The Beach



How many times I heard that during the two months we prepped THE RIGHT REGRETS. But I wasn’t sure the world of independent filmmaking I was becoming involved in was the real world of independent filmmaking. Two and a half years ago when Marlyn completed her first draft of THE RIGHT REGRETS, she contacted Brandon Fraley and asked for assistance in assembling a group of production people to help her. Brandon, living in San Francisco, did that, and a small group of compliant San Franciscans laid out the plans and budget to film her project on the east coast. Two and a half years later, not having raised the amount of money it would cost to film in the east, Marlyn changed course and decided the story worked just as well filmed in the west. But as plans proceeded to film in the spring of 2013, there were other changes that occurred. Her production manager, who would remain in charge, had moved to Washington D.C. The first assistant director, who was to assume many of the local duties of the production manager, left the project to accept more financially relevant employment elsewhere. And when I entered the project in February, everything moved south to the Monterey Peninsula. All of these changes affected what occurred during the ensuing two months. A major problem facing the production staff was to find the several locations required to shoot our film. The locations were:

Exterior Charles home (in Vancouver in the script)

Interior Charles home (in Vancouver in the script)

Interior Lily’s House: Living room and bedroom (in Monterey in the script)

Porch of Lily’s duplex home (in Monterey in the script)

Restaurant (in Vancouver in the script)

Book Fair (in Monterey in the script)

Lighthouse (in Oregon in the script)

Beach (in Monterey in the script)

Exterior mountain cabin (in Oregon in the script)

Interior mountain cabin (in Oregon in the script)

Lake (in Oregon in the script)

Highways (in Monterey and Oregon in the script)

Finding these locations on the Monterey Peninsula was a task that really should have been assigned to a location manager familiar with the area. The one local qualified person approached, used to dealing with Hollywood budgets, asked for $650.00 a day for his services. The budget for THE RIGHT REGRETS, which I affectionately called a “frayed shoestring budget”, did not allow for that, and so our staff in San Francisco set about their searches. I must say in advance, I am not denigrating the work of our production staff. In fact my intent is to point out in advance the difficulties they faced, and as I hope our final film will prove, the remarkable results they achieved. I again refer back to my mantra from Frayne Williams at the Pasadena Playhouse, “Great art is a sublimation of limitations.”

In addition to the five major speaking roles, there was another item to be cast: Charles’ automobile. In her original script, Marlyn had called for a BMW. During the time we were in negotiations with Michael York, he had suggested that we recast the car with an aged Jaguar. Since we figured Michael owned an aged Jaguar and would be comfortable driving his own car, we enthusiastically changed the script; the BMW was now an aged Jaguar. But when Michael eventually declined the role, we were faced with the problem of recasting Charles’ car in addition to casting Charles. Marlyn, in her usual gregarious manner, was discussing our automotive need one day with the proprietor of a Carmel card shop. He took her out of the shop and there parked at the curb was a stunning black Mini Cooper, which he was more than willing to loan her for the film. The car was scheduled to be involved in four of the nine days of filming, and he graciously included his services to deliver the car to our locations. But a couple of days later tragedy struck; a major illness to an immediate member of his family made his personal participation doubtful. The arrival of Maxwell Caulfield into the cast also affected the automobile situation. The Mini Cooper was just too glitzy. Leave us face it – Maxwell Caulfield at 53 is still a hell of a hunk and his goal and ours was to subdue that quality, so that his character of Charles would not overwhelmingly appear to be a sexual predator. All of this time I knew that I had the solution parked in my garage, but I was resistant to the chore of having to deliver it to the four locations, all of them distant, where it would be appearing. But I eventually succumbed, and Marlyn’s original BMW, which had become an aged Jaguar and then a black Mini Cooper, now finally was going to be a 1991 Green Range Rover.

I have in the previous post, THE RIGHT REGRETS: CASTING, written of the difficulties faced in securing the permit to film at the Big Sur Lighthouse. That location was only half of the first day’s work. There was a charming scene between Marlyn and Maxwell strolling on a beach. Although I knew of Garripata Beach, which was a few miles north of the lighthouse, I had never been there. Securing the permit to film at that public beach was included in the negotiations for the lighthouse permit. I did not scout the beach until the day we finally were scheduled to scout the lighthouse.

Having completed the Big Sur Lighthouse sequence by lunchtime, the cast and crew were fed at the lighthouse and then moved north to Garripata Beach.


