"Ranger Horrified at Movie Location"

by Bob Norberg, The Press Democrat, 23 May 1997

A horror movie being filmed on the Sonoma Coast will bring thousands of dollars to lodges and stores, but it makes at least one park ranger — who sees Hollywood sets within 50 feet of 150-year-old archaeological sites — want to scream.

"Personally, I don't think it's appropriate for this park," said Bill Walton, chief ranger at Fort Ross State Historic Park, where a film crew spent weeks building a set before deciding Thursday to shoot elsewhere. "This is a historic park and the movie has nothing to do with that. It would have been a lot easier if the film had something to do with the history of this park."

"I Know What You Did Last Summer" is being filmed by the independent company Summer Knowledge in North Carolina, but several scenes crucial to the plot are being shot on the Sonoma Coast. In the movie, four college- bound teens party on the beach, accidentally kill someone, roll the body off a pier into the ocean and are stalked when they return during summer vacation.

Crews pulled out of Fort Ross on Thursday without actually shooting because the ocean was too rough, but they had already constructed sets near a significant archaeological dig where University of California scientists and workers have unearthed what they believe to be the redwood timber shipway on which Russians built several sailing vessels in the early 1800s.

Breck Parkman, state archaeologist, worked with the crew to make sure that there was no harm to the Fort Ross archaeological site and also is consulting with the crew for the set on Campbell Cove, a location that has been identified as a possible landing site for Sir Francis Drake and his crew in 1579.

"I have mixed feelings on the shooting — it's not a movie I would go see, although I have two teen-age nephews who will," Parkman said.

The film isn't getting the notoriety of Wes Craven's "Scream," one of the highest-grossing horror films in history, which caused a highly public debate when Craven was barred from using Santa Rosa High School by a school board uneasy with the film's gory content.

"I Know What You Did Last Summer," however, is by the same screenwriter, Ken Williamson (sic), but there is little of the bloodshed. The cast includes Freddy (sic) Prinze Jr., Jennifer Lovehewitt (sic), Sara (sic) Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillipe (sic).

Sherry Green of the Sonoma County Film Office said most of the film is being shot in North Carolina, but the shoot is almost wrapped up and the crew will be moving to Sonoma County for several key scenes during the next two weeks.

The scenes will be shot at Kolmer Cove just north of Fort Ross, Schoolhouse Beach near Carmet and at Campbell Cove in Bodega Bay, where a 15-foot square boathouse and pier will be constructed. The boathouse and pier were originally in Fort Ross Cove.

Highway 1 will be closed next Thursday between Meyers Grade and Timber Cove Road from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. and next Friday, Monday and Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for a shot of a car careening out of control, almost going over a cliff and hitting someone walking along the road.

Traffic will be detoured over those two roads during filming.

The Campbell Cove shot, where the four friends are supposed to hide the evidence by throwing the body into the ocean, was supposed to be shot at Fort Ross Cove, but the ocean was too rough for the pier, said Walton.

The crew was packing up Thursday, said Walton, who is happy they're leaving.

"Having a film crew here is a distraction to the (school) kids spending the night here and to the people who come here to learn about the history of Fort Ross," Walton said.

Although state parks can't charge film companies, filmmaking is big business for Sonoma County, with film crews spending about $26,000 a day for lodging, food and gasoline. Craven's "Scream" brought in an estimated $2 million; "Peggy Sue Got Married" $3.9 million.

"I Know What You Did Last Summer" will have a crew of about 60 and they have to eat and have a place to stay, said Dave Verno of Timber Cove Landing, who is renting them a camping area for a 40-foot tent, which will serve as a mess hall, and space for trucks for $100 a day.

"We've seen their folks in our store — it's benefitted everyone here," said Steve Star, manager of Fort Ross Lodge. "It's good business for everyone in the area."

Green said that last year, among the major films shot in Sonoma County were "Scream," "Inventing the Abbotts" and "Lolita."

©1997 The Press Democrat

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