Sunny Valero started #SandyWatch2018 and #Birdbox as soon as Sandra Bullock and the rest of the cast and crew of the Netflix production rolled into town.
Valero, Crescent City’s human resources administrator, said at first she began posting to her personal Facebook page to be silly, but she suddenly began receiving tips from her friends.
“People would let me know, hey I heard maybe they were here or maybe she was here,” Valero said. “I started rolling with it. People would comment, ‘hey I thought she might be here’ and it just really took off. People seemed to enjoy it and I guess it became quite comical, so it was fun.”
“Bird Box” wrapped up three weeks of filming in Del Norte County last week, according to a press release from the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission. The film stars Sandra Bullock and is an adaptation of the 2014 post-apocalyptic thriller by writer/singer Josh Malerman. Shooting took place in Crescent City, including at the Cultural Center, as well as at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and on the Smith River. The film, which was also shot in Los Angeles, is expected to be released in December.
Twenty-five Del Norte residents joined the crew during scouting and filming. Local California Highway Patrol officers and Del Norte County Sheriff deputies also assisted with traffic control, escorting large equipment and provided water safety supervision during filming, according to the film commission.
During filming, the 351 crew members were housed in local hotels and Airbnbs and dined and shopped locally. The production also bought food from Safeway, Wild Rivers Market, Vita Cucina, Seaquake Brewing. Seaquake, North Coast Ocean Sports and Grill and Northwoods Public House also extended their hours and remained open on days they would typically be closed, according to the film commission.
Valero, who has been a fan of Sandra Bullock since the Academy Award-winning actress appeared in “Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman” in the 1980s, said she wouldn’t have started a Facebook watch for just any celebrity.
Valero noted she only posted to her personal Facebook page but the videos she posted were shared 500 to 700 times. People were texting her or messaging her on Facebook to tell her where Bullock was. Some would post photos and videos to Valero’s Facebook feed.
“We don’t have very many Academy Award-winning actors that come through town. It was something fun,” Valero said. “The town’s excited feel that was in the air for everybody fed into it, I think.”
Valero said she admired Bullock even more following a brief meeting with the actress while she was working at the Crescent City Cultural Center on the production’s last day of filming.
Bullock showed up at the Cultural Center, Valero said, gave her a brief hello and asked for directions to the restroom and then stopped to ask Valero how her day was going.
“Even though I was shaking, I had to hold it together, she was very sweet,” Valero said. “What got me about her was she put thought into somebody she didn’t know. She went to the restroom and made it a point to stop and ask somebody how they were doing.”
In a written statement, Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine said a production as large as “Bird Box” boosts the local economy substantially.
“This one is especially exciting because they filmed during our off-peak season when we don’t usually experience tourism of this size,” Hesseltine said. “Though this is the largest number of crew that either Humboldt or Del Norte has experienced during my time as the commissioner, it is a delight to work with such a well-organized and professional production.”
The “Bird Box” crew has not provided complete spending numbers to the Film Commission, however they will be released as soon as they are received, according to the organization’s press release.
According to Valero, the camera crew of “Bird Box” were pleasantly surprised by Crescent City and Del Norte County. In speaking with the crew, Valero said they thought there were great places to camp and great bed and breakfasts.
“I feel like sometimes we’re isolated up here and we get forgotten about because we’re so remote,” Valero said. “It helps to remind everybody that we’re here. We’ve got a lot to offer and it’s exciting for us.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .