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Filming Charlie's World
Though Sherwood's novel is set in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the filmmakers decided to play out the story on the opposite coast, in the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver, British Columbia, and surrounding areas became the setting for this narrative, with multiple locations providing the geographic elements the filmmakers needed. Production designer Ida Random had her work cut out for her as she imagined Charlie and Sam's world. "Burr had a very definite vision for this film,” she explains. "We loved the Andrew Wyeth feeling of it, and I started collaging a lot of pictures, such as headstones.

For our angels and headstones, Burr wanted to personally look at all of them. Similarly, with the sailboats, he was very specific about each color on every boat in the opening race. It was a challenge to keep a delicate design balance. Everything had to be perfect, but not noticeable. Things were real, and yet they were not. Believable, yet unbelievable, too.”

Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands was the template for the fictitious town of Quincy. But to create this small, picturesque harbor community, three locations were utilized: Gibsons, Steveston and Deep Cove. All of these are seaside towns that were blended together to create Charlie's hometown.

As well, North Vancouver Cemetery, at the base of the North Shore Mountains, doubled for Seaside Cemetery, where Charlie works and Sam is buried. The exterior of Charlie's caretaker cottage was erected at Minaty Bay near Brittania Beach, where additional water sequences were also filmed. The coffee shop in which Florio Ferrente tries to convince Charlie to move on with his life is the historic bar Molly's Reach, in Gibsons, B.C. Molly's Reach was made famous by the long-running Canadian television series The Beachcombers, which filmed at that location for more than 13 years.

Other locations include Seycove Secondary School, where Charlie's graduation was lensed; Grebe Islets, in which the wreck of The Querencia is found; Central Park in Burnaby, which doubled as the Great Lawn; and Rice Lake Seymour Watershed, the pond where Sam and Charlie are comically attacked by geese.

There was a good deal of discussion about the glade behind the cemetery where Charlie and Sam meet at the close of each day when the cannons sound. It was a vitally important setting in both the novel and the film. Because the time of day was always sunset, it made the filmmakers vulnerable to time constraints in which to shoot the magic hour. It was ultimately decided to re-create this otherworldly setting on a sound stage.

The look and feel of the glade was inspired by a serene section of forest in North Vancouver where Random would often walk her dog. Construction coordinator BRIAN SHELL advises that the glade, approximately 150 feet by 50 feet, was unusual in its high-sided, bowl-shaped design. It took five weeks to build and assemble, and it was dressed with more than 200 trees salvaged from other productions and cleared building sites, as well as indigenous shrubs and mosses. As peaceful as it was, through much of the film both brothers are searching for the type of respite they are so close to finding.

To complement the practical design and actual locations created for the film, Steers brought on board visual effects teams led by visual effects producer Erika McGee. Under her guidance, RHYTHM & HUES STUDIOS and DYFED designed the majority of the film's VFX. These two shops received support from MR. X and LEVEL 256.


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