Hollywood turned back the clock Thursday at the Chappy ferry landing, as Memorial Wharf became a movie set for the upcoming film about late Sen. Edward Kennedy and the 1969 car crash on Chappaquiddick that killed young campaign staffer Mary Jo Kopechne.

Memorial Wharf turned to 1969 thanks to Hollywood magic. — Graham Smith

Modern street signs were taken down around the ferry, replaced with 1960s-looking lettered signs. The crew bustled around a staging area next to the ferry house, where a few extras in period clothing waited for their scenes. After waiting in the harbor the Chappy ferry On Time II pulled into the slip with a vintage pickup truck full of fishing gear and actors Jason Clarke and Jim Gaffigan aboard.

Vintage cars were also parked in the lot at Memorial Wharf, including a replica of the dark Oldsmobile that Mr. Kennedy drove off the Dike Bridge on Chappaquiddick on July 18, 1969. Ms. Kopechne, his 28-year-old passenger, drowned; Mr. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and was given a two-month suspended sentence. The incident made international headlines and brought a degree of infamy to the small island off Edgartown.

Los Angeles-based Apex Entertainment began production on a film about the story earlier this year. The director is John Curran and the film is tentatively scheduled to be released in 2017.

Real-life Chappy ferry captain Rick Hamilton, right, portrays ferry captain in the film. — Sara Brown

Mr. Clarke, an Australian actor who starred in Zero Dark Thirty, portrays Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Gaffigan, a comedian and actor, is playing Kennedy friend and former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts Paul Markham.

Earlier this summer a location manager for the film requested permission from the town of Edgartown to halt traffic during filming on Dike Bridge Road and Daggett street. Selectmen turned down the road closure request but accepted a scaled-down proposal for one day of shooting that would not interrupt staging lines or require street closures.

The scene Thursday was a mix of business as usual for a post-Labor day Thursday on the Vineyard, Hollywood, and time travel. Edgartown police directed traffic and stopped bikers and passengers from entering the area when filming was taking place. Chappy ferry co-owner Peter Wells paced in a baseball cap and holding a walkie-talkie to negotiate real-life ferry trips with the ones staged for the big screen.

Jason Clarke stars as Ted Kennedy. — Vivian Ewing

Film equipment, a small cart loaded with a big bag of peanut M&Ms, a bowl of oranges, and other snacks, and monitors were set up behind police cones. Production workers brought out a wheelbarrow full of plants to place outside the Old Sculpin Gallery.

Earlier in the day, one onlooker said, the crew was filming at Dike Bridge. One of the props there included a 1969 New York Times edition featuring the moon landing.

A member of the crew asked a fisherman with a line in the water at Memorial Wharf to move out of the shoot — a request that was not well received — and later the end of the wharf’s upper level was cordoned off with yellow tape. A couple approached an Edgartown police officer working on the scene to ask where they could find an ice cream parlor, while another woman wandered up to ask where Main street was.

A steady crowd gathered at Memorial Wharf to take pictures and watch the action. Becca LaMarche was there to watch her father, Rick Hamilton, take a star turn as the Chappy ferry captain in the scene being filmed. It was a case of art imitating life; Mr. Hamilton is a modern day, real-life Chappy ferry captain, as is Ms. LaMarche.

Vintage cars on scene. — Graham Smith

Mr. Clarke strode onto the set wearing a mint green polo shirt and sky blue slacks. “Teddy Kennedy’s hair wasn’t that color,” an onlooker remarked.

Soon Mr. Gaffigan joined him and filming started on the ferry, with Mr. Hamilton steering the ferry from a spot out in the harbor into the slip. Chappy ferry deckhand Caleb Enos, taking a star turn as a 1969 deckhand in a yellow baseball cap, stood with Mr. Clarke and Mr. Gaffigan at the ferry’s bow. After the ferry docked Mr. Clarke and Mr. Gaffigan strode down Daggett street, past a pale yellow Jeepster staged in line, until someone yelled “cut!”

Meanwhile the On Time III continued to ferry Xfinity trucks and SUVs, bikers and passengers, back and forth from Chappy as the 1969 ferry prepared to head out again for another take.

More photos from filming.