This Saturday, March 1, the Woods Hole Film Festival‘s “Dinner & a Movie” screening series features the film The Golden Scallop, a mockumentary made by and about Cape Cod people. This past summer, I interviewed Cape Cod’s own director Joseph Laraja about the film for a feature in Provincetown Magazine. Here is that article reprinted below, which you can also find on the Magazine’s website here.
It’s not often that films are shot on Cape Cod. Rarer still are those that actually deal with some aspect of the reality of living here, as opposed to the fantasy. This past June, The Provincetown International Film Festival brought us one such film, By Way of Home, which beautifully tackled the problem of youth feeling stuck here. That dark reality is being screened for audiences at the Woods Hole Film Festival this year, but another film screening there looks at the more comic side of life on the Cape.
The Golden Scallop was shot on the Cape, largely in Wellfleet, a town that has its fair share of fried clam shacks, particularly along Route 6. Additional footage was also shot in Brewster and Orleans. The premise of the film is that every year for the past 40 years, there has been a Golden Scallop Competition for the best fried fish on the Cape. Three establishments enter the competition: The Caped Cod, a restaurant owned by a husband and wife who seem more focused on customer service offered by young girls in skimpy uniforms than they are in their food; The Happy Hooker, whose owner is a previous champion but now relies on his beleaguered daughter and the cook who’s secretly in love with her to compete; and a pair of brothers who sell their fried seafood out of a parking lot. It is shot in the mockumentary style of The Office or any one of Christopher Guest’s films (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, etc.)
“We’re definitely not poking fun at, but rather celebrating,” director Joseph Laraja says when asked if the characters in the film are a response to any behind-the-scenes experiences he’s had at Cape restaurants. “It’s definitely an inspiration, but not any exact characters,” he says, adding that all three filmmakers worked at a lot of places and enjoyed their work for the most part. He even names one restaurant he particularly enjoyed working at, The Friendly Fisherman in Eastham, where he says you can still get the best lobster roll on the Cape.
“All summer jobs leave a lasting impression because of all the tourists that come to the Cape,” Laraja says. But from his teenage years on he always wanted to make movies. He even worked for a time at one the Cape’s very few production companies, Paraclete Video Productions in Brewster.
The cast and crew are largely made up of up and comers, anchored by veteran character actor James Cosmo who starred in Trainspotting, Narnia, Braveheart, and numerous other films and television programs.
Laraja directed The Golden Scallop with two fellow Cape Codders, Michael Boisvert (producer) and Kevin Harrigan (writer) under the auspices of their production company Grandview Productions. All three had their fair share of experiences working in restaurants and other tourist-oriented businesses while growing up here. And while the Cape may not exactly be Hollywood East, the production found a swell of support here, raising almost their entire budget locally.
This is not the trio’s first foray into filmmaking, although it is their first feature. At the 2010 Provincetown International Film Festival, their short film Come on Down, about the employees of a bait and tackle shop, won the HBO Audience Award. Laraja says they are continuing to work together in Los Angeles and while their next project is not specifically set on the Cape, they are considering shooting it here because of the incredible support of the Cape Cod community.
“We’re really proud of this, our first feature,” Laraja says. “We couldn’t have done it without all the support from home, from the people of Cape Cod.”
For screening details, visit the Woods Hole Film Festival or check out its entry in the Upcoming Events on the right side of this page.