(St. John’s, Canada)
May 25, 2001

The Shipping News is big news in Trinity
by LINDA LOU GOODYEAR, Special to The Telegram

The tiny town of Trinity and surrounding communities are still abuzz after a month of filming The Shipping News, a high-budget Hollywood film starring acting icons Kevin Spacey and Judy Dench.

With economic spinoffs expected in the millions, the hype and the cash flow are palpable.

One business, the Dock Marina Restaurant, Art Gallery and Craft Shop, has become a mecca for the American visitors.

Owner Art Andrews displays various items from 150 Newfoundland artists and crafts people and — courtesy of a U.S. dollar which buys $1.56 Canadian — the American crew members are buying up woolen goods, quilts and wooden bowls in droves.

The bowls, which are exclusive to the shop, retail for $200 to $600 Cdn.

Andrews expects the restaurant portion of his business to pick up this week when the film crew moves its filming site to the wharf in front of his establishment.

Ron and Freda Coleman negotiated the use of their land known as Coleman’s Point.

The entire peninsula was used for several important scenes near the community of Dunfield.

The couple also wanted to handle security for the Newfoundland portion of the film.

They were successful and a security contract was included as part of their deal with the production company.

Ron Coleman described his business with the company as straightforward and “yes, very worthwhile.”

Ray Bailey says he, too, is doing well with his gas bar, where the film’s 40 rented SUVs are filling up before they head out each day to destinations as far away as Port Union, some 35 km away.

He estimates sales have increased 150 per cent. Bailey is working much longer hours — some days from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. — to accommodate the rigorous schedules of the film crews.

Mayor David White said the biggest effect of the film has been on local unemployment.

With a tourism industry that doesn’t generally kick in until mid-June and a fishing industry that’s waiting for quotas, the movie has taken a huge bite out of the local unemployment rate.

Word on the street is anyone who wants a job can get one, and some people are taking full advantage.

One local resident, John Peddle, was only too delighted to move his satellite dish for $200, a task which he said took him five minutes.

He was paid $12 an hour to shovel snow and he presently works security for $16 an hour on one of the sets in New Bonaventure.

Eyebrows were raised around town when scene sequences required that people who had been paid to remove snow from the set were paid to put it back again.

Rocky Johnson, proprietor of Rocky’s Bar — the most popular lounge in the area — has noticed an increase in the sales of gin and tonic.

But his biggest sellers with the film types are the local beers as sales of Black Horse and Dominion have never been better.

And Rocky’s is the spot to be. On any given night the eclectic crowd includes hairdressers from Los Angeles, writers from New York, set designers from Toronto, prop masters from Nova Scotia and the locals, all blending in for a little fun.

Rocky readily admits it’s in his best interests for all patrons to appreciate that people who work on the film don’t want to be hassled on their time off. Anyone acting otherwise is quickly shown the door.

Given that Spacey has been known to frequent Rocky’s Bar to play pool, privacy issues are paramount.

These men set the tone for what seems like a protective, almost nurturing climate that has permeated the entire community.

Helen Peters had nothing but good things to say when her house was meticulously returned to its previous state after she and her partner, Henry Prembley, vacated it for three weeks for use in the film.

However, not everything is idealic.

This week an innocent bystander who took a picture of the Beaumont Hamel, the Bell Island ferry transported to Port Union for use in the movie, had his film confiscated after it was discovered he had snapped the shot during a shoot.

None of this seems to apply to Newfoundland’s own Gordon Pinsent, who insists on being called by his first name wherever he goes.

Pinsent has poked his nose in the kitchen to be friendly many times according to Rachael Earl, cook for the Village Inn B & B.

The film people all love figgy duff, she reports, but she did have to order a special type of lettuce called mesclun mix when she learned that iceberg lettuce had fallen out of fashion with most of her guests.

During any spare time crew members have been venturing to St-Pierre, Gros Morne or St. John’s, hastily trying to take in the Newfoundland hot spots during their six-week stay.

Amazingly most visitors say they don’t mind the weather. As one crew member from Los Angeles put it, he can always get sun.

PHOTO in online story: This is a newspaper prop of The Gammy Bird used in the film The Shipping News now being filmed in Newfoundland. Actor Kevin Spacey’s character Quoyle is a reporter at the fictional newspaper. (Photo: Linda Lou Goodyear/Special to The Telegram)