I don't do boats. I love the ocean. But I don't do boats. The constant swaying. The unexpected dips. The loss of a sense of gravity. I wasn't blessed with hardy inner ears. Yet there I was, during the first few days of January 2019, on a boat heading to Nantucket, in the middle of a rainstorm and 30 mile-an-hour winds.
I turned to my brother, Brendan, who had so graciously accompanied me on this voyage, as we sat huddled in a U-Haul SUV, in the cargo section of the Gray Lady ferry boat. We chewed on precautionary ginger gum, glanced at the clock every 30 seconds, and prayed this ride would all be over soon. The fact that I kept craning my neck to check behind me on all the film equipment I had rented from a group of friendly filmmakers in Western Massachusetts, certainly wasn't helping my motion sickness either. I was convinced this rocking boat was going to break something back there. Even though I wasn't sure what everything back there was. That's a C stand? I think.
I didn't go to film school at NYU/Tisch. I went to their acting school. I know how to dissect a script, how to find my light, how to relax under pressure. I had a loose understanding of production, but mostly from being in front of the camera. I had never taken on a film project with this high of a budget before and I certainly was out of my comfort zone as an executive producer, co-writer, and actress of a short film. I especially didn't know anything about film equipment or how to transport said equipment to my own set, 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. But this had always been a dream of mine. Writing, acting and producing this film, with some incredible professional filmmakers, now friends, and shooting it on Nantucket. And ferry-boat turbulence willing, the film was finally happening. Or would it?
So much could go wrong. Cast and crew could miss flights, boats, and cabs. Our director might have to leave mid-week because he got a call-back for a lead on a network TV show. People might not get along. Would it snow during our exterior shoot day? Would we be able to get off the island at the end of this? Was it wise to fly nine crew members out to a remote island to film a movie in the middle of winter?
The idea for the film, Last Hurrah, came to Lee Hurst and me five years ago. Hurst, my co-writer, co-producer and co-star, and I were recent grads from the same acting program, and we were determined to work and create our own projects. We were also hit with that necessary but painful post-grad reality check; day jobs, rejections, Stephen Spielberg not knocking down our doors, moving across the country from each other and the death of a friend. Thus sparked the inspiration for the feature film we wrote together about a group of friends reuniting on Nantucket Island.
But that feature was put on pause. Life and new creative opportunities took over. Although we both still had this Nantucket film in the back of our minds.
In the summer of 2018, we consulted our NYU friend, Katherine Del Rio, who had a film at the Los Angeles Shorts Festival, about this concept. Del Rio and her new husband, David, were on board for the ride. David is an actor (Pitch Perfect, Grease! Live) and director whose feature film, Sick For Toys, was a grand prize jury nominee for Best Texas Film at the Dallas International Film Festival. We decided to make it a short film.
When my U-Haul made it off the boat, with our equipment fully intact and the cast and crew got off their planes from Los Angeles, it was all becoming a terrifying but exciting reality. On the morning of our last day of shooting, I was up at 4:30 AM after wrapping the previous night at 2 AM. I immediately checked my phone. It was 5 degrees outside. But it was sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. I didn't care about the temperature because what mattered most was that it would look good on camera. The blue sky, the pink flushes from the cold on our actresses faces, the indigenous grasses on the dunes dancing in the wind, the waves crashing on that unspoiled, creamy beach. Would we be able to feel our fingers and toes? Probably not. So I grabbed some extra hand warmers, an extra six layers of clothing, and made my way downstairs to get into hair and makeup. It took a solid 24 hours for us all to defrost, but no weather was going to keep us from getting that final shot.
Last Hurrah completed production on Nantucket Island January 13th, 2019. We're proud to announce that the film has just been selected by The Chelsea Film Festival, screening on October 18th. With the festival named by USA Today as one of the top 10 best film festivals in the country, it's an accomplishment this first-time filmmaker never thought possible.
As that ferry boat rocked me back and forth through notorious Nantucket gale force winds, I realized, I had made it this far. There was no turning back now. Especially because I'd have to swim a few miles. And despite the storm that was beating down on me now, I believed the sky would clear and our little film would be made.
I guess I really can do boats.