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Filming of Manchester By The Sea

Claudia's dad, Ed, is a commercial fisherman based out of Gloucester, MA. Because of his profession and connection to the waterfront, he had often been asked to participate in various movies, TV shows and commercials, but had always declined. In the spring of 2015, Ed was asked by a film crew if he would consider letting them use his boat for a new movie being filmed in the area. He initially said "probably not", but the crew was persistent and continued to reach out to him. Our daughter Annika and I found out about the film request and pleaded with Ed to do the movie. We wanted to watch how the filming was done, maybe meet some actors, and hopefully see our boat in a movie. Ed agreed, mostly just to stop us from pleading; little did we know the impact this movie would have!

We found out the movie was going to have our home town name as the title and it was about a plumber taking over guardianship of his nephew after his brother died, but we didn't know much more. Ed ended up helping the costume crew, he gave them old work clothes which were used in the bar scenes and on the boat, and they consulted with them on how to make the clothing look legitimate for working on an engine or on a fishing boat. Ed drove the boat, during the water scenes, hidden way on the inside helm. I asked Ed to see if the Director would be willing to keep Claudia's name on the boat, sp her name would always be in the 'lights',  but he didn't feel comfortable asking.  He didn't say anything to the Director, we just wanted and hoped her name would remain on the bow of the boat.

When I went to the premier and saw in the opening scene that "CLAUDIA MARIE" was plastered across the screen I was stunned! I couldn't believe it and I was elated! I was so happy that our daughter's name would be seen by everyone watching the movie! Parents love to talk about their children, brag about our their accomplishments, their manners, their achievements; whatever is important to them as a family. But, once a child has passed, that is no longer possible and worse, people are fearful of talking about that child in fear of upsetting the parents. Most bereaved parents actually want to talk about their child who has passed, they want others to remember them, talk about them and for them never to be forgotten. Needless to say, I was SO HAPPY the Director never changed the name on the boat - something that could have easily been done, but wasn't. 

There are so many events throughout the movie that parallel our lives - which is why I know Claudia had an integral part in the creation of this movie. There is no other explanation. 

Ed has always felt most connected to Claudia while on the ocean. There is no mistake this movie revolves around the boat and the ocean. Our son Cam played for the Viking Ice Hockey team for 5 years and this team is highlighted in the movie. It is filmed at an ice rink where our family spent countless hours over many, many years. It was like our second home. Ice hockey is a huge part of our family. For almost 20 years, Ed built a substantial rink in our backyard. Our children have all played and they continued to play in college. There is a baby in the movie that looks so similar to Claudia before she had a head of blonde curls. The movie features the Beverly Hospital, Manchester EMT's, and our high school. On the back of the boat, a high flyer had the name 'Brittannika' on it, which is from Ed's other commercial boat, and is the combination of our other two daughter's names, Brittany and Annika. These things are normally erased during editing.  At the end of the movie there is a graveyard scene and the created gravestone shows, Claudia Marie 2001.  This is the year our daughter passed. The movie is using the name as the boat owner's mother's name, but the death year is the same as our Claudia's year - that's just crazy! I spoke to the Director after the premier to thank him for not changing the name and he had NO IDEA of our personal story and was blown away when I told him.  The synchronicities are incredible. Because I know what Claudia is capable of from the other side, I'm confident this movie will win many awards and hopefully will include an Oscar including Best Director and Best Actor/Actress!

Below are photos taken during filming one day in Manchester with Actors Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, CJ Wilson, Anna Baryshnikov and Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan.

Thanks for reading.

Julie Smith

December 2016

Annika, Casey Affleck, Julie

Annika, Casey Affleck

Anna Baryshnikov, Annika, Lucas Hedges & Julie

CJ Wilson & Annika

Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan (blue jkt), Anna Baryshnikov (green jkt), Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges and CJ Wilson.

Actors, Director and film crew heading out for filming.

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