'Big Miracle' crew begins filming

Kyle Hopkins
Capt. Amy Slinker, commander, 134th Public Affairs Detachment, Alaska Army National Guard, poses for a photo with Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson during a meet and greet event held Nov. 6, 2010 at Hanger 1 on Bryant Army Airfield.
Maj. Guy Hayes / Alaska National Guard
Capt. Brett Haker, maintenance officer, Army Aviation Support Facility, Alaska National Guard, smiles for the camera with stars, John Krasinski and Dax Shepard during a meet and greet event Nov. 6, 2010.
Charity Haker /ADN reader submission
Alaska National Guardsmen and cast members of the upcoming movie, Everybody Loves Whales, pose for a group photo during a meet and greet event held at the Bryant Army Airfield Hangar 1 Nov. 6, 2010.
Maj. Guy Hayes / Alaska National Guard
Dave Payne of Juneau watches as fog machines fire up during movie production work on "Everybody Loves Whales" near the small boat launch Thursday October 21, 2010 in Anchorage. Payne and others were gathered on the overlook at the Captain Cook statue downtown.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Fifth-grade teacher Laurie Hoefer plays movie diva and Jennie Tschappat-Larson chuckles as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by a movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Fog machines fire up during movie production work on "Everybody Loves Whales" near the small boat launch Thursday October 21, 2010 in Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Movie Star Drew Barrymore was spotted earlier sitting on this picnic table in Elderberry Park on Tuesday October 5, 2010. Barrymore is in Anchorage, AK filming the movie 'Everybody Loves Whales'.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Facades of Barrow buildings are part of the movie production setting for "Everybody Loves Whales" near the small boat launch Thursday October 21, 2010 in Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Fourth and fifth graders celebrate as they depart Pacific Northern Academy on a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour in a limousine bus Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage. Their two classes were displaced for the day by crews from the Everybody Loves Whales film production working in their classrooms. The students had researched whales and the 1988 incident near Barrow on which the movie is based, creating reports and illustrations that will also be used for props and set design. Teachers Sarah Mariner and Laurie Hoefer decided to celebrate their work by using some money provided by the production company to rent the bus, buy "latte" cocoa drinks, hand out sunglasses and make Hollywood clothing purchases at Value Village, dine out for lunch and finish the outing with bowling. "We are the stereotypical stars for the day!," said Mariner. "It's a hoot!"
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Laurie Hoefer leads Morgan Meek and fellow students to a limousine bus as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
A movie set for "Everybody Loves Whales" designed to resemble Barrow is visible from a passing plane Wednesday October 13, 2010 above the small boat harbor in Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Morgan Meek tries to decide between Hollywood looks while shopping at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Sarah Mariner helps students pick out a Hollywood look at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Fourth and fifth graders from Pacific Northern Academy celebrate with cocoa drink "lattes" during a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour in a limousine bus Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage. Their two classes were displaced for the day by crews from the Everybody Loves Whales film production working in their classrooms. The students had researched whales and the 1988 incident near Barrow on which the movie is based, creating reports and illustrations that will also be used for props and set design. Teachers Sarah Mariner and Laurie Hoefer decided to celebrate their work by using some money provided by the production company to rent the bus, buy "latte" cocoa drinks, hand out sunglasses and make Hollywood clothing purchases at Value Village, dine out for lunch and finish the outing with bowling. "We are the stereotypical stars for the day!," said Mariner. "It's a hoot!"
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Sarah Mariner snaps photos at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Fifth graders Morgan Meek, foreground, Olivia Hart, center, and Janessa Joseph, center left, celebrate with fellow fourth and fifth graders as they depart Pacific Northern Academy on a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour in a limousine bus Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage. Their two classes were displaced for the day by crews from the Everybody Loves Whales film production working in their classrooms. The students had researched whales and the 1988 incident near Barrow on which the movie is based, creating reports and illustrations that will also be used for props and set design. Teachers Sarah Mariner and Laurie Hoefer decided to celebrate their work by using some money provided by the production company to rent the bus, buy "latte" cocoa drinks, hand out sunglasses and make Hollywood clothing purchases at Value Village, dine out for lunch and finish the outing with bowling. "We are the stereotypical stars for the day!," said Mariner. "It's a hoot!"
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Devan Stephens completes her look with a necklace at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Youngsters select Hollywood styles at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Limousine bus driver Howard Shanks of Aurora Limousines helps hand hot cocoa "lattes" from Caffe D'arte up to the young celebrities as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Andrew Huang finds the perfect T-shirt for his Hollywood look at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Young celebrities pose with their Hollywood styles at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
