The Restaurant


A restaurant was the location for our sixth and final day of filming before having a day off.  Since the page count for that location was a mere 1 7/8 pages, the original schedule issued two months earlier allocated just half a day for its filming. That was as unrealistic as the entire schedule, which had determined THE RIGHT REGRETS would be filmed in 6 days. Before going into the details of filming on that sixth day in a restaurant, let me walk you through our search to find that restaurant. Once she had decided THE RIGHT REGRETS would be filmed on the Monterey Peninsula, Marlyn Mason had contacted Karen Nordstrand of the Monterey Film Commission. I had never met Miss Nordstrand, although I was very aware of the Film Commision because of my friend Richard Tyler’s many years of involvement with it. One morning Marlyn and I drove over to their offices on Lighthouse Boulevard in New Monterey and met with Karen. Although she would not be able to be involved directly with our production, having read the script she proved invaluable in the advice she was able to offer. For our restaurant she suggested we check out Toastie’s in Pacific Grove, so Marlyn and I hopped in her Volvo and continued down Lighthouse Avenue into Pacific Grove where we found the restaurant. It was a charmer, so out came my iPhone for some photo documentation.






I was intrigued. I saw the interesting possibilities for staging the two sequences set in the restaurant. Marlyn and I had lunch, but left without any overtures about securing the site. We immediately notified our staff to secure the restaurant for our location. Their first report was that the restaurant was open till 4:00 pm every day except Sunday, when they closed at 2:00 pm. However they were able to do nothing beyond obtaining that information because Teresa, the owner of Toastie’s was away until the following week. I decided the earlier closing time on Sunday made that day our obvious choice. The following week, when Teresa returned, she was contacted, and we were informed we could film there on a Sunday, but we would not be able to enter the restaurant until 4:00 pm, giving the staff time to clean up, and we would have to be finished by 9:00 pm. That gave me pause. Although the page count was a limited 1 7/8 pages, I knew it was going to take 18 setups to complete the day’s work, and that 7 of those setups involved a view of the exterior, which meant they would have to be completed before we lost the light. Sunset in California in early April was 7:30 pm. Steve Rosales, in charge of the location search, then sent me a photo of a restaurant in San Juan Batista that he said was film-friendly and could be ours for the asking. The fact that San Juan Batista was 35 miles from Carmel didn’t bother me. The photos he sent did.



The restaurant didn’t have the quaint charm of Toastie’s. It didn’t seem like the place where two professorial rare book dealers would meet weekly. Some how the problems at Toastie’s were going to have to be met and solved, beginning with the fact that the Sunday we would be filming was Easter Sunday. Normally we would take that holiday off and film our final four days starting on Monday, but we had a conflicting situation. We had a request from Maxwell Caulfield’s manager. Maxwelll had been offered a role on the television show, NCIS that would film on Monday, April 8. Would it be possible to adjust our shooting schedule so he could accept? It certainly was. We would shoot on Sunday and rest on Monday.

Easter Sunday, April 8, our company began assembling at the Pacific Grove location at 2:00 pm, in anticipation of entering the restaurant at 4:00 pm. I don’t know who arranged it, but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the crew starting to take equipment into the restaurant shortly thereafter. So Brandon and I quickly set up the camera and with our three actors got our first shot of them entering the restaurant.

We then moved into the restaurant where production designer Lisa Lupo was at work adding subtle touches to enhance the charm of the place, and Brandon began lighting our first setup. I chose to seat our two professorial gentlemen at a table by a window, and so began our race against time. There were 6 setups involving the windows that needed to be completed before daylight departed …

… at which time Maxwell would also depart. He would drive that evening to his home in Ojai and report the following morning to the set of NCIS. The actor at the table with Maxwell is my dear friend, Jack Stauffer, whom I have known for over forty years. In that short clip you have seen most of the words Jack had to speak in his role of Abbott Harrington. I had qualms about asking him to play Abbott. Jack had acted many times for me in Hollywood in major roles; he had starred in all three of the stage productions I had directed in Carmel, and a couple of years ago I went up to Antioch to see Jack give a breathtaking performance as Willy Loman in a production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN. Jack’s response to my request that he play this minuscule role was an immediate affirmative, and to complete the picture he donated the stipend he was paid to Marlyn as a further contribution to our project.

