Following three months’ worth of preproduction and planning, filming for “Safe Haven” is scheduled to start next Monday—though in Wilmington initially; in Southport thereafter.
A preliminary schedule of filming has been filed at Southport City Hall as part of a required film permit. The schedule is subject to change and is considered incomplete, but it calls for filming in Southport on Monday, July 9, on Brunswick Street, where a set has been built over the past several weeks.
Filming would continue there through July 19, with shooting times for those first two weeks from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Crew members have said that filming would include this year’s N.C. Fourth of July Festival parade, but no dates earlier than July 9 are listed for Southport on the shooting schedule. Filming is slated to start in Wilmington June 18-22.
Back in Southport, on July 20, shooting times would change to between 1 p.m. and 4 a.m. at the same location, and those hours would continue through July 27. On July 30, the shooting schedule returns to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., continuing
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through August 1 at the Old American Fish Company bar. An additional day on Brunswick Street is scheduled on August 2.
Filming is also scheduled August 8 at the ILA Hall on West 10th Street from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with rain dates scheduled July 30-August 10.
Other locations listed without corresponding dates include South Howe Street between Bay and Moore streets, West Bay Street between Howe and Lord streets, the waterfront off West Bay Street beside Old American Fish Company, Southport City Pier, East Moore and South Davis streets, and Brunswick Street between Moore and Short streets. Shooting times for those locations are listed as 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The production’s base camp would be staged at Southport Marina, and catering would be coordinated at the former PJ’s restaurant across West West Street. Parking for extras is slated for a lot owned by ReMax on West Moore Street, as well as at the former restaurant or the ILA Hall depending on the day.
The schedule calls for 85 crew members on set at a time and anywhere from five to 100 extras depending on the day, in addition to as many as five cast members.
Street closures scheduled include West Moore Street at Yacht Basin Drive July 9-27 on weekdays, and Brunswick Street at Caswell Avenue during the same time. Other street closures are described but not specified with dates.
A controlled burn of the general store set on Brunswick Street is planned, as are fireworks to be set off a barge that will be positioned in the Yacht Basin or the Intracoastal Waterway.
Alterations would include removing the stop sign at Yacht Basin Drive and Brunswick Street and painting over or covering the painted stop line at the same location. The production requests police assistance with road closures and fire and water department assistance the night of the fireworks, as discussed with both. Also requested is access to the Salt Marsh Riverwalk and City Dock (at the Yacht Basin) for camera placement while filming at the general store.
Other details include plans for a picture car driving down Brunswick Street, and a bus driving through Southport along Howe Street to Bay Street and to the Yacht Basin. Some filming is also planned around and underneath the City Pier (on the waterfront).
Building to burn
The plans for a controlled burn of the general store, referred to as “Ryan’s Port Market” in the permit, fall in line with the storyline in Nicholas Sparks’s novel from which the film is being adapted. According to the book, a fire engulfs the general store in a climactic scene.
Southport fire chief Greg Cumbee confirmed that the production plans to do the same with the set being built at the Yacht Basin, and he and city officials including police chief Jerry Dove, Sgt. Gary Smith, interim public services director Bob Grant and other public services staff met with movie crew members Friday at the set to go over particulars of the controlled burn.
Cumbee said precautions will be taken to protect an overhanging live oak that stretches toward the building, and he said he is comfortable and confident with the plans overall.
“Mainly they were showing me their plans and how they’re going with their fire technicians to burn the building,” he said, “how they would be removing a lot of the walls from the inside—anything that would burn, they have chemicals that they’ll put on the walls to help with fire retardants.
“The fire will be controlled mostly with gas,” Cumbee added. “They’ll have pipes in there and they’ll have their own team of experts that do this kind of burning.
“I felt very confident in what they were discussing, how they were talking about handling it,” he said. “As far as safety, they’ve got a great safety plan. And the front of the building, as far as the oak tree, we feel good that there will be no damage to any of the oak trees.”
Cumbee noted that plans also call for pushing the building, once it is burned, over into a heap. It won’t be a straightforward fire, Cumbee said.
“There was a lot of discussion in town, people saying, ‘Well, they’re going to burn the building down.’ They’re going to push the building down, once it reaches the point that they need to,” he said. “Then they’re just going to take a tractor and push it down. Then they’ll simulate some more burning, which they will do some (actual) burning, but they do it with some chemicals that they throw on there, then they set it on fire and it looks real high, quick flames, and that’s it.
“So it won’t be where we just go down and throw a flammable liquid on that building; it burns down. That’s not going to happen,” Cumbee said. “So I feel very good about what they are doing. And I know that they’ve talked with the Coast Guard, to let them know what they’re doing.”
Most of the fire simulation will be from the windows and inside the building on the water side, Cumbee said. “But the building will be taken down, they will push it down, and then they’ll do another burn at the very end to simulate that the building burned down. That’s what they’re actually doing.
“It’s not a matter of us throwing a torch and watching it all go up,” Cumbee added, noting that water curtains will be used to further protect adjacent trees and property.
“I think they’re making every effort to make sure what we need for the city to protect our trees is being done,” Cumbee said. “And environmentally, I think we’re very good there. They realize that we cannot let anything get into the river, and they’re on top of that.
“Even though they have their own crew that’s going to do the burning—they have a safety crew—while they’re burning, we will have firefighters standing by down there with a fire truck, just for a back-up,” he said, “to protect the surrounding area and houses or any sparks or anything, and also the night they set the fireworks.”
Cumbee said any citizens who have concerns regarding the burn can contact him or any Southport firefighter to have them addressed.
Ready to film
Earlier last week, Lasse Hallstrom, the film’s director, was seen walking the waterfront and the Fort Johnston Garrison lawn with a posse of producers and assistants, apparently assessing potential locations.
Over the weekend, an area casting company called for stand-ins and extras for the production. The Vanessa Neimeyer casting company in Wilmington called for two female stand-ins and one male stand-in, as well as extras for filming in Wilmington, on the company’s Facebook page.
Extras would work in Wilmington Monday through Friday, June 18-22, while stand-ins would work in Wilmington and Southport. The timeframe falls in line with reports that filming for “Safe Haven” would start this coming Monday, though in Wilmington first and later in Southport.
Crew members have said they are looking at an eight-week shoot to include this year’s N.C. Fourth of July Festival parade.