Laura Chinn’s feature directorial debut, Hulu’s ‘Suncoast,’ is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film set in the early 2000s, with the landmark right-to-die court case of Terri Schiavo in the backdrop. The narrative introduces us to Doris, a timid high schooler with a terminally ill brother and a distraught mother. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, who seem to completely ignore her presence, and feels that her life has come to be defined by her brother’s illness. Upon taking him to the hospice, Doris comes across Paul Warren (Woody Harrelson), a protestor opposed to euthanasia.
The young girl is able to express herself freely with Paul and forms an unlikely friendship that she revisits along with the hospice. Once her mother starts spending nights at the facility with her brother, Doris invites the popular girls of her class to party at her home, garnering attention and making new friends. The uplifting tale confronts the issues of death and identity while highlighting the importance of fun and friendship during difficult times. The nostalgic atmosphere of the film and its backdrop takes us through sunkissed beach roads and quaint suburban neighborhoods, sparking curiosity regarding the actual filming locations of the movie.
Where Was Suncoast Filmed?
‘Suncoast’ was filmed in various locations across Charleston and Berkeley counties in South Carolina, which stood in for the canonical sites of Florida. Principal photography began on September 20, 2022, but was halted later that month due to Hurricane Ian. After things began settling down, cameras rolled once again in October, and filming was wrapped up by November 14, 2022.
Throughout their three months of filming on and off, the cast and crew seem to have had an idyllic time, with writer-director Laura Chinn appreciating the dynamic between actors Woody Harrelson and Nico Parker. “Woody and Nico were just darling together. That was the real (deal), how safe he made her feel,” said Chinn in an interview. “He’s worked with her mother before so they felt like family. Listening to them, and him guiding her and giving her tips— they were very, very, very sweet.” Allow us to take you through the specific locations chosen to lens the emotional film.
Charleston County, South Carolina
The scenic coastal stretch of Charleston County became an emblematic backdrop for the filming of ‘Suncoast.’ Alongside Charleston, the film crew ventured to the charming communities around the city, including Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, and James Island. With their nostalgic environment, natural beauty, and distinctive character, these areas became the primary filming sites for the film crew. Ocean Boulevard and its beach in Isle of Palms served as the backdrop for the Super Bowl party seen in the film, with our protagonists sitting at the bar beside the beach.
With its historic plantations, cobblestone streets, and pristine beaches, Charleston County stands as a captivating destination renowned for its rich history. Pleased to welcome the team of ‘Suncoast’ to work in their locales, Dan Rogers, senior project manager of the South Carolina Film Commission, said, “Our combination of competitive incentives, strong crew base, and great locations were the factors behind the filmmakers choosing us.” With an attractive package for filmmakers, Charleston has served as a home to prominent productions like ‘Outer Banks,’ ‘The Righteous Gemstones,’ and ‘The Notebook.’
Berkeley County, South Carolina
The filmmakers behind ‘Suncoast’ resumed filming after Hurricane Ian in October 2022, around the Lowcountry landscape of Berkeley County. In particular, the film crew was spotted in the verdant town of Moncks Corner. Shooting took place around East Main Street, Carolina Avenue, and Delta Pharmacy. Main Street was closed off between Gulledge Street and the railroad. The Delta Pharmacy on 402 East Main Street was prepared by the production team for a scene between Nico Parker and Woody Harrelson.
Residents took note of the tents and truckloads of gear in Delta’s parking lot, with a shopper commenting, “I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know what it was.” Adding, “(The film) Put our little town on the map like it’s never been before. I believe you need to use local small towns when possible for these big movies. If you can use local, that just ups the value of your town.” All cars within the area were relocated as a step in re-creating the background of the early 2000s. Moncks Corner’s historic downtown, with its well-preserved architecture and small-town ambiance, created a nostalgic backdrop that added depth and authenticity to scenes of ‘Suncoast.’
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