Hardy Plumbing
May 03, 2006

Hollywood Glamour On East End

Independent / Lisa Finn Nicole Kidman (click for larger version)
At 7 a.m. on April 25, the North Ferry terminal in Greenport was a portrait in serenity.

Sitting in the early morning spring sunshine was an orderly line of cars, drivers waiting patiently to board the North Ferry and head over to Shelter Island for a day of work or play. There were no cameras. No eager autograph seekers or pushy paparazzi. No one would even know a movie was about to be filmed.

It was certain, though, that the shooting was slated: Greenport Village Trustees passed a resolution to allow Paramount Pictures to shoot a drama/comedy, written by Noah Baumbach, of The Squid and the Whale fame, and starring Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, at the North Ferry terminal for one day, for a fee of $500.

The cameras have been rolling at several East End locales over the past few weeks — Hampton Bays, especially, and Kidman has been spotted numerous times shopping and dining in Southampton.

The script, according to the film's publicist, Eric Myers, is about Kidman's character going back to her childhood home for her sister's wedding.

After one day of shooting on Shelter Island, cast and crew were scheduled to visit Greenport.

At around 9 a.m., crew members appeared carrying a ladder and removing the East End Seaport and Maritime Museum signs, as well moving a soda machine. Next, crew members hung a new Shelter Island sign, most definitely an indication that things were heating up.

Soon, Southold Town Police Captain Martin Flatley was on the scene, confirming that yes, shooting was to take place and that Officer Steve Grattan would be stationed at the site for the day, as well as one other officer on the Shelter Island side.

At around 10 a.m., a ferry headed toward Greenport held a host of walk-ons, a sure sign that the Hollywood folk were finally converging upon the village.

Suddenly, it was lights, cameras, action, as a group of approximately 60 cast and crew gathered to ready Greenport for its closeup. Cameras were placed in position and the crafts service crew had set up their table, famous in Hollywood legends and lore, with a tempting array of snacks and beverages.

Myers said the day was "literally, a one shot deal," consisting of a single shot of Nicole Kidman hurrying to the ferry with her on-screen son, Zane Pais, 13, making his film debut.

The shot, he explained could last for hours, or minutes. It's never possible to tell how long filming will take for each scene, but on screen, the moment can be expected "to last for about 45 seconds."

That's long enough for a shot at stardom, especially for area residents including North Fork ferry employees Edward Clark Jr. and his son, Roger Clark, who found their five minutes of fame as extras.

Extras, explained Myers, are often chosen for their driving ability. Special cameras are hooked up either to a car in front of, or attached to, the featured vehicle, so scenes can be filmed.

And local businesses can even be captured for posterity in the proverbial Hollywood spotlight: Look for a truck from the Greenport-based awnings, canvas, and sailmaking firm Wm. J. Mills & Co. to be prominently featured in the shot.

Heads raised when Nicole Kidman stepped off the ferry in a stylish pink hat. Tall and lovely, she was the epitome of a movie star.

But, even throughout the filming, cars continued to travel on and off the ferry, drivers seemingly oblivious to the big happenings around them.

North Ferry Co., Inc. general manager Bridge Hunt said that was the goal. Satisfying customers, he said, "is the number one concern" and in fact, the film crew actually changed their scheduled shoot time to accommodate the rush hour schedule. 

Films have been shot on the North Ferry in the past, said Hunt, but emphasized that passengers come first, and should the shooting have compromised customer service, they would have chosen not to allow it.

Greenport has seen its share of stars: Most recently, The Devil's Own, starring Harrison Ford, was shot in the village. Perry Angelson, owner of the Harbourfront Deli, said that during shooting, Ford was a regular patron who used to come in for lunch through the back door at the restaurant's former location down the street.

Cast and crew packed up at about 11:10 a.m., leaving the streets of the village as peaceful as they had been only hours before.

See additional photos on page 12.

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