Making Movie Magic

The big topic of conversation in these parts has for the past couple months been the fact that Twentieth Century Fox is filming scenes for X-Men: First Class right here on Jekyll Island.  Apparently, after what has seemed like endless preparation, they actually did some shooting today – the huge construction cranes that had been at their site had mysteriously vanished this morning, and when we tried to take some kids to the north end beach via bus this afternoon we discovered that the section of the beach front road near the set was closed off.

Here’s what the set looked like when a coworker and I walked up the beach to investigate last weekend.

That’s the one photo I managed to snap before the security guard noticed me and told me no pictures.  (Hey, I’m officially a paparazzo!)  Apparently the movie involves a plane crash at some point.  What’s interesting – and what makes this post at least tangentially relevant to this blog’s theme – is those palm trees visible behind the chunks of airplane.  Those are not our native cabbage palms.  Every single one of those was brought in by the production company when they constructed the set, and they seem to be tropical species that would normally be found significantly south of here.  I wonder where this scene is actually supposed to be set, and where they got all those palms, and what on earth they’re going to do with them after they finish.  Also, temperatures here the last couple nights have definitely dipped to around freezing – if these tropical plants are damaged by the cold, will it hold up filming while they come up with something to replace them?

Just some food for thought.  The movie comes out in June and stars James McAvoy, Kevin Bacon and January Jones, none of whom I’ve actually spotted, though clearly they must be lurking here on the island somewhere.  Fox, you’re welcome for the free publicity.

Environmental Education à la… Spongebob?

When you think of educational television for kids, this may not be the first thing that comes to mind:

Yeah, I can’t believe it either, but lately I find myself using Spongebob as a point of reference when teaching kids about the natural history of marine invertebrates.  It started when I told a class that the clam whose shell I was holding was a filter feeder, and started to explain what filter feeding is only to have one of them pipe up say, “Oh yeah, like Spongebob!”  Apparently the cartoon occasionally shows him filter feeding just like a real sponge.  Now I find myself doing some Googling to figure out whether Mr. Krabs is a hermit crab or a true crab.  If he’s a true crab, has he ever been depicted molting, I wonder?

It isn’t just Spongebob, either; the other bit of pop culture that seems to come up regularly is Finding Nemo.  When I take kids to the salt marsh we talk about how the marsh serves as a nursery for baby fish, who are much safer from predators there than in the open ocean.  “Like how Nemo was supposed to stay on the reef?”  Yes.  Exactly.  Where the barracudas couldn’t get him.

Honestly, if it teaches kids something about nature, I am all for it.  Just so long as they understand that sea stars don’t really wear swim trunks!