CANNON BEACH — Cameras rolled as actors Ariana DeBose (“Daphne”) and Matt Shingledecker (“Roger”) approached the cave.
“A little slower and more mysterious,” a voice called out.
Cast and crew filmed dramatic scenes alongside Hug Point’s waves and caves for the independent film “Seaside” on Monday.
The thriller, written and directed by Oregon native Sam Zalutsky, will be shot in areas between Arch Cape and Seaside until early May.
The coast’s natural landscape plays a major role in the film.
“The beach house was a huge part of the Roger character’s childhood,” producer Alyssa Roehrenbeck said. “He and his girlfriend move out here and it’s this contrast between the harsh elements, the coast and the rocky rugged cliffs and the waves, coming in contact with these characters and being a reflection of their own lives at the time.”
Zalutsky, a Portland native who now lives in New York City, knew he wanted to center his second feature film on the northern Oregon Coast, where he spent many childhood summers.
“There’s a lot of twists and turns in the story and I wanted it to be fun and dramatic, like the coast,” he said.
The day filming at Hug Point was “very intense, but really wonderful,” Zalutsky said. “I was having a great time even though I was worried about getting all of our shots.”
Zalutsky chose the cave as the site of the story’s climax while writing the script. Initially drawn to the area’s beauty and intensity, he later realized that it may be difficult to bring in cast, crew and equipment into a “tide-dependent” location.
Although getting in and out of the cave — separated from the rest of the beach by shallow water — proved to be a challenge, crew monitors kept an eye on the tide and successfully shot the scenes.
“Figuring out the tide schedules has been a huge consideration for filming at beaches,” Roehrenbeck said. “I’ve been here about eight times just trying to figure out at what exact time the waves will be out far enough that we can actually get around.”
The crew created ideal filming conditions by adding light to different parts of the cave, holding boom microphones above the actors to block the wind and pouring buckets of ocean water onto sand to get rid of unwanted footprints.
“It’s probably our busiest day,” production assistant Sara Coleman said. “This is the main stuff; the cave is central to the plot. Today’s the day they’re making sure everything goes right.”
Some beachgoers stopped to watch.
“We’re used to it,” Roehrenbeck said. “Whenever you set up a camera somewhere, people are going to ask.”
The city of Seaside has been “gracious hosts,” she added. In the next few weeks, the crew will film at Elk Flats Trailhead in Oswald West State Park, Funland Arcade and Seaside’s former Faith Lutheran Church, now owned by the city, at 1115 Broadway.
“I think one of the most interesting things about making the film is the small budget,” Roehrenbeck said, adding that local businesses have donated food and housing. “We’ve been able to stretch that and we have so many donations.”
Production designer Jade Harris, who doubles as wardrobe designer due to the film’s budget, made sure actors wore clothes and shoes that could withstand rainy weather while being on the beach. Harris works with an Oregon Coast color scheme of teal, blue and gray.
“If our director sees a hint of red anywhere, he freaks out,” she said. “It’s an ongoing joke now. I’ve snuck burgundy in.”
Known for 2007’s “You Belong to Me,” Zalutsky began dreaming about “Seaside” and writing the script four to five years ago.
“I was inspired by a lot of other people doing low-budget features,” he said.
The location was also a way to use his resources — his family’s beach house in Arch Cape, where some scenes will be filmed — to tell a story in an “intense location” with a limited budget.
“I just love the directing process and being able to showcase this beautiful, relaxing part of the world,” Zalutsky said. “It’s a really special place. We’ve been getting lots of help from the people of Seaside and Cannon Beach.”
The small crew includes the director, assistant director, producer, production designer, director of photography, assistant cameras, makeup artist, lighting technician, production assistant and others.
“When you’re working that hard in that many days very intensely, you need a good crew,” Zalutsky said. “Luckily, everyone is great so far and we’re having a really great time.”