YARMOUTH - Set construction for the feature film The Lighthouse is underway on the Leif Ericson trail at the Cape Forchu lighthouse.
Signs are posted at the path entry stating the trail will be closed from March 1 to May 11 to facilitate the construction and filming of temporary sets.
Some of the filming will also be taking place in a large hangar at the Yarmouth airport.
The movie is about a Nova Scotia lighthouse keeper in the early 20th century, starring actors Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.
The warden of the Municipality of Yarmouth has confirmed the temporary leasing of the Cape Forchu site to the film company and says the location scout was “very pleased with it.”
“He was greatly impressed,” said Leland Anthony.
“It’s the rock formation that they wanted in the Leif Ericson Park. They also liked the fact that there was a flat area next to a rocky backdrop.”
Anthony says temporary structures planned for the site include the shell of a 60-foot lighthouse built for the era of the film and a small boat launch for scenes of the lighthouse keeper departing and arriving by dory. There will also be a coal shed, a house with a breezeway to the mock lighthouse and two other maintenance sheds.
The sets will be dismantled at the end of the filming as they do not meet the building code and could prove to be a danger over time,” says Anthony.
“They’re only there for looks. In the contract, the film company guarantees that everything will be taken down and things will be put back the way they were,” he said.
The Cape Forchu lightstation will not be in any scenes.
The production crew will be supplying their own power with a baffled generator and the noise level will be very low, says Anthony.
Some of the parking space up the hill from the main parking lot at the Cape Forchu lighthouse will be used by the film company, also the Wentzell house (former gift shop) will serve as a comfort station for coffee or discussions. The lower parking lot will be utilized for filming equipment.
Close to 70 people in the production crew will require three meals each day.
“They’re looking at setting up a tent and having their own big catering truck to prepare the food,” said Anthony.
The erection of a large tent on a flat area beside the Wentzell House is tentatively planned.
As there are only a few main actors, no extras are required.
There will be 24/7 security on the property.
Anthony says residents between John’s Cove Beach and the Cape Forchu lighthouse will be visited by a film company executive to assure them there will always be travel space for their needs and passage for emergency vehicles.
Rather than having each person drive their own vehicle to the site, mustering points for production crew will be set up for boarding a chartered van to cut down on traffic and parking.
An accommodation scout for the film has already made one visit to the Yarmouth area to see what’s available.
Discussions will be held with harbour masters for Yarmouth wharves and the Yarmouth Bar to communicate times when filming will be taking place. Fishermen will be contacted over VHF radio and requested to leave large spotlights off when in the filming vicinity.
“We’re quite confident the fishermen would be willing to do that,” said Anthony.
He says the municipality anticipates economic benefits from the film because “it’s the slow time of the year” for some restaurants, hotels and other establishments as well.
“The location scout was very pleased to learn there was a local scaffolding company, for instance,” he said.
“It’s their off time of the year. You don’t see much scaffolding going up right now, so there’s an economic spin-off right there.”