Scene and Heard: From Half Pints to Film Studios

by Rosemary Pacheco

It may be cold outside, but things are heating up in Rhode Island. Those of us in the film world are very excited as the industry is booming right now – great things are happening all around us.

Short film/TV pilot Half Pint, produced by Original Concept & Development Associates (Andre Stark and Duncan Putney), recently wrapped filming after shooting on locations in Middletown, Rhode Island, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire and New Bedford and Stow, Massachusetts. Half Pint is the story of a young boy who finds himself transported back to Normandy, France in the early morning of June 6, 1944. OCD Associates is funding this production through a unique pilot partnership program with the non-profit FLICKERS. “We are excited to begin the post production process and the challenge of editing all the great footage that we got,” says director of photography Tony Bennis. The finished film will be given away to museums and educational organizations. This film is not intended to teach kids history, but rather to inspire them to want to know more about it. The funds to shoot the project were raised though a Kickstarter campaign, while post production and distribution will be funded through grants and donations made to the non-profit 501-C-3 FLICKERS. For more information on the film go to OCDA.biz

 

Hollywood here in New England? It looks that way, with the advent of a new film studio going up in Ft. Devens, Massachusetts. It boasts 72,000 square feet of stage space, and will include 4,000 square feet of sound stage support space; a 30,000 square foot production building; a 20-square-foot mill building to house production construction facilities, mechanical effects, grip, lighting and set storage; and parking for 260 cars. The full service studio will rival any facility in the country and will be run by a seasoned team of experienced Californian film industry leaders with a strong Massachusetts affiliation. Plans are underway to organize a formal welcome at the studio’s completion. Stay tuned for that information, folks, more to come.

Who still makes movies about troublemaking teenagers these days? Well, twin brothers Kevin and Matthew McManus just made one, and it’s sort of great. They are alumni of Emerson College and they hail from East Greenwich. At its best moments, Funeral Kings is a mixture of Stand By Me, Superbad and the deservedly obscure Heaven Help Us; it’s a particularly perceptive, enjoyably gritty independent comedy that knows what it’s talking about. It’s a coming of age story about three young dudes – all aged 14, all profane and all horny. The boys work as funeral attendants for their school’s church. Sounds like a miserable assignment, right? Nope. Charlie, Andy and David just wait through the service and then take the rest of the day off from school. Unfortunately, they also get into a bunch of trouble with a local delinquent, some pretty girls and a mysterious chest that’s filled with unknown treasures. Funeral Kings just enjoyed its first theatrical release at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in LA, and then premiered here in RI on January 25 at the Cable Car Cinema. It heads off to San Francisco next, and then overseas to Sweden and France. Not bad for a first time effort. Bravo!

Confessions, a short film produced by RI’s Susanne Colle, began production this month, and it sounds like an interesting story. Stu and Anna find themselves with a kid-free weekend and decide to host a party for their new friends from work. A “confession room” equipped with a camera and a basket full of random questions reveal their guest’s vivacious personalities, secrets and desires. The film is directed by Trace Gunning, and Susanne appears as one of the lead characters.  For more info go to http://confessionsshortfilm.blogspot.com.

At 26, RI’s own Derek Dubois is a film studies professor at RIC and is now in post production on his new film, Lucid with Filament Pictures. He wrote and directed the 15-minute horror short that explores crumbling American masculinity in contemporary society. The narrative, concerning a film professor who must make the choice to protect either himself or his family when his home is invaded by a monstrous stranger, really gets under the skin. The film is in the final stages of color correction and scoring and should be ready to view online sometime over the next month or two. The cast includes Michael A. LoCicero, Cate Carson and Marc Vos in key roles. Grassroots fundraising, primarily through an online Kickstarter campaign, raised the film’s $3,500.00 budget. Shot entirely on DSLR, Lucid offers real thrills and proves emerging film technology is democratizing the medium for all.

So you’ve heard of the term “something wicked this way comes,” coined by Ray Bradbury? Well, it’s true: Something very wicked comes our way in the form of Alice D. Here is the synopsis: In the early 1900s, the Davenport House was a famous and successful brothel – until a young prostitute named Alice killed herself there. After her death, the brothel became haunted by Alice’s ghost, and was eventually abandoned. One hundred years later, the old structure was renovated into a beautiful mansion, still rumored to inhabit the ghost of Alice. Despite this, the new owner, a rich and arrogant heir to the Davenport fortune, decides to throw a wild party for his first night in the house. I for one, cannot wait to see what happens in this flick. Shot in Barrington, Rhode Island, produced by Jessica Sonneborn and Kristina Page Hammond of Two Chicks Pix, and featuring stars such as Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th) and WWE wrestler Al Snow, this film is highly anticipated.

Residual, from the mind of filmmaker Christopher D. Grace, is a short supernatural drama in the old vein of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. The film was spurred from a creative meeting that took place between Grace and his producer friend Kim Leadford back in 2009 at The Coast Guard House in Narragansett. Fast forward three years: Grace along with the film’s executive producer, Melinda Boczanowski, decided to put together a crew to shoot the film. The short, which was shot in only two-and-a-half days last December, will screen late February or early March as part of channel 9’s TV series Short Film Showcase, produced by Bryan Casey and hosted by Mike Messier in Seekonk, MA. facebook.com/ResidualtheFilm.

Written and directed by Rhode Island native Raz Cunningham of Small Giant Media, and produced by Melanie Hardy, the comedy Wander My Friends tells the story of a creative team behind a fictional smash hit indie comic book. Bryant Naro steps in as director of photography and Brandon Meadows as gaffer. The film was shot exclusively on Sony’s FS-100 in 1080p. Jared Mann is the sound mixer, with Mike Lamantia for Post Sound and editors Meagan Frappiea and Melanie Hardy. The film, shot in and around Rhode Island during Summer 2012, is currently in post-production. For more information visit smallGIANTmedia.com.

Scorpio Film Releasing is teaming up again with playwright and screenwriter, Lenny Schwartz for a new film entitled, Normal. Although Richard Griffin and Ted Marr, the principals of Scorpio Film Releasing, have produced a long line of successful horror features, the award-winning duo decided it was time to change things up. Normal is a feature-length psychological thriller, exploring the complexity and darkness of the human psyche. The production is bringing west coast actors Michael Reed and Sarah Nicklin back to Rhode Island to star in the film. Principal photography begins in May. The cast also includes local actors Nat Sylva, Elyssa Baldassari, Rich Tretheway, Monica Camara Saviolakis, Michael Thurber, David Wilson, Shannon Hartman, Patrick Keeffe, Samantha Acampora, Christopher Ferreira and Ben Royer and Pat O’Hara. Writer Lenny Schwartz of the Daydream Theater Company says, “Normal is the script I am most proud of out of all that I have written. It’s the one I feel closest to, the one I cannot shake no matter how much I try. It’s a dark journey, and I am so honored to have such talented actors, and such an amazing production team.” Normal will be completed before the end of 2013. Watch for continuing news about the production at facebook.com/NORMALTHEMOVIE.

AARP  has sponsored a documentary called Hungry in the West End, which debuted recently. It’s a report on senior hunger in Providence’s West End community, where poverty among Hispanics was the highest in the US in 2011.  It’s part of a multi-media project produced by John Martin and his partner Jody McPhillips. aarp.org/ri. 

More film news to come. Stay tuned!

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