September 28, 2008

Outer Banks Views the Movie It Stars In


By Catherine Kozak

The Virginian-Pilot

kill devil hills

At the same time the opening scenes from "Nights in Rodanthe" filled the big screen Wednesday, water was racing into the road from the sea at the place where parts of the movie were shot.

Ticket-holders traveling from Hatteras Island who wanted to attend the private screening at the R/C Kill Devil Hills Movies 10 had to leave the island early, before the high tide came over the highway at Mirlo Beach. And lucky they did, because at 4 p.m., the road there was closed.

The audience, which included locals who participated in the six- week shooting on the Outer Banks in May and June 2007, cheered with the first peek of familiar territory at a shot of star Richard Gere on the Ocracoke ferry.

That was followed quickly by applause at an eye-popping aerial shot of Gere zipping up N.C. 12 toward Rodanthe in his sports car - no matter that the geography was wrong, because it was really on N.C. 12 in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

"We forget sometimes how beautiful the Outer Banks is," Carl Curnutte, the executive director of "The Lost Colony," said after the showing. "You go to a film to be sort of taken away, and you say, 'Wow. This is a place I want to go to.' And then you realize ... you're here."

Like other locals, Curnutte was amused by the movie's depiction of the storm, which came and went in less than a day.

"I wish all hurricanes were over that quick," he said.

Judging by the number of empty seats in the theater, it appeared that many people were deterred from traveling.

Kathy and Herb "Speedy" Price, who live in Frisco, decided to live it up and take a limousine to the theater. They departed at 11:30 a.m., and even that early, the stiff wind swirled sand around their vehicle as it sped up the coast.

"There was a scene in the movie that looked just like that," Speedy Price said after the screening.

A fiddle player who performs regularly at the annual Frisco Jubilee, Price is one of the few extras from the Outer Banks who didn't land on the cutting room floor.

Price said the music was recorded in advance in a studio as part of the soundtrack, and his close-up scene on the Rodanthe pier was of him pretending to play the instrument.

"We were shooting that scene during a storm that night," Price said. "It was rough to do because we were trying to stand up straight and the wind was almost blowing us over."

Ron Bennett, market president at Gateway Bank in Kitty Hawk, said he played an oyster-shucker in the party scene under the pier, and he was pleased to see that he made it into the movie.

"I'm wearing a big floppy hat," he said. As he is dumping the oysters out, he turns and the camera catches his profile.

The extras spent 14 hours or more on the scene, he said. "All that work for 30 seconds! But it was worth it."

Bennett's son, Ryan "Flash" Bennett, worked as a production assistant on the film, and his wife, Becky Bennett, also had a role as an extra. He said his wife had handed Richard Gere's character a cracker, but he didn't see her in the shot.

"I'm not a chick-flick guy, but it was very well written and very well acted," he said. "I cried like a baby. It's ridiculous."

He was one of many who were sniffling toward the end of the movie, when the theater got very quiet.

Carolyn McCormick, managing director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, who attended the New York premiere, remarked in a phone interview on the coincidence that it stormed in Rodanthe last May when the production was starting, it stormed in the "Nights in Rodanthe" story, and it stormed in Rodanthe when the movie was showing on the Outer Banks .

"God, is this serendipitous," McCormick said she was thinking, taking her cue from Serendipity, the name of the Rodanthe house featured in the movie.

"When we started this, Richard couldn't land his plane on Roanoke Island."

Even though the power poles and lines were edited out of the highway scenery and the Banker ponies haven't been on the beach in more than 50 years, the movie was a great showcase for the genuine magic of the Outer Banks, she said.

Domestic marketing pegged to the movie has a promotional value of more than $500,000, she said, and the area's beautiful scenery is getting a lot of notice.

"So the buzz is good," McCormick said, and she did nothing to discourage the romantic appeal of the barrier islands. "I said, 'Of course, everybody can find romance on the Outer Banks.' "

Catherine Kozak, (252) 441-1711,

[email protected]

film on location

Step inside Serendipity, the Rodanthe house used in the film.

Front section, Page 1


Get Mal Vincent's take on the movie.


Originally published by BY CATHERINE KOZAK.

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