Filmways Production Information Guide - Summer Lovers


Lovers and strangers have been drawn to the Greek Islands ever since Homer wrote about them. Young people are especially drawn to the Islands , because they are inexpensive, always sunny, and offer a freedom rarely experienced anywhere else in the world.

And every summer, they come to Greece by the thousands. Young men and women from all over the world in search of fun, discovery and love. Some are away from home and its restrictions for the first time. Other more worldly travellers just gravitate to the isles' seemingly endless summer. All of them come to Greece for essentially the same reson, to explore life. To have the freedom to do as they please, with whomever they please. It's their time for anything under the sun.

Shouldering backpacks, the kids head out from Athens on ferries which circuit the various island groups. There are three classes of shipboard accommodations: first-class cabins, second class indoor seating, and third class on the open fan deck. Third class rapidly becomes a floating campsite; sleeping bags are rolled out wherever they'll fit; backpacks are propped up as windbreakers or headrests, and the visiting begins. In whatever language that works, they discuss the pros and cons of various islands. They trade tips on campsites, hot beaches,discos and tavernas. They talk about where they're from and where they're going. The romance and chance of summer is everywhere.

Their first ferry ride sets the pattern for the whole summer. In endless variation, they meet and mingle on beaches, in towns, tent cities, museums, tavernas, bars and discos. Ceaselessly, they move. Friendships form and reform as paths cross and recross. Inhabitions evaporate because there is no one around to disapprove. Love affairs can be as fleeting or permanent as the partners care. If things don't work out, there's always another boat and a different island in the morning.

The Greek Isles, with their century's old beauty, are the setting for "Summer Lovers", a film directed by Randal Kleiser for Filmways Pictures. Kleiser also wrote the screenplay about young people in a summer world of beaches,tan bodies and the first delights of a newly discovered independence.

"Summer Lovers" is a love story about a beautiful young American couple -- Michael (Peter Gallagher) and Cathy (Daryl Hannah), who vacation on Santorini, an island of dazzling white villages, towering cliffs and black sand beaches. Michael, however, arrives restless. He feels inexplicably confined in his relationship with Cathy. Lina (Valerie Quennessen) is a beautiful, spunky French archaeologist who has come to Greece to get away from relationships. She lives a few houses from Michael and Cathy.

Michael first discovers Lina from afar. Though Cathy is a beautiful woman whom he has loved since childhood, Michael is mesmerized by Lina. She in turn, is amused by Michael's awkward attempts at seduction. They connect, each thinking it will be a private mini-affair. But Michael is unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster of loving two women -- especially two who are so different. Cathy embodies the virtues of the straight-forward American way; Lina personifies the magic long associated with beautiful French women. Where Cathy is possessive, Lina is not. Philosophically, the two women are worlds apart. Geographically, they are but a few hundred feet.

Torn by conflicting emotions, Michael reveals to Cathy his liason with Lina. In a bold move, which surprises even herself, Cathy seeks out lina. Each is fascinated with the other, and a wary, tentative relationship begins, based on their individual love for Michael.

All three face a difficult situation, but on Santorini, rules are suspended. Life is governed solely by the rise and set of the sun.

Being abroad, one sees everything through new eyes. Being three in a world of twos makes every action special. Everything is charged with the excitement and sensuality of the first time. There are no guidelines, no signposts on how to behave. People are free of the expectations which rob so many lovers of love's reward. Michael, Cathy and Lina are challenged to let go and immerse in their island world. They can let their hearts take the lead. On Santorini Island, a summer paradise for free spirits living as they will, the three open themselves to the most rewarding experience of their lives.


"Summer Lovers" has four principal characters: Michael, Cathy, Lina and the Greek Isles. The idea for the film occured to writer-director Randal Kleiser while touring the islands on vacation. He found fascinating the uninhibited, free-form lifestyle created by literally thousands of young adults from all over the world.

While mapping out the production strategy, Kleiser and the film's producer, Mike Moder, chose four island locations: Santorini, Delos, Mykonos and Crete, and a palette of colors they wanted the locations to convey: the blue of the Aegean, the tan of sunned bodies, and the dazzling white of the island villages.

