YARMOUTH, N.S. – Glenn Bourque’s Spidey senses were tingling.
The Yarmouth resident was heading into Yarmouth Superstore to go shopping when he saw Willem Dafoe entering as well. Dafoe is in Yarmouth as part of the filming of the movie ‘The Lighthouse.’ Actor Robert Pattinson is also in town. Both actors have been spotted in many local businesses.
“I went in the store and looked for a few items. As I left the store he was behind me. As he exited I said, ‘Good day Mr. Dafoe, would it possible to get a picture with you?’ He said sure,” says Bourque. “I asked him how he liked Yarmouth and he said it was nice from what he saw, but he is busy filming so he spends most of his time on set.”
Bourque is a big Spider-Man fan and Dafoe played Normal Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin, in the 2002 film. On the off chance that he saw Dafoe while he was in Yarmouth, Bourque had his Spider-Man Blu-ray trilogy movie set in his car.
“I said I was a huge Spidey fan and asked if would sign my set. He said no problem,” says Bourque. “He was down to earth. He was very polite.”
There has been a lot of interest in the movie production project underway in Yarmouth, that is seeing filming take place on the Leif Ericson Trail at the Cape Forchu lighthouse property and at the Yarmouth airport, where a large hanger is being used.
Access to the Cape Forchu site is restricted to the public given the filming underway and the amount of equipment and vehicle traffic associated with the work. People have been able to catch glimpses of the Cape Forchu activity on the public Nova Scotia webcam on site. In fact, traffic to the webcam images has quadrupled since word about the project became public.
The project is also creating a big economic boon for the area, with film location manager Shaun Clarke telling the Tri-County Vanguard early on in the process that directly or indirectly, almost every business in town would be receiving a slice of the economic pie. He noted there would also be in upwards of 1,000 room nights for those involved in the production.
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LOVING THE LIGHTHOUSE
One aspect of the movie that people in Yarmouth County have fallen in love with is the lighthouse constructed for the film.
People have been posting photos of it on social media – first when there was still public access at the Cape Forchu property, and since then from vantage points across the harbour.
In fact, people love the lighthouse so much they’d love to see it stick around for a while after the filming wraps up for the opportunity to see it up close.
But that won’t be happening.
The contract the production film company signed with the Municipality of Yarmouth is to return the property to its original state once the film production is completed. After things have been turned back to normal, public access to the Cape Forchu property will be re-opened.
Still, even the warden of the Municipality of Yarmouth says they wouldn’t mind seeing the new lighthouse hang around for a bit, but he says the municipality has been told that’s not in the cards.
Warden Leland Anthony says he’s had a lot of people say to him that they wish the lighthouse could stay. He says in speaking with the film’s location manager it was told to him that the scaffolding used to construct the lighthouse is needed elsewhere.
And although it wasn’t discussed, the film company has also been very wary of doing what it can to protect the allure of the eventual movie.
The lighthouse is not a permanent structure. It is a tower of scaffolding. In March, East Coast Scaffolding had described the process of constructing the lighthouse to the Vanguard, saying a skeleton of scaffolding was used constructed for the lighthouse. The main skeleton took three weeks to design. It incorporated 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 weighs over 95,000 lbs. The scaffolding is 44 feet high with another 18-20 feet added for the lantern. Covered with plywood, the structure was wrapped in a thin sheet that resembles brick facing and to make it look like an original lighthouse from the early 20th century.
Anthony said he also asked about the possibility of temporarily keeping some of the other set buildings but was told that won’t happen either.
“When they put the buildings up it did not have to meet any building code requirements. They’re not even fastened securely to the ground,” he said. “They’re not interested for the municipality to even entertain any type of suggestion.”
Anthony said he had asked the municipality’s building inspector about whether there was any possibility of reinforcing the buildings to make them more sturdy (while still not allowing the public inside) but the cost would have been quite high as it would have required foundations and footings, he says.
Anthony says the municipality has been told that after filming has finished the movie scenes will be reviewed to determine if any scenes have to be re-shot at the Cape Forchu property.
He says he’s been told if none of the scenes have to be re-shot the process of dismantling the set and removing equipment will get underway.
A date of May 11 has been indicated on road barricades as to when all of the work at the property will be wrapped up.
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It’s not unheard of for a movie prop to stick around after a movie’s filming draws to a close.
It happened in Shelburne after the filming of The Scarlet Letter wrapped up in 1994, featuring Demi Moore and Robert Duvall.
In Shelburne a building that was part of the film, called the Guild Hall, stuck around for a long time, even becoming home to the farmers’ market in the summer. It was also used as a meeting place and concert venue in the town.
Although it lingered as a beloved structure in Shelburne, in 2015 a tender was put out by the town for the building’s demolition since, in reality, this was only a movie prop and was never designed to withstand the test of time. The building was in disrepair and fixing it would be costly.
The town opted to instead to tear down the structure and build a new guild hall with the same feeling of the movie set prop.
The new Guild Hall opened last year and is once again an important part of the town’s infrastructure, playing hosts to many community events since opening last year.
Meanwhile, while there won’t be any sign of the movie lighthouse on the Cape Forchu property when the movie comes. Warden Anthony says they hope to have an interpretive panel on site with photos from the filming so that people are aware it occurred.
He says they’ve been told they will be supplied with photos, but not for at least another year, as the release would coincide with when the movie is eventually ready for release.
One thing Anthony did say has been shared with him is the great hospitality Yarmouth has extended to those involved with this film project.
“They’ve said the hospitality has been exceptional,” he says.