From left Gwyneth Alteneder, Sophie Weiser, Arvand Agarwal, Silas Rhyneer, Sebastian Rojas and Madeline Maurer show off their Hollywood fashion on the limousine bus following a visit to Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Sarah Mariner, left, snips price tags from purchases made by Carlos Keppers as Erin Huff rings up items at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Out-of-season snow remains at the China Garden Restaurant on Fireweed Lane after filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in Anchorage, AK.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Bella Harmon parades a glittery number while picking out her Hollywood wardrobe as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Isabella Goodman tries on a Hollywood look at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Randy Cantor, the transportation coordinator, takes a call as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Stella Thompson, Amanda Dibenedegto, Andrea Hernandez, Sahvanna Thompson and Sebastian Ulz try to get a peak at film Star Drew Barrymore during filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Sarah Mariner snips price tags from purchases made by Silas Rhyneer at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Art teacher Brenda Jaeger, left, watches the changing rooms as Isabelle Hjelden, center, and Zackary Lovell try out their Hollywood looks at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Laurie Hoefer finds just the right hat for a Hollywood look for Olivia Hart at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Teacher Laurie Hoefer tries to help students pick out a Hollywood look at Value Village as fourth and fifth graders displaced from classrooms at Pacific Northern Academy by the Everybody Loves Whales movie production enjoy a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage.
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Nick Mestrandrea of craft services talks about keeping the crew fed as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Co-Star John Krasinski leaves the set in an SUV as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
West High acting student Katelyn Lanier-Moylan was one of a group of students who had a short visit to the set of the filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in West High School in Anchorage, AK on Friday October 1, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Eric Thompson of For Stars Catering works on a outdoor stove set up behind West High during filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in West High School library in Anchorage, AK on Friday October 1, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Paul Rasher mans the Kaladi Brothers Coffee trailer as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot. Kaladi Brothers is providing free coffee to the film crew.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Madeline Maurer, center, Andrew Huang, left, and Olivia Hart, right, of Pacific Northern Academy accessorize while picking out wardrobes suitable for movie stardom on a surprise "movie stars for the day" tour in a limousine bus Friday October 8, 2010 in east Anchorage. Their two classes were displaced for the day by crews from the Everybody Loves Whales film production working in their classrooms. The students had researched whales and the 1988 incident near Barrow on which the movie is based, creating reports and illustrations that will also be used for props and set design. Teachers Sarah Mariner and Laurie Hoefer decided to celebrate their work by using some money provided by the production company to rent the bus, buy "latte" cocoa drinks, hand out sunglasses and make Hollywood clothing purchases at Value Village, dine out for lunch and finish the outing with bowling. "We are the stereotypical stars for the day!," said Mariner. "It's a hoot!"
ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News
Amy Anderson of Team One Medical, of Anchorage, is ready to attend to any injuries as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Jack Nelson sits in his front yard across the street and Jeff Congdon and his daughter Bret Congdon watch the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010. The filming is taking place in the Congdon home.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Ted Danson, one of the leads of the movie Everybody Loves Whales is greeted by director Ken Kwapis as Danson arrives on the set before the first day of filming in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010. The filming of Danson's part will start on Friday.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Gene Boyda, of Anchorage, drapes the front of a store front as the filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Traffic on 5th Avenue is backed up as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Jack Nelson sits in his front yard across the street and Jeff Congdon and his daughter Bret Congdon watch the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010. The filming is taking place in the Congdon home.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Extras for the Greenpeace office scene head for the set as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
A crew member assembles a light as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Semis full of equipment are needed for a major film project. The filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Zach Patrick-Riely tapes an Alaska license plate over the vanity plate of a car to be used in a scene as filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Crew members prepare for the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
West High sophomore Ashley Richards tries get a look at film star Drew Barrymore during filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in West High School library in Anchorage, AK on Friday October 1, 2010. Richards, whose favorite Barrymore movie is 50 First Dates, was disappointed at not being able to see Barrymore.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Crew members prepare for the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Crew members prepare for the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales continues in downtown Anchorage on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Bruce's T-Shirts store on 5th Avenue was converted into a Greenpeace office for the shoot.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Haydn Pazanti, 2nd assistant camera, and Andy Shuttleworth, B camera operator, prepare for the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Crew members prepare for the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Jack Nelson sits in his front yard across the street from the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News
Crew members prepare for the first day of filming of the movie Everybody Loves Whales in west Anchorage on Thursday September 16, 2010.
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News

