s hard to say but the grocery stores, every hotel/motel, B&B and private homes, we’re talking upwards of 1,000 room nights (total at end of filming) after the crew is all here.”

“With the exception of a few businesses, everybody is going to get a piece of the pie,” he said, including antique stores that are supplying period pieces for the set design, massage therapists and drug stores.

Robert Pattinson - Wikimedia Photo
Robert Pattinson - Wikimedia Photo

SIP Café has become one of the favourite cafés for the crew and there are several restaurants they frequent.

Clarke says the crew love the area.

“They say it’s a beautiful little town. The folks are so friendly and co-operative.”

He had nothing but praise for his dealings with the Municipality of Yarmouth.

“Council has been amazing. They’ve been incredibly co-operative, very helpful, including the warden and public works,” he said.

“Some of the things we’ve asked for have been a little out of the norm,” he said.

Take, for instance, the need to have the airplanes being stored in a large hangar at the airport moved to another location so a film set could be built there instead.

Clarke says the site at Cape Forchu is perfect for the film, which is set on a fictitious island in early 20th-century Maine.

Because it was totally impractical to shoot on an island, a peninsula was the goal and the director, Robert Eggers, was adamant he did not want any trees.

“He’s all about historical accuracy and making sure the film is beautifully shot,” said Clarke.

He says when he reached Cape Forchu during his search for the perfect spot, he forwarded photos back to New York and Los Angeles and the film executives’ curiosity was “really piqued.”

“It’s a combination of aesthetics and logistical needs,” he said.

“Aesthetically the way the rocks kind of boil out of the ocean is wonderful and logistically the parking lot and the paths are great for getting equipment in and out. The Town of Yarmouth is so close by with building supplies, hotels/bars/grocery stores, restaurants, everything that we could possibly need is within 10 minutes of that set.”

He says having a high-profile movie filmed in the area could attract more film companies.

“It’s almost like a proof of concept. Once one film company comes, obviously it can be done. For the right location, the inconvenience of being three hours from Halifax is surmountable.”

Clarke is taking many pictures of the area for his digital files and also has strong prospects for car commercial locations.

“Yarmouth Main Street has a great kind of general look, and all the beautiful old stone buildings and Victorian homes are great,” he said.

Although it’s really difficult to quantify, the subsidiary interest in Cape Forchu after this film is released is expected to be strong, he says.

He’s experienced similar interest for the Trailer Park Boys location in Bible Hill and the Sci-Fi network’s Haven, which was filmed in Lunenburg

At the conclusion of filming, the movie company will restore the property to the same state it was in before they arrived.

A fee being paid to the municipality is earmarked for improvements at the Leif Ericson trail.

Clarke says the film executives want to thank residents for their co-operation in letting the film company take over the Leif Ericson park for the time they’re there.

Closer to the actual filming dates, access to the site will become more limited. It should be open again around the middle of May.

Other movies directed by Robert Eggers

The Witch (2015) - A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. This film grossed $40 million worldwide.

The Tell-Tale Heart  (2008) - Within the chambers of a desolate house, a solitary servant tends to his invalid master.

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