Filming begins on Martha’s Vineyard for ‘Sea of Destiny’

From left: Jose Gonsalves, Rob Slocum, Joanne Vieira, and Roderick Wilmore in front of Ted Box's scow. — Photo by Susan Safford

Last weekend, cast and crew of a low-budget independent film that will commence shooting this fall made a trip to the Vineyard.

On Saturday afternoon, April 28, they shot a preliminary trailer for the movie and held a meet and greet with the community. Four crew members, three actors, and a handful of friends and supporters joined screenwriter and assistant director Paul Antonelli at the lot on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven where Ted Box is building a 90-foot wooden boat. The boat building process will play a part in the movie, titled “Sea of Destiny.”

Mr. Antonelli hoped to drum up local interest in the film, which will be shot entirely on the Vineyard over the course of 45 to 60 days, beginning in mid September. He is seeking sponsoring businesses, which would be featured in the film, and is recruiting locals for the cast and crew. He still has some roles to cast, including the female lead. Mr. Antonelli will also be scouting for locales, including “an old captain’s house with a widow’s walk, close to the ocean in Edgartown.”

This is a first script for 42-year-old Mr. Antonelli, who works in construction and other trades in Duxbury. He has worked behind the scenes on a number of productions for independent film company Big Whopper Films of Wareham, and worked as an extra for a few Hollywood films.

“Sea of Destiny” is “A love story that expands the test of time,” according to Mr. Antonelli. The action takes place entirely on Martha’s Vineyard and jumps back and forth between the 18th century and the present day.

“We’ll turn Edgartown back to 1795 at one point,” said Mr. Antonelli. The film features a surprise twist at the end.

During Saturday’s reconnaissance visit, one of the cast members, Rob Slocum of North Reading, lent a hand helping to Mr. Box and crew to bend a structural support. A former boat owner and descendant of Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail single-handed around the world, he was excited to participate in the boat-building project. The seasoned actor is also looking forward to visiting the former Vineyard home of his famous ancestor.

Mr. Slocum has appeared in theater and films including a principal role in a 2010 indie film called “CO2,” which has enjoyed worldwide distribution. In “Sea of Destiny” he will play the lead — a middle-aged man who buys his dream home in Edgartown after winning millions in the lottery.

Two other cast members were on hand for the Vineyard visit – 18-year-old Joanne Vieira of Mansfield, who plays a young Vineyard native who befriends the hero, and Jose Gonsalves of Exeter, R.I., who plays Mr. Slocum’s best friend. Mr. Gonsalves was a child actor in summer stock theater who recently “got bitten again by the acting bug.” The 41-year-old most recently worked on “The 10 O’Clock People,” an independent film adaptation of a Stephen King short story.

Of “Sea of Destiny,” Mr. Gonsalves said, “This is the best independent script I’ve ever read. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Both Mr. Antonelli and Mr. Slocum insist that the real star of the film will be the Island itself. “Martha’s Vineyard has the leading role,” Mr. Antonelli said. “She may not have any lines, but she will speak volumes.” He plans to focus on the beauty of the Vineyard and will place a lot of emphasis on the cinematography. Mr. Antonelli has recruited a private pilot friend to facilitate some aerial shots.

“We want the Island people to be proud of this, and I think they will be,” Mr. Antonelli said.

All three actors, as well as Mr. Antonelli, are enthusiastic about spending time on the Vineyard. Both Mr. Gonsalves and Mr. Slocum will bring their wives and kids for day trips. Ms. Vieira is looking forward to checking out the local shops. Mr. Antonelli brought his young son along last Saturday. The six-year-old, who will have a small role in the film, spent most of the day on the nearby beach.

Mr. Antonelli plans to return, along with Mr. Slocum, this Saturday to do some more work on the boat. He spotted the boat building site on an early scouting trip here and approached Mr. Box about featuring the boat and boat shed in the film. Along with his son, Jake, Mr. Box has been working on the project since last August. It is projected to be completed this September. He will use it as a seagoing classroom and floating gallery to display his driftwood furniture and Jake’s environmental art. The boat is modeled after a Gulf Coast Scow Schooner that Mr. Box admired years ago at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Antonelli is considering spending the summer on the Vineyard, working, making contacts and, hopefully, learning some more about boat-building. “I want to help build this,” he said of Mr. Box’s boat. “This is something that I love. I know every tool there, but I don’t know how to build a boat. When we get in it and go for a sail I can hold my head up and say that I was part of this.”

Like the protagonist of his film, Mr. Antonelli would like someday to fulfill his dream of living on the Vineyard. “When I get on the Island I’m in a state of complete euphoria,” he said. “I hope to retire there. Once I make it to the Island, I won’t set foot off of it.”