The waitress is Jeanette O’Connor, who was a major factor in the creation of our production of THE RIGHT REGRETS. Marlyn and Jeanette have known each other since grade school days. It was through Jeanette that we secured Maxwell for the role of Charles (you can read that whole story in my post THE RIGHT REGRETS: CASTING). Because of her aid, Marlyn wanted to repay her in some way. When she asked Jeanette what she would like, Jeanette suggested an overnight visit to Carmel. I then suggested that the visit be accompanied by the role of Jolie, the waitress in our story. Jeanette leapt at the offer, and I ended up with another small role being performed by solid pro.

I was determined to have my nephew Julien in the movie, and the only sequence where I could use him was in the restaurant. There were complications. Julien was scheduled to leave after we completed filming on Sunday, as his school started after the Easter break the following day. When Maxwell heard that Lisa would have to drive Julien back to Los Angeles on Monday, her day off, he offered to drive Julien to Ojai, where Julien’s father could meet and pick him up that night. That meant Maxwell leaving later, but he had no problem with that, so Uncle Ralph got to direct his nephew …


… mama Lisa and the hairdresser prepared him …


… David Potigian’s ever-present camera recorded the event …

… and Julien had his first movie close-up, which is in the final film …

… after which he sadly bid all of his newfound friends on the crew goodbye. He really didn’t want to leave. I was told he cried.

We ended up working past the original curfew of 9:00 and with no complaint from management. Teresa was not only there with us to the end, she sat at one of the tables as background. One of the staff waitresses stayed on and appeared as a waitress. We finally wrapped at 10:30 pm. It was a wearisome day, actually much more fatiguing than our first day in Big Sur when we filmed the Lighthouse, Garripata Beach and two sequences in a moving vehicle on Highway 1. We had filmed our scheduled 1 7/8 pages; we had filmed two minutes and forty seconds of our thirty-five minute film. And if what we filmed seems inconsequential, I assure you it was not. Those eighteen setups spliced, together were what launched our story into orbit and retrieved it at the other end to proceed to its finale.

I looked forward to the day off on Monday, after which we would reassemble to complete filming our final three days.

The journey continues


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6 Responses to The Restaurant




  2. lisal Lupo says:

    OHHHHH…. What a awesome re-counting!!.. Such a proud Mama!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you!!!!!!

  3. detectivetom says:

    Looking forward to the finished product. Thanks again for the insight!

  4. Marlyn Mason says:

    I miss TOASTIES! It’s cozy, homey feeling reflects the warmth of Theresa, TOASTIES welcoming and generous owner. She serves up the best toasted Tuna sandwich, ever!

    The first time Ralph and I checked out the little restaurant is a special memory. No sooner did we sit down and I could see him go into his Director’s world. If his brain had wheels I’d have heard them cranking. The movement of his eyes told me exactly what he was imagining; Lily’s entrance; where Abbott would sit to look as she passes; which area Lily would choose in juxtaposition to Charles and Abbott; at one point rising and going to where I would be sitting several weeks later; pointing both index/middle fingers of both hands making the Vsign, working out the shots. A few people watched and surely wondered what he was doing. The creative process never ceases to amaze me and to watch someone with the genius of Ralph visualize a scene, his head moving slowly for every imagined shot and every movement of the camera and his eyes totally focused on the scene in his head is just wondrous to behold. For weeks, our computers side by side, I had watched him work from his scriptbinder, the dialogue pages marked with lines and symbols, the facing page with more of the same. It’s called ‘doing your homework’, which many directors don’t do. Before I had even arrived in early February to work on the script he had most of the movie planned out. Like the great John Ford, Ralph visualized THE RIGHT REGRETS. That first day when he opened the script to begin cutting and rewriting I asked “So, how does it feel”? referring to his 26 years away from the business. “Like I never left”. That genius talking.

  5. Bernie Jenkin says:

    A delight – I cannot wait to see the whole movie – Ralph -your description of events made me feel as if I was a fly on the wall-but in a restaurant? perhaps not such a great turn of phrase

    Marlyn was right having you direct – you have a winner I’m sure x

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