Adams Middle School Will Star in Independent Film
|The vacant middle school will used as a film set this July.|
ADAMS, Mass. — Local film buffs might see some familiar sights at major film festivals in the next year.
A New York City production company will be filming portions "February," a short movie about a young police officer trying to overcome her traumatic past, in the Adams Memorial Middle School this July.
The company, Scabland Productions, is eyeing the film for acceptance to major film festivals like Sundance and South By Southwest.
"It is definitely festivalbound," Jessi Shuttleworth, the founder of Scabland as well as writer, producer and director of the film, said on Wednesday.
Shuttleworth is no stranger to being in front of the camera — performing in feature films and television shows — as well as writing screenplays. She has spent three years writing the storyline and is now bringing it to screen.
Her father, Red Shuttleworth, is a poet and playwright and Shuttleworth has spent her entire life surrounded by actors, directors and writers. She dabbled in acting, appearing in the movie "21" and in multiple episodes of the television show "Waterfront," and writing.
But when she went to the Tribeca Film Festival a few years ago, she saw what she wanted to do. She wanted to produce a short film with "grit" and "depth" and knew exactly the story that would do it.
"The storyline is very near and dear to my heart. It is from a personal experience my brother had," Shuttleworth said.
She wrote the story of a woman, who after 18 years, finally has a chance to make up for a traumatic experience. But it comes with "dealing with the wreckage" of what happened in the past.
Last year, Shuttleworth decided to start her own production company and take the "golden opportunity" to produce the work, ensuring that she has a hand in ensuring her vision stays true.
"I'm passionate about every avenue of filmmaking," Shuttleworth said. "This is not going to be the last screenplay I am going to produce."
The cast features a range of experienced thespians — from an award-winning news anchor to actors who have appeared in television shows like "Star Trek: Voyager," "Sex and the City," "The Sopranos" and "Body of Proof" and movies including "The Manchurian Candidate" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" to stage actors. The cast includes Ernest Hemingway's great-granddaughter, Cristen Hemingway Jaynes, who is the editor of a literary magazine and making her film debut.
"It's a pretty phenomenal cast," Shuttleworth said, adding that the cast alone is enough to warrant considerations from the major festivals.
And behind those stars will be local actors in Adams. The Berkshire Film Commission had put Shuttleworth in touch with the town, knowing the middle school was vacant and is seeking local extras during the day of filming here. Town officials approved the company's use of the school earlier this month.
Without revealing too much, Shuttleworth said they'll be on screen at a "crucial part" of the film.
"The town and the Berkshire Film Commission has been so accommodating that it makes the process so enjoyable," Shuttleworth said. "We're looking forward to the fun part now."
The company will begin shooting the film in July with other locations in eastern Washington and buildings in New York. It should be post-production in August for release in the fall. While that may be a quick turn around, the preproduction work has been going on for two years.
"It's a pretty intensive process," Shuttleworth said.
In the fall, the company will be "casting a wide net" and submitting it to film festivals across the world. Shuttleworth hopes the film will be in festivals in New York City, Boston or Providence, R.I.
Katherine Hiler, who has appeared in The Kentucky Cycle on Broadway and in productons at the Public Theatre, Playwright's Horizons, The Kentucky Center, Mark Taper Forum and the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville among others. She is a veteran of the Sudance Institute Theatre Lab and the Eugene O'Neill Threatre Conference.
Cristen Hemingway Jaynes is the editor of the literary journal "chum" and published her first collection of short stories, "The Smallest of Entryways," recently. She is making her film debut.
Darrell Larson has had roles in "Rachel Getting Married," "The Manchurian Candidate," "Stepmom" and "Mike's Murder." He has appeared in multiple television shows, from a 1968 appearance in "Marcus Welby, M.D." to as recently as a 2010 appearance on "Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit."
Ethan Phillips has more than 140 film and television credits including "Green Card," "The Island," "Star Trek: Voyager" and recently finished filming "Inside Llewyn Davis," a Coen Brothers film. Also recently he has been performing on stage at Bard College.
Dan Shaked has recently had roles on the ABC show "Body of Proof" and the ABC pilot episode of "Gilded Lilys." Previously he has roles in "Follow Strangers" and "Storm up the Sky."
Phyllis Somerville, has had roles in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Big C," "Little Children," "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City." She has appeared on stage in "'Night Mother," "Spitfire Grill" and "The Night Hank Williams Died" among others.
Bill Tucker is an award-winning television reporter, anchor and producer as well as acting in independent and orignal stage productions. He has been a producer for CNN and Fox News. He currently works as a media consultant.
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