As spring arrives on the Vineyard, so will the reality TV crews.
According to a letter sent to Island town administrators, filming for the ABC Family reality TV show The Vineyard will take place May 5 through June 29.
Word came in February that the The Vineyard, announced as a docu-soap-reality show chronicling the lives of a group of 18 to 24-year olds, would be filming on the Island. The show is set to premiere on July 24 and production crews came to the Island and Boston in February for closed casting calls.
“We are aiming to impact the Vineyard’s residents and visitors as little as possible,” production manager Brett Blakeney wrote in a letter emailed to town officials. He said he did not have specifics about where and when filming would take place (although it is now being widely reported, including by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, that central filming will take place at the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven). “We would be thrilled to shoot in quintessential Vineyard locations like parks, beaches, streets in certain parts of town,” Mr. Blakeney said, and that he would reach out individually for permission once they have specifics.
Plans call for no more than 15 to 20 crew members on set at any given time, he said, and no more than four or five different vehicles, the largest being a cargo van. He said that if there are any plans that would disrupt traffic, the company would ask for written permission.
Announcement of the show led to an outpouring of online reaction, most of it negative, as people compared the show to MTV’s Jersey Shore. Mr. Blakeney addressed this in his letter, noting that the show is being aimed at teens and young adults. “As part of the Disney family, ABC Family requires strict standards to be upheld, and require that our show be extremely family-friendly.”
“The show is a coming-of-age show about not only ‘washashores’ who work on the Vineyard as a step before or after college, but also the young people who grew up on the Vineyard and their lives and how the summers with old and new friends affect their lives,” he wrote.
Edgartown town administrator Pamela Dolby told the board of selectmen about the letter at the board’s Monday meeting. Selectman Margaret Serpa suggested asking for further information.
The same letter was also received and discussed by the West Tisbury selectmen this week. “This is going to attract spectators,” said selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd. Town resident Virginia Jones said she had concerns. “I feel that this is a very unfortunate program and I know a lot of people that feel the same way,” she said.
Town administrator Jennifer Rand said the town does not issue film permits unless the selectmen decided otherwise. “The town has always taken the stance provided you are not trespassing, impeding a public way or causing a disruption, we don’t issue a permit,” Ms. Rand said.
Remy Tumin contributed to reporting.