Santorini, a tiny dot in the Greek Aegean 9,000 miles from Los Angeles, hosted the bulk of the filming. Also known by its ancient name, Thira, the island is a huge volcano, the centre of which disappeared in a terriffic explosion in about 1500 B.C. It it widely believed that this cataclysm wherein half the island slid into the sea, together with the attendant tidal wave which destroyed Minoan Crete, gave rise to the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis.

A production office was established in Fira, the island capital, which hugs the cliffside above the sea. It was the check-in point for camera equipment from London, production equipment from Los Angeles, vehicles from England and Athens, and crew members from Greece, England and the U.S.A.

In order to transport the camera equipment along the rugged mountain trails, the production kept on call a string of donkeys and mules. Every morning they were loaded with appropriate gear and led to work by surefooted guides -- guides whose ancestors were forerunners of today's Teamsters.

Some of the film's sites were as unique as the methods used to transport cast, crew and equipment to them.

Valerie Quennessen plays a working archaeologist. The production secured an unprecedented permission to film at an actual dig -- Akrotiri, the presumed "lost city of Atlantis". Instructed by a real archaeologist, Valerie set to work before the cameras in an area of the site selected for light and production values. She had hardly started when, much to the joy of everyone, she uncovered several pieces of 3500-year-old pottery. They were turned in and added to the scientific collection.

Then there are the beaches, filled with young people from every country, tanned and glowing in strips of faded cloth (if they wear anything at all), that further define island life. On the sand and in the surf people meet, mingle, work on their all-over tans and make love. This uninhibited, graceful acceptance of anything under the sun is what strikes first-time visitors to the Greek Islands.

In order to make everything authentic, the production posted signs in seven languages inviting backpackers to audition as extras. It created an islands-wide craze. As the kids moved from place to place, they spread the word -- a free meal and 1000 drachmas a day paid to people doing what they'd do anyway! Soon, no matter where the company moved, there was a ready supply of international youth lining up for employment.

When casting in Greece, the company lucked into a surprise. Hans Van Tongeren, the noted Dutch actor who created a sensation in the U.S. in the film "Spetters", was enlisted from the ranks of summer visitors. Daryl Hannah passed him on a street in Thira, recognised him, and importuned him to meet the director. Hans did, read the part of Jan, and joined the production.

It is the nature of a Greek vacation to move from island to island. The company was no exception. To transport the crew to Mykonos and back, the production chartered a 147-foot motor yacht, The Angela, which carries a crew of 16 and can accommodate 11 passengers in elegant, air-conditioned staterooms. The inter-island travel time was devoted to shooting the "Vive Le Jet Set" scene, which takes place on the pleasure boat of an extravagant Greek tycoon. The Angela, rechristened "The Colossus", adopted this role easily, since she was originally owned and cruised by Aristotle Onassis, who subsequently presented it as a wedding gift to Prince Rainier of Monaco when he married Grace Kelly.

Mykonos is the most renowned of the Aegean islands, famous for its splendid series of beaches and non-stop night life. It is also the island of access to Delos, which was the seat of the Aegean league. Delos probably has more ruins and artifacts than any other Grecian site. Once again, the production received an unprecedented permission to film among the ruins, which provided an atmoshere and authenticity the most elaborate set could ever convey.

The final week of shooting was a Matala Bay in Crete, the largest Greek island, and a mere 200 miles from Africa. At 8:00 p.m. on Friday, a caravan of camera trucks, grip trucks, buses, catering wagons and crew vehicles lumbered aboard a chartered ferryboat accompanied by cast and crew. At 2:00 a.m., Saturday, the caravan disembarked at Heraklion and set off in formation across Crete. At 4:00 a.m., an exhuasted company wound its way down the mountains of Matala. The next day, the waiting standard mule string was ready to tote equipment over a seaside ridge to a spectacular series of cliffs and coves. The setting was ideal, except there were no tidal pools to round out the ideallic image. Crew members were sent back over the mountain on donkey back where trucks sped them across Crete to Heraklion to round up pumps and hoses. That same day, while the company shot cliff jumping scenes, crew members created sparkling tidal pools which were quickly peopled by eager extras.

On October 17,1981, two months after the start of principal photography, the final shot was filmed and the production faced its last hurdle, getting everyone and everything home, the only trasportation task that did not require donkeys.

The above production note excerpts have been reproduced from the Summer Lovers - Filmways Pictures press kit.
© 1982 Filmways Pictures.

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