Holiday Beach, the Movie

Recently, my screenwriting past caught up with me.  A screenwriter friend, Steve Larson, sent me an invitation to attend a free screening of the feature film he’d directed and co-wrote with another friend, Gary Jenneke.  I knew the story of Holiday Beach because I’d read a couple versions of the script, but I hadn’t read the final shooting script.  But how exciting!  The movie was done and ready to be screened by crew and cast, friends and family.

Another writer friend, Chris Wold, and I went together to the screening at a neighborhood theater not far from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.  A chattering crowd filled the lobby as we waited for the last commercial show to let out.  At last, we filed into the auditorium and claimed seats.  Before the movie began, instead of previews or cartoons (laughing) the producer and Steve each talked about the experience of making the movie which was shot on the North Shore of Lake Superior and at Camp Ripley in Minnesota.  And an invitation to check the movie’s website at

What impressed me immediately were the production values — very professional with a soundtrack that anchored the time period of the story in the early 1960’s.  The action takes place at a naval listening base on Kodiak Island, Alaska.  The main character is a Minnesotan named Carl Miller who sends and receives morse code.  He’s just arrived at the base and his first encounter is with Harding, his adversary and bully.  As the story progressed, I expected various scenes that didn’t materialize which was disappointing but didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the movie, watching Miller, Rossini, Dempsey and the others deal with bully Harding and the way they finally end his reign of terror.  In the movie, the parallel conflict of the Cuban Missile crisis was far more prominent and effective than in the last script I’d read.  I really liked that.

Their next step is to find a distributor for the movie.  The usual route is through screenings on the independent film festival circuit.  That will take more time and work. 

I’m really proud of the superb job Steve and his cast and crew did on this movie over the last two years.  Way cool to know someone who’s actually done it, too.  I really loved the movie and hope it does well out there in the world….


8 responses to “Holiday Beach, the Movie

  1. NHCP Swim Club

    Was this movie also filmed at Hosterman Middle School in New Hope?

    • I will inquire and post the response from the director here.

    • Sorry it took so long but I finally received an answer from the director, Steve Larson: “Yes, your blog reader is correct. We did shoot the shower scene at Hosterman. She’s quite discerning.”
      It seems his producer attended Hosterman and made the arrangements. Thanks for the question!

  2. I was stationed at Holiday Beach in 1963 for one full year. I purchased the movie mainly to see how close they were in replicating the barracks and RC site and authenticity. They were amazingly close. It would have been next to impossible to duplicate it exactly since the barracks are now gone and RC is a little in moth balls. I went back and visited it two years ago with my wife.

    The morse code in the background while they were at RC was very real. Once you know the code, you never forget. I was a speed key operator at the time. Often in movies today you hear something that is supposed to sound like the code but it is not. The movie actually used real code. I appreciated that.

    I really didn’t care for the plot or even the acting. I would probably have walked out of a movie like this if it were in a theater. Too much unbelievable stuff. But I did like the sound track going to JFK and keeping up with the problems of that era; namely, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Good job of that.

    Thanks much to the writers and producers. It would seem that someone must have actually been there or had contact with someone who was. There were a lot of similarities but the barracks and RC life was not as dismal, dark, quite and spooky as the movie would indicate. It was a fun place.

    Thanks much everyone!

    Danny Jackson, RM2/USN 1962-1966
    Santa Ana, CA

    • Thanks for your comment, Danny Jackson, and for sharing your experience at Holiday Beach! The script originated from a guy, Gary Jeneke, who was stationed there during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His job was sending and receiving morse code. Gary and I were in a screenwriting group together with the screenwriter who ended up directing the movie, Steve Larson, and also the editor, Scott Ferrel. So, I read several drafts of the script at different times and gave my feedback. Once Steve moved it into pre-production, and the group made the amicable decision to not meet anymore, I lost track of the script. Steve invited the group to the premiere in Minneapolis, and I have to admit, I was stunned by how close he got to the actual locations. It was filmed entirely in Minnesota. The magic of movies!

      I’ve forwarded your comment on to Steve, the director. I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear from a Holiday Beach alum.

      Thanks, Danny!

  3. I actually joined the Navy about a week before the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962. The sailor in the movie who wanted to go “fight” so bad reminded me of myself and others in boot camp in San Diego at that time; proving how young and dumb we really were. Pretty stupid to be looking foward to war. Hey. I was 17 and didn’t know any better.

    I checked in at Holiday Beach in August, 1963, right out of RM”A” school in San Diego. I actually requested Kodiak because of my love of the outdoors, hunting, fishing. I loved it there until the big quake on March 27, 1964. Then I wanted to get off the island. The sooner the better.

    When the Holiday Beach crew in the movie said things like “81 and a wake up,” I remember that comment very well. We also had a piece of paper in our lockers with 365 pieces of a “pie” in a big circle. Each day you could pencil out one of those “pieces.” When you became a “short timer” the pie was almost filled in.

    Another point of authenticity was “new guy.” Yes, a new arrival was a “new guy” until someone else came in later. Unless 2 arrived on the same day, then they were both “new guys.” I will add something to that, however. We were actually “(expletive deleted) New Guys.”

    Again, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie from a historical standpoint as far as the Cuban problem went. And I really enjoyed watching the RC and Holiday Beach Barracks thing pan out again. But barracks is now gone but I have photos of the old barracks site as well as the RC building taken 2 years ago. I have fond memories of that place.

    Again, for me personally having been there and being an ex military man, I found the plot to be way over the top as far as credibility or believability. If someone was really acting up like that and being that much of a bully, of course that would not have been tolerated. He would have been in the bring or mustered out way before he could have caused that kind of trouble. So I had real problems with that.

    I’m very glad the movie was produced, however, I had much fun watching and explaining to my wife the details about RC and what we did.

    But why didn’t the code operator use a speed key? The code (which was great) we were listning to in the movie was obviously from a speed key, not a straight key. I was a speed key operator and I would have loved to have seen the speed key in the movie. Oh well.

    As far as your shooting location, could have fooled me. The gravel beach and the surf just “lapping” in was exactly the way it was. The cliff as well. Very authentic looking. Good job on that.

    If anyone would like to see some of these good photos I took at Holiday Beach two years ago, send me an email and I would be glad to send to you. You will enjoy seeing the way the place looks today.

    Thanks much everyone !!

    Danny Jackson

    • Hi, Danny,

      Thanks for your addition information and comments. I have forwarded them to the director and the writer. It’s always good to hear from movie viewers regarding what they liked or disliked. Thanks for your respectful comments! Cinda

  4. I would also add, that I left Kodiak in August 1964 during the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed. From Kodiak I reported aboard ship and went to Viet Nam in 1965. Was involved with several amphibious landings on the beaches of Viet Nam. That is where I made RM2.

    Thanks again,


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