Hollywood Frippin’ It
Anyone who has ever visited the Low-Country and specifically the area around Fripp can attest to its natural beauty and landscape. While it normally attracts beach goers and lovers of all things sand and sea it also attracts another type of person. The filmmaker looking for the perfect setting and backdrop for the next blockbuster in Hollywood. Some of these films have clear Beaufort landmarks in their scenes, while others it may be less clear that Beaufort and Fripp are the location. With the Beaufort Film Festival coming up next week we felt it was worth sharing a few of the most memorable and well documented instances of Beaufort and Fripp’s place in Hollywood.
This is one of those movies that just about everyone has seen and has given us phrases such as “Life is like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you’re gonna get” and for whatever reason my personal favorite “Run Forrest, Run!”. The movie took place in Alabama, but most of the scenes portraying Alabama were actually filmed in Beaufort and on Fripp. To this day you can go into places like Gay Seafood or The Fripp Island Volunteer Fire Department and see a picture of a smiling young Tom Hanks from when he visited hanging up. While Hanks was already well known for his roles in “Big” and “Sleepless in Seattle”, no one really knew or expected Forrest Gump to become the classic that it did. Eventually it went on to win the Academy Award for best picture and best director for Robert Zemeckis.
Some of the more prominent scenes filmed in Beaufort are the scene when Forrest goes on a run and is interviewed by reporters crossing over the downtown Woods Memorial bridge, shrimp boat scenes from Gay Seafood, and the Vietnam scenes. The Vietnam Scenes in particular are filmed on Fripp and with some computer simulations made to look like the mountains of Vietnam. Residents of Fripp during this time were told to expect “simulated gunfire” and “explosions” to make the battle scene. The volunteer fire department was on scene during the filming of simulated napalm scenes and had to battle a fire at one point that almost got out of control.
Another famous moment from the movie is scenes in which Forrest is trying his hand at shrimping. The boat used for those scenes was actually a boat called Miss Sherri, but of course goes by Jenny in the movie. Many of the scenes involving the boat were filmed in and around Hunting, Fripp, and Port Royal Landing. Interestingly enough if you remember the scene in which Forrest jumps from the boat to greet Lt. Dan in which it crashes, it actually caused it to begin to sink. Luckily they were able to fix it in time for it to finish the movie and gain a place in Hollywood forever.
Many other scenes are filmed nearby in Varnville, (West of Beaufort) Charleston, and of course the real and movie setting of Savannah as the place were Forrest tells strangers his story. If you ask, most everyone on Fripp during this time has a story to tell about the filming of Forrest Gump and meeting Tom Hanks.
Prince of Tides
Many will remember Nick Nolte’s performance as Tom Wingo in Prince of Tides. Fittingly Pat Conroy wrote the book it was based on and drew inspiration from Fripp itself as the initial setting of the story. Pat himself owned a house on Fripp for many years that is now for sale. Other than the obvious reasons for making Fripp the setting of the movie, many attributed its beautiful beach as a reason for doing so. The crew wanted a beach that looked like everyone’s idea of what a beach should look like and with Fripp’s long sandy beach and great width at low tide it was the perfect match. The shrimp boat used for a few of the scenes in the movie can actually still be found at Gay Seafood on St. Helena, but you might want to hurry if you want to get a glimpse of it. It has been in disrepair for many years and is hardly even still in boat form.
The Jungle Book (1994)
Many residents from the early nineties can remember the filming of The Jungle Book because of the abundance of exotic animals brought to the island during this time. From elephants to tigers it was necessary to bring in these live animals to create the appearance that Fripp was actually deep in the jungle in India.
Part of what would eventually become the Ocean Creek Course was the setting for the jungle scenes and of course the whole area looked much different back then. In fact William S. Murray III who worked on the film says “they chose to shoot on Fripp Island because we had permission to burn and blow up just about anything as it was all scheduled to be bulldozed anyway to build the golf course.”
These three movies had a great impact on Fripp and its residents back in the day and certainly gave everyone involved something to remember. With the way the movie industry is becoming more prominent in Georgia, one has to hope that we may yet see more movies made in the area. After all, we know better than anyone just how picturesque the island and surrounding area is and with The Beaufort Film Festival going on 13 years and gaining prominence we may get our chance.
–Fripp Island A History by Page Putnam Miller