HANCOCK — When Doug Bost decided to tell a ghost story, he was sure of two things: it had to be filmed on the Maine coast, and he wanted to find as many local crew members as possible.
Bost, who grew up in Orono but now lives in New York City, was visiting Mount Desert Island with his wife and daughter a few years back when a ghost story a friend had told him came to mind. He realized then that coastal Hancock County, a place with which he was very familiar from family trips, would be the ideal setting for “The Bride in the Box.” This part of Maine isn’t seen much in movies, Bost said, and he wanted to share that beauty on screen with a larger audience.
Most of the filming took place in Hancock in an old house that the writer and director called “wonderful” because it had a real summer cottage feel, likely because it hasn’t been remodeled in decades. Filming also took place at 1A Relics in Ellsworth, in Winter Harbor, at Little Tunk Pond in Sullivan and at the Tidal Falls Preserve in Hancock.
Another location was the Galley by the Bridge in Sullivan, which also provided catering services. The people there were very welcoming and nice, said Bost, as were the folks at Gull Rock Pottery in Hancock and the Frenchman Bay Conservancy.
In “The Bride in the Box,” a husband, wife and their daughter go on vacation, but the couple is so caught up in their own conflicts that they don’t realize their daughter has come under the influence of a ghost from a local legend.
The husband and wife are played by Victor Verhaeghe and Carolyn Baeumler, Bost’s real-life wife. The daughter is played by Baumler and Bost’s daughter, Acadia, yes, named after the national park they clearly love.
Other cast members from the New York area are Tammy Faye Starlite, who plays Muriel, and Harold Robinson as George.
Though the cast and most of the crew of about 20 came from the New York area, Bost wanted to hire crew from Maine if possible. Karen Carberry Warhola of the Maine Film Office helped him do just that. The crew of “The Bride in the Box” was mainly from New York, but several Mainers—sound mixers Michael Hambrock and Harper Mattraw, grip Owen Freeman and designer Brent Hutchins—joined the team. Two local actors, Faith Erhardt and Stephanie Erb, were part of the cast. But it was a stroke of luck that brought Sean Schweizer, a 17-year-old student at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, on board as a production assistant intern.
Teke Wiggin, who manages the Blue Hill Conference Center, GSA’s new summertime venture that provided accommodations for the crew, knew Bost needed a production assistant. Head of School Tim Seeley announced the opportunity to the student body, and Schweizer was among those who expressed an interest.
After a flurry of emails, the deal was sealed. The filmmaker had his intern, and the intern had his big chance “to see how things really work on a professional level,” Schweizer said in an email.
“The experience was great for me,” he said. Because the production was on the smaller side, Schweizer did “a little bit of everything, from set dressing to slating, running waters upstairs” and helping “the grip guys.” He even had a chance to create a spooky effect in front of the camera.
Schweizer met “a slew of interesting characters” on the set, which made for an “unforgettable experience,” he said. “I mean, hey, it’s the first feature-length film I’ve worked on. There’s no way I’m forgetting that.”
So how impressed was Bost? Very. “Sean was game for anything,” said the writer-director, who was happy to have Schweizer on the team and to encourage the aspiring filmmaker, who is already 40 pages into a screenplay that he hopes to finish writing by the end of summer.
Filming in Maine wrapped up on July 27. After another month of shooting in New York City and postproduction, the film should be ready by next summer, Bost said. They plan to enter “The Bride in the Box” into film festivals, like Tribeca and Sundance, with the aim of attracting a distributor. They may even enter the film into the Maine International Film Festival, which would give audiences here a chance to see the film sooner.
When asked what he hopes audiences will take from the movie, yes, Bost said, he wants them to get a scare out of it. But this ghost story also raises questions about parenting and how much freedom to give children, about when we need to protect our children from the really scary things in life and when we need to give them the freedom to experience things for themselves.