YARMOUTH - A co-owner of East Coast Scaffolding remembers how he felt when approached to build a skeleton scaffold for The Lighthouse thriller being filmed at the Leif Ericson trail outside Yarmouth. The film stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
“I was extremely excited,” said Dean Pearce, who owns the company with his father Vince.
“This is exactly the type of scaffolding we enjoy and love to do.”
The skeleton they built will be used as the lighthouse once construction is complete. Covered with plywood, the structure will then be wrapped in a thin sheet that resembles brick facing.
The scaffolding is 44 feet high but there will be another 18-20 feet added for the lantern, which is being made in Halifax and is “quite beautiful,” said Pearce.
The founders of East Coast Scaffolding emigrated to Canada from the U.K. eight years ago with 35 years’ experience in the scaffolding business.
Dean Pearce says it was a challenge to figure out how to construct the 44-foot tower’s bottom section in the rough weather conditions at Cape Forchu, including fierce winds, bitterly cold temperatures, sleet and snow.
The main skeleton took three weeks to design. It incorporates three-foot-deep resin rock anchors brought in from Toronto and over 48,000 lbs. of weights for stability.
It is eight-sided and tapers from 18 feet. at the base to 14 feet at the top with a cantilevered top platform.
The whole structure will weigh over 95,000 lbs. when complete and look like an original lighthouse from the early 20th century.
East Coast Scaffolding worked closely with Sani Engineering from Halifax for verification of their design. Despite the horrendous weather, the project was completed on time and on budget by a three-man team.
“It’s a project that stretched our expertise to the limit, certainly something we’d never done or seen before,” said Pearce.
“I think it will serve its purpose very well.”
He says it is one of the most unique scaffolds ever undertaken in the world, given its location and the forces placed on the frame from Mother Nature.
The business will be recovering all of its equipment to use on somebody’s house the week after filming is done.
The job brought in tens of thousands of dollars for the owners. Pearce says it cost the film company about half the price it might have from other companies.
“We’ve been able to keep costs very low. Hopefully we can do something else for them in the future as well.”
East Coast Scaffolding plans on expanding the company this year.
The curator of the Yarmouth County Museum says she was approached by representatives of the film who proposed renting the Fresnel lens that’s on exhibit for the film.
The lens was installed in the Cape Forchu lighthouse in 1908. It was built in Paris and cost $38,000 at that time. It weighs about 3,300 pounds.
“Thankfully, the board of directors voted no to this,” said Nadine Gates. “So I guess you could say we were ‘almost famous.’”