MACHIAS – Maine pulled out all the stops to have a movie starring Daniel Day Lewis filmed in Washington County, but the production crew opted to take the project to Canada’s Prince Edward Island instead.

With the long Memorial Day weekend coming on, Blue Magic Pictures Inc. decided it didn’t have enough time to complete the set for “Rose and the Snake” before the actors arrived in mid-July, said Lea Girardin, director of the Maine Film Office.

Girardin said the New York-based independent film company originally planned to shoot the movie on Prince Edward Island, but became concerned about the SARS outbreak in Canada.

“They were going to get equipment from Toronto and decided they didn’t want to do that because of SARS,” Girardin said Friday. “They called us a week and a half ago and asked about a place in Maine.”

“Rose and the Snake” is being directed by Rebecca Miller, who wrote the script. It is the story of a father and his 16-year-old daughter, Rose, who live in an abandoned commune on an island off the northwest coast of Canada. Besides Lewis, the cast includes Catherine Keener, Camilla Bell, Paul Dano and Beau Bridges.

The Maine Film Office was excited about the film being shot in Maine, Girardin said. Diana Norwood, a site locator from Brunswick, found a “spectacular location” in Trescott Township, which lies between Cutler and Lubec and is known for its rock-bound coast and views of the sea cliffs on Grand Manan Island.

“Rebecca Miller came over from Ireland and thought it was breathtaking,” Girardin said.

With filming a little more than six weeks away, there was no time to spare in finalizing the agreement on the use of the site, she said.

“The governor was on line and ready to do what he could,” Girardin said. “Whatever stop we could pull, we pulled.”

The Maine Land Use Regulation Commission, which has jurisdiction over Trescott Township, trimmed the permitting process from weeks to days and helped Blue Magic Pictures get the necessary wetland permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, Girardin said. Meanwhile, the completion of a contract with the landowner was put on a fast track.

A Blue Magic production crew based in Machias began scouting for housing for 65 to 70 cast members and crew, hanging signs in local laundromats and talking to rental agencies. All of that came to a halt Thursday morning, Girardin said.

The construction crew was worried about the time it would take to improve a road going into the site and construct the set – particularly given the long holiday weekend, she said.

After much discussion between the parties, Blue Magic Pictures left Washington County for Prince Edward Island and a site that didn’t require much construction.

“It is so sad to lose this,” Girardin said. “Think of the influx into Washington County, and everyone who would see that coastline.”

AP-ES-05-26-03 1310EDT

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