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Hollywood’s back in Bodega and Bodega Bay

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | Posted by

Maurice Benard in Bodega on the film set. (Photo by Andrea Granahan)

Ever since Alfred Hitchcock invaded Bodega and Bodega Bay in the 1960s, the towns have been on the Hollywood Rolodex, and numerous film and television crews have put in appearances, often shooting commercials. So no one was very surprised to see film trucks driving up to the parking lot outside St. Teresa of Avila Church.

But this time another full length movie is being shot. It is a suspense thriller called “The Ghost and The Whale,” written by Anthony Gaudioso ,who also directs it and has a role, and his brother James, who also has a role. Set in Bodega Bay, the film is about a man named Joseph Hawthorne who goes to sea with “the love of his life” but comes back alone. Since he was having a bi-polar episode at sea, he is not sure what happened except that a whale breached the boat and knocked his wife overboard. Many think he murdered his wife. He is haunted by a whale he speaks to, and as the story unfolds everyone, including him, learns what happened at sea.

Tippi Hedren makes a cameo appearance with one line, “A murder of crows, ” according to one of the crew.

“It is Bodega Bay, and there are lots of birds out there,” grinned the star Maurice Benard, explaining Hedren’s presence. He turns 50 on March 1 while they are still filming.

Benard stars in the soap opera “General Hospital” as a bi-polar gangster, and he also is bi-polar, so knows intimately the pains of the mental illness.

“Hawthorne is complicated character. There is a lot of pain in him,” said Benard, who plays the role. “There are some monologues that tells just what the illness is all about. It’s different from the television role I play. This is an everyday guy with a lot of turmoil in him. It’s a fantastic film. It goes beyond my imagination. I know because I’ve seen the dailies.”

A crew of about 30 were very busy shooting beach scenes at Dillon Beach this past week, and for the next few weeks will be in the area completing the shoot in various locations. Benard’s wife Paula is the executive producer, and his 8-year-old son acts in scenes from Hawthorne’s childhood.

The crew was very willing to talk with locals about movie jobs, the difference between a grip and a gaffer, and even what a best boy does. A grip hammers and hauls. A gaffer figures out how to provide the director with lighting of a certain kind by figuring out what lamps and reflectors will produce it. The grip goes to the best boy (sometimes a woman), who is a sort of equipment quartermaster. He (or she) signs it out, the grip hauls it and sets up the stand, the gaffer puts the lighting in place and adjusts it. Never, ever does one do the other’s job – union rules.

The producers are actually still seeking backers for “The Ghost and The Whale” on Kickstarter. For as little as a dollar, someone can add to the fund. The public can learn more about the project at theghostandthewhale.com.


  • JeanMarie Sullivan

    This movie is going to be EPIC!

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Andrea Granahan is our Bodega area correspondent.
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