The crowds that gather in Menemsha to watch the sunset will have the added company of a film crew come May.
At their meeting Tuesday, the Chilmark selectmen approved filming dates for the ABC Family reality TV show The Vineyard to film on the public beach. The filming will take place on May 11, 18, 23 and 30, and June 5 and 10 between 4 and 8 p.m. The beach will remain open to the public.
The production company, 25/7 Productions, originally requested two additional days in late June, but the selectmen said it was town policy not to permit filming past June 15 due to the busy summer season. The selectmen requested that filming take place on the right side of the beach in order not to impede public access, and also said that the crew cannot build any sort of sets on the beach. This is the first formal request the show has made to an Island town.
Selectman Bill Rossi expressed concern with “what kind of entourage they’re going to bring with them” and “the scene” it may cause, but agreed that filming prior to June 15 would be acceptable.
“After that date would be problematic,” he said. “On a positive note, it could help businesses in Menemsha in the early part of the season when they’re open and there’s not that much business going on.”
News came in February that The Vineyard, billed as a docu-drama show following the lives of a group of 18 to 24 year olds, would be filming on the Island. Cast members will be featured working at the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven; production crews held closed casting calls for the show on the Vineyard and in Boston in February. Last week Island town administrators learned that production and filming for the reality show will take place between May 5 and June 29. The show is set to premiere on the ABC Family channel on July 24.
In his letter to the Chilmark selectmen, production manager for the show Brett Blakeney said the shoots would include “‘walk and talk’ sunset conversations between no more than four of our cast members.” A crew of 15 people with three minivan vehicles will also be on the scene. The crew will use “small amounts of lights” powered by a small generator.
Selectman Warren Doty said he was concerned about the number of people involved.
“I know they think that’s a small presence, but it’s three vans and 15 people,” he said. “Our policy has been to allow parties and weddings and special events up until June 15, then reserve it for our summer season.”
“This is a group that promised their show would not look like the Jersey Shore,” Mr. Doty added. “Though I’ve never watched the Jersey Shore.”
In the end the selectmen unanimously approved the request with the amended dates.
The selectmen approved a subsequent film request from the History Channel, which will be in Menemsha harbor on May 2 and May 3 filming a segment for America Unearthed. The show, which follows a forensic geologist exploring hidden artifacts and history across the country, will film on charter captain Scott McDowell’s boat. The approval was also unanimous.