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Shell Shocked: "Sanibel: The New Hollywood"

August 5, 2011
Art Stevens , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

One of the agenda items for the Sanibel City Council should be to promote Sanibel as a locale for Hollywood movies. Imagine the glamour that would be associated with Sanibel if such movie stars as Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Francis Bailey and Rudolf Valentino were to make movies here.

Do you think we can persuade Johnny Depp to film sequel number 25 "Pirates of the Caribbean: Sanibel Sea Shells" here or George Clooney when he films "Oceans Sanibel?"

We have such natural locales within Sanibel to whet the appetite of film makers everywhere. We have our beaches where Steven Spielberg can film his sequel to "Saving Private Ryan," which I understand will be called "The Heck with Private Ryan."

And Ding Darling will provide the ideal setting for outdoor adventure movies that are normally made in exotic locales in Africa. "Jurassic Park XXIII" could be on our agenda and would feature our very own Nile Monitor Lizards filmed in close up.

I need to ask our island historians if any movies were ever made here. If not we're wasting an opportunity to become even more famous as well as to extract huge filming fees. Our vast outdoors would be perfect settings for a range of movie themes: war, murder mystery, romantic comedy, science fiction, horror, jungle and so on. You name it, Sanibel's got just the right locale for it.

Why is it that when you visit the Sanibel book stores you will find an array of novels that use Sanibel as their locales? Why not movies? Rumor has it that several producers considered filming here in the past but were frightened away by the six dollar toll. The Sanibel City Council should create a series of concessions for film makers to induce them to bring their film crews here. One of those concessions would be to lower the toll to a buck fifty. The second would be to invite the Sun Dial to save a block of rooms for film crews at a huge discount.

The third would be to require the use of Sanibel residents as extras in movies. Can you imagine being in a scene with Tom Hanks and Drew Barrymore in which we get to dress up as Roman citizens wearing togas? Several of us would even get some speaking lines such as "The gladiator went that-away," or "Twas blackened fish that killed the beast", or "Round up the usual suspects, Brutus" or "Frankly, Cleopatra, I don't give a damn."

We should have two movies a year made in Sanibel and be in a position where we can reject scripts if we don't think the finished product will accrue to the benefit of Sanibel. We should be looking for mass box office potential to help put Sanibel on the map even more. Box office bombs will not do us any good.

The city council should appoint a Sanibel film czar to approve scripts, develop time lines for filming, recruit Sanibel extras, and discover local talent for eventual stardom. We'd like one of our own to embark on a film career and become just as famous as Brad Pitt or Drew Barrymore and visit us periodically to star in local theater.

We would have to make one additional concession to attract top producers. We would need to rename some of our restaurants and resorts after them. Timbers, McT's, and Traders would become Tarantino's, Ron Howard's and Spielberg's respectively. This is a small price to pay for the benefits to come.

You may not be aware of the fact that there were past discussions to attract major film makers to Sanibel. We were close to getting the most recent version of "King Kong" filmed in Ding Darling. But some irreconcilable differences got in the way. Naomi Watts insisted on bringing King Kong to an island restaurant as her guest but the restaurant owner declined.

Plus, the producers wanted to build a ninety-story building in Periwinkle Place to shoot the final scene in the movie. After some serious discussion this request was rejected by the Sanibel City Council. As a consequence the movie was shot in Africa.

But 2011 promises to be a banner year for Sanibel movie production if the City Council goes ahead with necessary legislation. Once selected, our new film czar will have discussions with all the Hollywood moguls and movie stars. Film crews will become a common site in Sanibel and rumor has it that next spring the new Jim Carrey movie "Ace Ventura: Shell Detective" will begin filming here.

 
 

 

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