, Gloucester, MA

June 3, 2008

'Perfect Storm' film crew lands

Waterfront regulars knew at a glance that the dozen or so guys with dark tans and sunglasses who were milling around Gloucester Marine Railways glued to cell phones Friday were not local fishermen.

A location crew from Los Angeles was in town taking background photographs for the movie version of Sebastian Junger's book, "The Perfect Storm," an account of the 1991 No Name storm that sank the local fishing boat, the Andrea Gail.

The photographs are one of the first steps in making the $100 million movie that will be shot here in Gloucester and at Warner Brothers studios in Burbank, California.

"We're here hoping the weather cooperates," said Location Manager Michael Meehan. "It's been overcast and that's what we're looking for."

From the Railways' dock, the photography crew shot different views of the wharves and Inner Harbor. The photographs will be placed in the windows of film sets built in Hollywood to give the movie's interior scenes a Gloucester feeling.

"We're trying to make everything authentic," Meehan said, adding that the photography crew will be taking different shots of the city over the next month or two.

But movie audiences won't see just random shots of everyday Gloucester.

"Everything here has been created -- the way the nets were placed, the lobster traps, even the placement of that bicycle," said security guard Harvey Crocker as he pointed to a fishing net draped neatly over a dock rail.

As he spoke, workers were raking, sweeping and tidying up the yard.

Crocker was on hiatus from guarding the statues at the City Hall sculpture show thanks to a good word to the film crew from Mayor Bruce Tobey.

And so far his new job hasn't been too hard.

"Meehan has been super to Gloucester people," he said. "I'm just restricting people from driving down (near the wharf) while they're shooting."

Warner Brothers has also built some goodwill by choosing the Harbor Loop side of the Railways as a site and making some minor repairs to the grounds.

And the company has also replaced the masts on the Adventure, which they plan to use in the background of several shots for the film.

"We would like to pull it up on the railway and really show it off," Meehan said.

But exactly when that filming might start is still unclear.

"We are actively casting the movie but until those people are selected, we won't know when we'll be here," Meehan said.

Nicolas Cage was originally named as the lead to play local fisherman Bobby Shatford but Cage was forced to back out because of other commitments.

Although other big names for the lead have been tossed around, Meehan remained tight-lipped about who is now on the studio's short list.

"It's bad luck to talk about it in our business," he said, smiling.

However, when those choices are finally made, schedules will be set and film crews will make their way to the waterfront.

"The people here have been exceptional," Meehan said. "Gloucester has been wonderful and we're looking very much forward to coming back."