Picture the opening scene.

It's a foggy gray morning in Bootlegger Cove. Semi-trucks and guys with coffee cups line 11th Avenue as dozens of people orbit a single home. Everywhere you look are union workers and wires, people walking purposely with clipboards and lights nearly as big as beer kegs stacked on carts.

Get used to that image. Filmmakers on Thursday began shooting the Universal Pictures movie "Everybody Loves Whales" here, launching 10 weeks of filming in Alaska.

The scene shot Thursday on the edge of downtown was a simple one: A California family watches news coverage of the media circus that followed the discovery of three gray whales trapped in the sea ice near Barrow.

To make a Bootlegger Cove house look like one in the Golden State circa 1988, the filmmakers painted all the walls facing the street brown, arranged California-style plants outside the door and hid the plasma TV, said Jeff Congdon, an Anchorage doctor who owns the home.

It's a surreal reversal of the state's usual relationship with Hollywood: trying to make Alaska look like someplace else. Another major movie is expected to begin filming here early next year as the state government attempts to subsidize TV and film productions with fat tax incentives.

"Whales," a fictionalized retelling of the '88 whale rescue attempt, will likely film about 12 hours a day, five days a week over the next 2 1/2 months, said David Linck, a spokesman for the movie.

It generally takes about a day to shoot two to four minutes of a film, he said.

"We're starting real slow this day," he said as the crew circled the house and walked from trailer to trailer between West Anchorage lawns.

"Do you know where the honey wagon is?" one man asked another. (The film industry evidently uses "honey wagons" in the same manner Alaskans use "honey buckets.")

A photographer layered in gear in the soupy morning haze stopped to talk with Linck. "You know, I wasn't expecting to wear all my warm clothes on the first day," he said.

Across the street, a neighbor sat in a plastic chair, holding a mug and a cane as he watched the buzzing production.

"I woke up 2:30 this morning and the place was packed," he said.

On Thursday, at least, the set felt like a construction site. Lots of heavy equipment and hubbub, where no one notices you until you step too close.

Linck, the publicist, shooed a Daily News photographer down from one of the trucks. Insurance liability, he explained.

Moments later, a car pulled up and out stepped Ted Danson ("Cheers," "Becker," "Curb Your Enthusiasm") who plays an oil man in the film. Director Ken Kwapis ("He's Just Not That Into You") put an arm around the actor and the pair walked inside the doctor's freshly painted house.

"He must have just got in," Linck said of Danson. "Because he works tomorrow."

Read The Village, the ADN's blog about rural Alaska, at adn.com/thevillage. Twitter updates: twitter.com/adnvillage. Call Kyle Hopkins at 257-4334.


By KYLE HOPKINS
khopkins@adn.com
Contact Kyle Hopkins at or on