Movie set magic revisits the Tiny Town
A celebration like this is only “scene” where movie set magic happens. Fans of the 1997 film, “I Know What You Did Last Summer” flocked to Harrell’s Department Store in Burgaw, NC on July 4th weekend. They came to experience the thrill of watching the movie right in the location of Sarah Michelle Gellar‘s famous chase scene. What they found was a close approximation of the actual set, plus a whole lot more.
Kenny Caperton of Myers House NC-On Set Cinema produced the movie screening event to the delight of the guests who came from as far away as California. The settings for the film action have changed very slightly in the 20 years since filming, which pleased the crowd to no end. Mannequins draped in spooky plastic, the second-story window that “Helen Shivers” jumps from, the hand-cranked elevator and the creepy bathroom all remain in place.
Making the Magic happen again
Once you start conjuring magic, it begins to take on a life of its own. Such is the case when Harrell’s was transformed back into Shivers Department Store. The organizers chose the date for the screening based on the action taking place around July 4th. Bunting, American flags and holiday sale signs naturally fit the decor. Easy to find and put in place. But what’s this? The actual set decorations from the film are in the attic, untouched for 20 years! We’ll use those too.
Encouraged by that success, we begin a search for other treasures and come up with a real gem. A large “Shiver’s” sign rests in a forgotten corner of the warehouse. It’s in perfect shape and fits under the front awning perfectly too.
Movie set Shiver's sign
Now we need more mannequins to duplicate a pivotal scene. At the last minute we locate them–in Raleigh, 2 hours away. A quick call to Kenny Caperton, who is driving right by there, gets us a timely delivery. They became the highlight of the evening once draped in filmy plastic. Just a little more magic!
On Set mannequins
Movie Magic is contagious
The guests are the ones who made the night especially magical. Some arrived in costume and recreated every detail of the chase scene throughout the store. One brought cupcakes decorated with hooks. All bought the special event T-shirts. Watching the film, they all reacted as though it was their first time viewing it, jumping and gasping and laughing at all the right moments. They seemed glad to be surrounded by fellow enthusiasts of the genre and of this particular film.
The event also drew in some of the people who made the magic happen in the first place. James Ferrell, the decorator, shared his experience of gathering the set dressing. Everything from giant parade floats to small perfume bottles are his responsibility. Rasool J’han, who plays “Deb”, Jennifer Love Hewitt‘s roommate, signed autographs and told a story or two of her own. She came from Raleigh to share in the fun.
More Magic to come
The success of this experiment in bringing a favorite film back to life encourages us to keep it up. Burgaw’s rich film history will come alive again when we tap into the magic and fascination it creates. Watch for more events like this in the near future.