Thursday, January 5, 2012
Even though Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven and Thomas Jane star in I Melt With You, director Mark Pellington believes that the film might not have gotten a theatrical release if it hadn’t been set in Big Sur and Monterey.
“We shot on such a low budget with small cameras,” he says. “If it was shot in a nondescript place, I think people would have said, ‘Forget it.’”
Opening at Osio Cinemas this Friday, I Melt With You finds four old college buddies reuniting for a weekend in Big Sur, taking in large quantities of prescription drugs, booze, beer, cocaine and pot while listening to great music and reminiscing. These are men behaving badly, and, even worse, behaving unbelievably. It’s a dark film with a contrived plot twist of interest to local residents due only to its local scenes, including a car chase up Big Sur’s Point Sur.
Initially, I Melt With You was not going to be shot in Monterey County. The Glenn Porter script was set in Cape Cod in October.
“Actors’ availabilities and situations made it so shooting on the East Coast wasn’t feasible,” he says. “But I still very much wanted a beach feeling.”
Pellington, nominated for an Emmy for his work on Homicide: Life on the Street, found Big Sur on the Internet and flew in to scout locations. I Melt With You is mostly set in and around a house in the Carmel Highlands with views of the slate-gray Pacific Ocean. It also has scenes where the friends go skinny-dipping at Garrapata Beach and drive a Porsche recklessly in Fort Ord Dunes State Park while doing cocaine. Also making cameos: Monterey’s Fisherman’s Wharf, the Monterey Harbor and the Monterey restaurant Massaro & Santos.
There’s also a segment in which Jane’s character gets seasick on a fishing boat floating in rough seas off of Bixby Bridge. The puking was scripted and meant to be fake: “Then literally an hour later we had our cameras on, and he did it for real,” Pellington says.
Maybe even more difficult than filming the fishing boat scene was shooting at Point Sur, a promontory notorious for its wild weather.
“You would scout there, and it would be sunny,” he says. “You would go scout three days later, and it would be fogged in and you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you. On the two days we shot up there it was super foggy early in the morning, but it kind of burned off by the time we filmed the scenes. It was beautiful.”
A year and a half after filming I Melt With You in Monterey County, Pellington is still awed by the natural beauty. “Setting this tale of self destruction in those landscapes – whether it’s the light flaring against them as they are driving or the ocean pushing them back or the rocks being menacing or the dunes being great places of observation – all of those metaphorical choices work so much better in a place like that,” he says. “It’s really a remarkable place unlike any other in the world.”
I MELT WITH YOU (1½) Starring Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Thomas Jane. • Directed by Mark Pellington. • 129 min. • Rated R. • At Osio Cinemas.