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Filming a Movie

Lighthouses are popular places. Movies and TV shows have been filmed at and about lighthouses for decades. So it was no surprise that I was contacted by a local Northeast Ohio film producer about possibly filming a short movie at Fairport Harbor West.

Regardless of whether you’re filming a short movie, a long movie, a news story, or even a commercial, there are some similarities and quite a few differences that make each filming session unique. In this case, the movie was intended to be short (10-12 minutes) and told the story of a grieving mother who visits a lighthouse to connect with the ghost of her deceased son.

It’s a moving tale of loss, despair and even desperation for one last chance to connect with a deceased loved one. The script was written by the director, James (Jay) Williams of Grave Lake Media, stars Nicole Yost as the mother and Jay’s son, Cooper, as the little boy.

We started talking about filming at the lighthouse long before the pandemic; however, plans were obviously put on hold. When life returned to normal, we scheduled the filming for September 2022. Jay had several scenarios he wanted to film. First, the sunset, followed by the bulk of the scenes at night and finally, the sunrise. Needless to say, that meant a late, late night of work and an early morning wake up. Jay had been to the lighthouse several times to familiarize himself with the layout and prepare for the filming. He even brought his wife and sons so the older one, who would be in the movie, would feel comfortable.

When filming day arrived, Jay and the crew paired down their equipment as much as possible to make the ½ mile walk from the parking lot. While Jay and his crew toiled away setting up lights and camera equipment, I watched with intense curiosity. Maneuvering to get the lighting and scenery just right, the “talent” and crew worked through the various scenes until they were happy with what was captured.

They filmed a beautiful sunset to the west of the lighthouse and moved on to create each nighttime moment as Jay directed. Everyone there was extremely professional, accommodating and patient. As it grew close to midnight, I made my way to bed while they continued to act, film and do it over again until Jay was happy.

With just a few fitful hours of sleep, the crew was up before dawn to start again. Fortunately, the sunrise provided a glow of muted yellow, orange, and pink light in the eastern sky. I watched them finish the last few scenes as the sun rose. Not more than an hour into the new day, they were finished.

Tired, but pleased with what they created, the crew packed up and made the hike back to the parking lot with their equipment and other remnants of a movie shoot – mostly empty food containers and bottles to recycle.

After masterful editing and finalization, “The Breakwater,” was released in early 2023. Jay submitted it to several film festivals and won an Honorable Mention at the 2023 Short. Sweet. Film Fest in the “local” category. Congrats to Grave Lake Media.

To view the movie, click here. To read more about it, see this press release.

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