There’s another movie shooting in the capital region this week, but blink and you could miss it, rolling as it is in the shadow of Gracepoint.
While producer Lindsay Moffat couldn’t hire as many local crew for Lighthouse as he would have liked since most are working on the 10-episode Fox series, it’s all good, he says.
“We would have hired more if they were available,” said Moffat (Christmas in Canaan), who developed the thriller’s story with executive producer Angela Mancuso of Los Angeles-based Vesuvius Films.
“What crew there is here is all working, and that’s great for the city. It’s never been busier in the province.”
Indeed, there were dozens of productions shooting in B.C. a month ago, a resurgence in activity industry observers say is attributable in part to the lower loonie.
Directed by Vanessa Parise, the film’s premise was seemingly inspired in part by pop star Miley Cyrus’s sexy Wrecking Ball music video that brought the word “twerking” into the modern vocabulary.
“It’s influenced by the idea of what young music stars go through from puberty to womanhood,” says Moffat, whose film stars Chelsea Kane as a “celebutante” trying to shake her squeaky-clean image by doing a sexualized music video that puts her in conflict with her family. After going off the rails, she drives up the coast of Maine to spend some time writing new songs.
En route to her idyllic retreat, she has a car accident and wakes up in a lightkeeper’s house with Xavier (Nolan Gerard Funk), a handsome stranger who is a much bigger fan than she realized.
“It’s Misery in a lighthouse,” said Moffat, who lived here for years and studied at University of Victoria — a benefit he admits influenced his decision to shoot here.
Crews have been filming under the radar at Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, built in 1860 on the shores of Juan de Fuca Strait, since Monday, said Moffat.
They will wrap after shooting New York street scenes downtown today, and apartment interiors. Filming is also taking place in Britannia, Langley and downtown Vancouver.
“This is head-and-shoulders above anything we looked at on the Mainland,” said Moffat, tipping his hat to National Historic Sites of Canada and local staff for facilitating the lighthouse shoot.
The cast of the youth-oriented thriller destined to air on A&E is nothing if not photogenic.
Kane, the Phoenix, Ariz.-raised musician and actor, is best known for her starring role in Bratz, the 2007 toys-inspired movie, and on Dancing With the Stars.
Funk, the new celebrity face for Versace, starred as Conrad Birdie in the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie, but is best known for his starring roles in the Nickelodeon movie Spectacular!; as bad boy Collin in Awkward, as warbler captain Hunter in Glee and as Jennifer Lawrence’s love interest in House at the End of the Street.
“Nolan’s also into modelling and is very popular,” Moffat said.
“And he looks great with his shirt off. The girls love him.”
Lighthouse is a very “performance-driven” piece, the producer said, adding the film unit’s presence downtown will be low-key.
“We travel fairly light. We’re leaving our trucks [in Colwood], so we won’t be rolling in like a big feature. Our footprint will be fairly small.”
While it was the locations that lured the producers, the recent implementation of the six per cent distant-location tax incentive for producers shooting in the capital region is a plus, he said.
“It certainly helps on a movie like this. I also find Victoria very film-friendly,” Moffat said. “I think I’m one of the first [producers] able to take advantage of it.”
This isn’t the first time cameras have rolled here on a movie called Lighthouse. Longtime industry-watchers still haven’t forgotten its infamous 1988 predecessor.
Indeed, times and conditions have changed for the better since producers of the supernatural thriller Lighthouse were all but tarred and feathered after prematurely halting production.
A cash flow crisis that triggered the shutdown of the Vancouver-based Erin Features Ltd. production starring Deborah Wakeham and Ryan Michael made front-page news. There were tales of woe from creditors left in the lurch, including unpaid Sooke merchants and furious crews without wages. Insiders claimed Sheringham Point had become a burned location as a result of the debacle.
“It got to be quite nasty. It was not a fun time,” its production manager Shirley Gill said in a front page story headlined “Creditors hot over filming halt.”
The production industry “was in its infancy back then,” noted Moffat, who joins producers such as Ted Bauman who have since braved production of lighthouse movies in these parts.
While Tom Berenger was billed as the star of Watchtower, the 2002 psychological thriller directed by George Mihalka in locations including Cowichan Bay, East Sooke Park and B.C. Ferries vessels, Bauman maintained his film’s real star was that historic red-and-white lighthouse.
Fisgard Lighthouse has also since been featured in a Jeep Cherokee commercial, the television series Spooksville, the comedy Old Hats and an episode of the former NBC series Sleepwalkers.