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‘Sandbars To Sanibel’ nears filming wrap date

By Staff | Jul 8, 2009

Last Friday afternoon, two Bailey parade mules picked up some additional work as extras in a special historical movie project being filmed right here on Sanibel.

Emma and Anna, as the mules are more commonly known, were the centerpiece for a scene from “Sandbars To Sanibel,” a fictional story based around various buildings at the Sanibel Historical Village & Museum and real people that once lived on the island.

The project, inspired by Sanibel son Sam Bailey, was undertaken by script-writer and long-time museum volunteer Jody Brown and accomplished island cinematographer Rusty Farst.

“This kind of started with a suggestion from Sam Bailey, that he would like to have something that featured all of the buildings out here at the museum, and then Rusty said that he would like to do something at the museum. At about the same time, I said that if I was going to do something at the museum, here’s what I would do, and I gave the outline to Sam and we all got together,” said Brown.

“We appreciate Sam’s willingness and desire to want to do this. He’s kind of been the key by which we’ve opened the doors to all of these buildings. We’re highlighting the buildings, we’re highlighting the people that lived in them and we’re showing a day in the life of the pioneers of Sanibel,” Farst added.

“According to Sam, there is no truth in it,” Brown noted with a laugh, “So yes, it is fictional, but it’s based on stories we’ve heard over the years, using these particular buildings and finding a way to link each building while still having a story that has a beginning middle and end.”

Even Francis Bailey himself will be making an appearance in the film as Frank Bailey.

Brown said that the film, which will run for about 30 minutes, follows the story of the postmaster’s daughter, Hazel Reed, who has accidentally gotten the letter she is carrying wet after stopping to pick up a beautiful shell, rendering the address on the letter completely illegible.

The film follows Hazel as she goes from building to building and person to person, trying to figure out who the letter belongs to.

The only character in the film that is not based on a real person is Jack, played by Dylan Conway, the store stockboy and Hazel’s love interest.

“It’s been fun. A lot of the people I know from growing up here so it’s fun working with them,” said Conway, who grew up on Sanibel and has visited the museum many times over the years.

In fact, everyone – despite shooting in sweltering temperatures and withstanding frequent visits from mosquitoes – seems to be having a good time, something that makes Farst quite pleased with the whole filming process.

“The most overwhelming part of all this for me has been that these actors have all been on time and they’ve all given 110 percent. Through hot days, cold days, wardrobe. It’s been uncomfortable for them, but they have all done an excellent job,” Farst said.

Almost 50 Sanibel residents have volunteered to act in the film.

“None of them are professional actors and they’ve all just done great,” he continued.

Dane Johnson and Andrew Turner, two 12-year-old boys who say they are really enjoying the acting experience, are playing Sam and Francis Bailey in the movie.

“It’s been hot, but fun,” Johnson said.

“It’s been awesome,” added Turner.

According to Farst, the film will include three different aerial components and was shot entirely with a hand held camera in 24 frames per second, which he says helps to draw out the finer details of the historic buildings.

“This is the real deal. Where else could you go back to the original building? They’re all in one place, and yet, the film makes them look like they’re scattered around the island. Through time, conversation and music in the film, we’ve used those components to separate these buildings,” Farst said.

The filming process is now drawing to a close, having started almost three months ago, but the finished product is slated for debut during Celebrate Sanibel! in November.

The Sanibel Historical Museum & Village, located at 950 Dunlop Road, is open May 1 through Aug. 11, Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information about the museum, call 472-4648 or visit www.sanibelmuseum.org.