Community Film Award and More

River Town Film Fest


Ernest Thompson receives key to the city of Clinton, NJ from Mayor Janice Kovach, while co-founder Kee Kee Buckley looks on
Mayor Janice Kovach hands Ernest a key to the city of Clinton, while Kee Kee Buckley looks on (photo by Rich Maxwell)

When Ernest was invited to screen his film HEAVENLY ANGLE at the inaugural River Town Film Festival, he had no idea he would be the inspiration for the festival’s theme: community. Co-founded by Mayor Janice Kovach and writer/producer Kee Kee Buckley, festival organizers transformed the historic and breathtakingly charming Clinton, New Jersey into a hub of art, film and music. Artists, filmmakers and musicians from all over the world gathered to celebrate one another’s talents.

The co-founders were so taken with Ernest’s unique and inclusive brand of community involvement they also established an award in his honor. During the closing ceremonies, they presented Ernest with the First Annual Ernest Thompson Award for Community Engagement. But the Mayor didn’t stop there, she also gave Ernest a key to the City of Clinton and invited him to make his next movie there.

With his partners in Whitebridge Farm Productions, Morgan Murphy and Lori Gigliotti Murphy, Ernest offered both HEAVENLY ANGLE and his first community film, TIME AND CHARGES, as On Location Training to anyone of any age and background interested in learning about every aspect of the filmmaking business. More than 800 people participated. And had their lives changed forever.

Ernest Thompson at River Town Film Festival
Ernest Thompson conducts a Q&A at the River Town Film Fest (photo by Rich Maxwell)

“I’ve been in this business for more than forty years and nothing has been more gratifying than making these two films with people who showed up eager to learn how movies are made and left having been part of something magical,” Ernest told the River Town audience.

HEAVENLY ANGLE is about a down-on-his-luck Hollywood filmmaker, Linus Van Scooter, who shows up in a little town in New Hampshire and cons its mayor and residents into putting money into a movie he has absolutely no intention of making. The scam works beautifully until his lovely and loyal muse has had enough of the game and leaves Linus to fend for himself, with no credit card or license and no choice but to make the movie. And, grudgingly, to accept that the woods are full of remarkably talented and passionate true believers, who, in turn, inspire Linus to embark on a hilarious and heartfelt journey back to the long-forgotten artist he once was.

“What can I say, Mayor, sometimes art imitates life.”

In addition to writing, directing and starring in HEAVENLY ANGLE, Ernest wrote lyrics to all of the songs and collaborated with Joe Deleault, who wrote all of the music, including the score. On the soundtrack are multi-Grammy nominee Joan Osborne, world-renowned fiddler Natalie MacMaster and resident singer with the Saturday Night Live Band Christine Ohlman (“The Beehive Queen”).

Ernest and Kerrin Thompson with Mik Kaminski, Eric Troyer, Glen Burtnik, Gordon Townsend, and Parthenon Huxley (Members of ELO Part II and Styx)
Ernest and Kerrin Thompson with Mik Kaminski, Eric Troyer, Glen Burtnik, Gordon Townsend, and Parthenon Huxley (Members of ELO Part II and Styx)

Performing the last night of the festival was The Orchestra, consisting of musicians from ELO Part II and Styx. They played classics as the audience danced and sang along, and celebrated having been part of this unforgettable weekend.

Ernest’s next film, slated to begin shooting in the fall, will be a sequel to ON GOLDEN POND. Currently, he’s writing the remake of PAPER CHASE and thinking about the limitless possibilities Clinton, N.J., with its circa 1800s buildings and photogenic Red Mill, has to offer.

To learn more about the River Town Film Festival, go to

To watch the trailer for HEAVENLY ANGLE, click here.

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