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Stormy Weather
Production began in May 2007 in the small town of Rodanthe and its environs on the Outer Banks, an approximately 200-mile string of barrier islands that parallel the North Carolina coast and seasonally bear the brunt of the ocean's fury. Known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, this hurricane-prone region rates one of the highest densities of shipwrecks in the world.

"Nick's books are always set in North Carolina and Rodanthe is an isolated and very specific part of the Outer Banks,” says Di Novi, confirming that the challenges of filming there were well worth the effort. "There is something undeniably magical about the place that we knew could not be duplicated anywhere else. It's a setting rarely seen on film, a truly unique place in America that few people have experienced.”

Scouting locations for the film, Wolfe was particularly struck by the way the Outer Banks suits the story's romantic drama. "It's a landscape that's breathtakingly beautiful, but also vulnerable and exposed, a relatively thin strand of earth surrounded by water on both sides. You can really feel the power of the ocean and the sky. It became clear to me how the forces of nature and the elements played a part in making this love happen between these two people.”

Screenwriter John Romano notes how Nicholas Sparks honors the storyteller's tradition of harnessing these powerful external forces to his characters' emotional states and the drama of their lives. "The hurricane rages outside, throwing them together, but there's also a storm brewing within the house, between the two of them, that echoes it. There's a seamless flow between the turbulence without and the turbulence within. It was George's intention to see this realized on screen; in the way he imagined it—in the dialogue, in the way he shot it and in what the actors bring to it with their tremendous capacity for subtext.”

While it may be true that nature and circumstance conspire dramatically to bring Paul and Adrienne together, it is equally true that these forces seemed determined to scatter the crew and their materials all over the coastline.

With a laugh, Wolfe vividly recalls, "There were times we began filming and the ocean said, ‘No, you won't be doing that scene today because I'm coming up to take away a piece of your set.' And it would. There was nothing we could do but adjust our schedule. It was a fascinating process, especially for me, as a person who's lived in New York City for a thousand years, to go out there and find myself actively negotiating a relationship with nature just to get my work done.”

Despite careful planning to avoid storm season, production was slammed on its second day by a Nor'easter, with 55 mph winds and rain. It was the earliest storm to hit the area in the past 30 years, bringing with it the highest tides seen in more than a decade. "The tide washed most of the sand out from under the house,” says Oscar®-winning production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein ("Amadeus”), referring to the story's primary exterior set—an existing local structure that became the movie's inn—which not only lost up to four feet of sand from its foundation but also two flights of 18-foot steps, along with props and equipment that had been stored there. "It was still standing, but at a very precarious angle. With the loose sand washed away, we saw big bags of sand that had been placed under the house to stabilize it during a prior storm, plus newly exposed roots and stumps of Cyprus trees, probably centuries old, that appeared at the water's edge, left over from a time when this area was a coastal forest.”

Under von Brandenstein's guidance, the crew brought in several additional construction units from nearby Wilmington and worked over the next four days to rebuild. "The two sets of stairs that washed down the beach were found a coup


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