Part of my motivation for visiting Maine was that I’ve always claimed to have visited all 48 contiguous states, thanks to endless summer roadtrips with my family growing up. But my mom recently told me that we’d never been to Maine, which kicked in my set-completion instinct.
I was reluctant to try to pronounce any place names in front of people. Bar Harbor is on Mount Desert Island. “Desert” is pronounced like “dessert,” which conjures images of a fantasyland of fudge and sprinkles.
Even though a screenwriter isn’t trying to capture an accent per se, it’s important to choose words and patterns that can work with the accent when spoken by the actor. (“Down the road apiece. Can’t miss it.”)
That said, I feel lucky that this won’t be a big accent movie, because several Mainers were adamant that Hollywood always gets the accent wrong. Which is probably true. But what I resisted pointing out was that no two Mainers I met had the same accent. It’s all over the place, particularly when you talk to people under 30.
Going somewhere to write has become my standard operating procedure. I barricade myself somewhere without TV, internet or familial distractions, and crank through as many hand-written pages as possible in three or four days. I fax these pages back to Los Angeles, both for safety and to let my assistant type them up. This time, I faxed to an eFax account, which had the bonus of creating a digital backup in .pdf form.
I took a lot of photos, which you can see on Flickr. It wasn’t really location scouting — we’re not at that point yet. But since there’s already a director on board, it can give him some sense of the place.
One place had flies. A lot of flies.
Another reason for the trip: we had to have our house tented for termites. This is probably alien to readers in colder climates, but in Southern California, termites can become pervasive enough that you need to nuke the house. Generally, you do it when the house is sold (and thus empty), but we’re not moving anytime soon, so we had to bite the bullet. But it looked cool, like a Christo project.