A major problem when filming on a beach is the constant roar of the surf and the possible factor of wind, both of which are detrimental to the recording of dialogue. I had my first experience with that situation in 1963 when I filmed IN THE CLOSING OF A TRUNK, an episode of ROUTE 66, on a beach in Corpus Christi, Texas. You can read about that on my post for that film. But that production had the equipment and personnel provided by a major Hollywood studio. I am amused now when I look at the Crew List issued at the beginning of production on THE RIGHT REGRETS. Assigned to Sound were Nick Abasolo as Sound Mixer and Sedric Pieretti as Boom Operator with a (Maybe) after the second man’s name. (Maybe) never materialized. The remarkable Mr. Abasolo became our one-man sound department, as he attached his digital recorder to his belt, held his arms held high over his head and functioned as boom man. I must add he also donated the use of his sound equipment to the company without charge.


I needed just five setups to complete the sequence. For the wider shots I knew the surf and wind would overpower Nick’s sound track, and we would deal with that after filming was wrapped.


For the closer shots of Marlyn and Maxwell, a large screen was used both to muffle the sound of the surf and to act photographically as a reflector.

After we had secured our five filmed setups, a sheltered spot on the beach was found, and Marlyn and Maxwell did what amounted to a radio recording of the scene we had just filmed.


It was our improvised version of the looping stage in the Hollywood studios, and those sound tracks would be available in postproduction if the filmed sound tracks proved to be unusable.

That brought to a close our fist day’s filming.

The journey continues

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9 Responses to The Beach

  1. Larry Wilde says:

    Loved every minute. You’ve got a big hit on your hands.

    • Marlyn Mason says:

      Larry…not wanting to interfere in Ralph’s telling of the ‘making of THE RIGHT REGRETS, I will just say THANK YOU for recommending to him that we try the Carmel Community center as a location for the “BOOK FAIR” scene. While they were booked (and we were getting a bit desperate) they did make a fantastic suggestion which I will leave Ralph to tell about. Talk about ‘serendipity’…
      Love to you and Mary…see you on my next return to Carmel!!

  2. Sir_Arthur says:

    Thank You Sir for this wonderful update on the film! I look forward to each installment as we await the finished production! I talk often with Marlyn and she has high praise for you as a director and loves you as a cherished friend. From all I have seen and read about this movie I believe that it will be very well received and become a hug hit! Hopefully Sir, I will have an opportunity to meet you personally in the near future.

  3. Marlyn Mason says:

    This 2nd Chapter is SENSATIONAL and 2 thumbs up!!!! Such fun to relive the experience. Here’s a small correction:
    At your suggestion I gave script to Camerman Brandon Fraley not 2 1/2 years ago but one year and 5 months ago (had you not I’d still be sitting on it, I think) …Brandon read it (“I never read a script in one sitting but I couldn’t put this one down”)….and then he gave it to Production Manager Grant Ellis who immediately wanted to meet with me..which we did, New Year’s Day 2012. Grant said “We HAVE to make this movie.!!You raise the money, we’ll do the rest”. At the time of our agreement I had no idea the twists and turns THE RIGHT REGRETS was going to take and today the lively journey continues, around every curve another wonderful surprise.

    Even with the ‘surround-sound’ noise of the surf and wind it’s still a delight to see the video pieces; please continue sharing them. I can’t speak for Maxwell but I laugh when I see how non-chalant we both stroll along the beach when, in truth, we’re getting wind-whacked pretty good (see how the hem of my skirt lashes at my flag-pole legs)…and neither of us lost our balance…nor our hats!!!

  4. GMJ says:

    Congratulations to you (and to Marlyn Mason and the production crew) on this new project. Also, thank you for responding to my past inquiries.
    Good luck to you, everyone else involved in this project.

  5. Mike and Lindy says:

    Enjoyed the 2nd episode every bit as the first! Am eagerly awaiting for more to be divulged on The Right Regrets! Thanks Ralph for putting this all together so that those of us who were not there, are still able to imagine all that went into the filming process.

    Lindy ;))

  6. Michael Johnson says:

    Ralph is living proof that by working and playing with people whom you care about in a pursuit which gives pleasure can ultimately produce rewards which goes towards helping diminish the inescapable negative aspects of the aging process. May “The Right Regrets” be a success for all of its participants, and that the title serve us well when reflecting upon our own lifetime endeavours.

  7. John Dayton says:

    For fear of repeating a previous post…it’s worth it: “If you’ve not worked with Ralph, you’ve never really worked with a director…” And I’ve lost count of the umber of shows we worked on together.

    He once said CBS called him the “…kid with the storm cloud over his head”…well, he can get feisty, but when this film is finally complete, I bet dollars to donuts he will be the “…kid with the halo over his head.”

    I’m praying for every award on the planet, just reading the blog is thrilling. I hope to get invited to a screening (hint, hint Marlyn).

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