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About The Production
Darabont created the atmosphere of a high school class reunion by bringing together the collective talents of thirteen fellow graduates and friends from Hollywood High School in the making of the film. In addition to writer Michael Sloane (class of '76). production designer Gregory Melton ('77) and costumer Karyn Wagner ('78), Darabont (class of '77), recruited veteran hairstylists NINA PASKOWITZ ('77) and Emmy winner KATHERINE REES ('77), L.A. location managers JOHN GRANT ('78) and STEVE RINGEL ('78), Melton's art director, TOM WALSH ('74), actress APRIL ORTIZ ('76), transportation co-captain CRAIG LIETZKE ('78), set dressers SHANNON WADE ('80) and CHARLIE NICHOLSON ('77) and Associate Producer and President of Production at Darkwoods Productions (his film banner), ANNA GARDUTZ4O ('77).

"The Majestic" was filmed entirely in the state of California, utilizing several locales in-and-around Los Angeles (Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Formosa Cafe) before traveling to the northern California communities of Ferndale, Mendocino and Ft. Bragg to create the fictional village of Lawson. Interiors were designed at the former Goldwyn Studios lot (now known as "The Lot") in West Hollywood.

Darabont filmed a good portion of his enchanting homage to the cinema in a charming northern California town that actually has no movie theater — Ferndale, the Victorian Village nestled in the Redwood Forest area on the state's Lost Coast some 20 miles south of Eureka.

The vintage enclave (known for its fertile dairyland and for being the first community to process sweet cream butter around 1900) was founded in 1852, incorporated in 1893 and is now populated by 1400+ residents. The homey community is distinguished as being the only town recognized by California's register of historical landmarks.

Darabont singled out Ferndale after visiting the tiny tourist spot by chance a decade ago. "I remember driving up the coast to visit my brother in Seattle. I pulled off the freeway to check this little town out. I fell in love with its look, and recall thinking that this would make a wonderful place in which to shoot a movie, if you had the material to suit it. When I read Michael's script, I immediately thought of this town. Ferndale has maintained its old-fashioned character, and has been kept pristine over the years, kept very much in its period character.

"Other than the weather, which defines capricious, it was the perfect place to shoot," says the director. "This is one of those rare towns where you look up and down Main Street and there's no McDonald's on every corner. As a main character, this town was very, very vital."

Commencing talks with the town early on helped veteran location manager Rory Enke pave the way for the film company to begin production in the Spring. Ferndale had hosted Hollywood twice before — the 1978 Stephen King miniseries, "Salem's Lot," and the 1995 medical thriller, "Outbreak."

Construction began under the supervision of production designer Gregory Melton. Darabont and Melton realized they would have to build an entire building to simulate the aging movie palace of the film's title. The company took over Ferndale's public parking lot and erected an entire theater featuring a unique, dazzling marquee.

"This parking lot seemed like the perfect place to just plop our theater," Darabont notes. "Greg Melton, a brilliant production designer, and his construction and decorating crews, designed this marvelous, marvelous piece. It was quite breathtaking. It put me in a good mood every time we lit it up. I wished we could have taken it back to L.A. and use that marquee to open up a (real) movie theater. It's just fantastic!"

"It was interesting, because I designed the theater before I knew we would shoot in Ferndale," Melton recalls


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