TOO MAGICAL TO MENTION
by Ernest Thompson ~
If you made the drive this summer from the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where my movie ON GOLDEN POND was shot, across to Waterville, Maine, then down to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, you’d be tracing the mythical journey Whitebridge Farm Productions has been on the last few years; we just took the long way.
Our first movie, TIME AND CHARGES, will have its world premiere at the Maine International Film Festival in July. Our second, HEAVENLY ANGLE, will have its at Woods Hole. What can I say? I’m a storyteller; that’s magic.
It started while raising capital for my script Elysian Farm. I watched the steady stream of actors and writers, cinematographers and composers attending our workshops and classes, and everywhere I looked I saw talent and commitment and unbridled enthusiasm. “Let’s put them to work,” I said to my partners Morgan Murphy and Lori Gigliotti Murphy. They said, very gently, “We have no money,” and I said, “Okay, let’s start Sunday.”
On a lot of Sundays from then on, nearly two years of them, we shot TIME AND CHARGES, working from a script I hadn’t even finished when we began and that grew as our company grew. We offered the project as On Location Training and more than 500 people accepted our invitation to come learn whatever aspect of filmmaking they were interested in. Some carried cables, some stopped traffic, some were actors, some extras, some painted signs, and some played music. Some lent us their homes or cars; everyone gave us time; no one asked for anything in return, other than to be part of something amazing.
As the weeks, then months, then years passed and I worked nights with my young editor and our footage evolved into a film, I began to appreciate two things simultaneously: one, we were getting what no studio movie could ever afford – four seasons (twice) and two, a longtime dream of mine was coming true – to have a company of actors and artists I could call on, who would allow me to challenge them and lead them to places they’d perhaps never gone before, largely because they’d never been given the chance.
You’ll see some recognizable faces in TIME AND CHARGES, but you won’t see stars. There aren’t a lot of A-Listers who’d come to New Hampshire, forever, and make a movie for free. I know about stars; I’ve worked with a few. I’ve had the most serendipitous career and have loved (almost) every actor I’ve had the pleasure of writing for and acting with and directing, but our Whitebridge stable is as good it gets. Some actors in TIME AND CHARGES had never been in front of a camera before; some had years of experience; all of them seemed genuinely to love what we were doing and give truly terrific performances. See the movie; you’ll see what I mean.
TIME AND CHARGES is about integrity. I play a hotshot mogul who’s misplaced his and needs to face his demons and his past, and the daughter he never knew he had, to earn his way back to the essential truths we all carry in our hearts.
If TIME AND CHARGES is a funny movie, and it’s full of laughs, HEAVENLY ANGLE is a riot. It’s about independent moviemaking; what could be more hilarious? In it, my character’s a director who comes to a little town in New Hampshire to (pretend to) make a movie, hoping to separate the locals from their money, and ends up having to make the movie. And discovers that the hills are teeming with talented and committed and enthusiastic artists, eager to be part of something amazing. I know what you’re thinking: how does he come up with this stuff?
There’s a question filmmakers answer when submitting films to festivals – when was it finished? Tomorrow morning comes to mind. In a cornucopia of gifts, that’s been one of the greatest, not having someone with a stopwatch and calculator tell me how off-schedule and over-budget I am. When you don’t have either one, you have something else – freedom to keep working, keep filming if you need to, rewrite, reshoot, reshape. When one of your editors has a day job and another’s still a student, your timeline gets wonky, but that’s okay, too. Give me another day; I’ll give you another scene. Or song; I wrote the lyrics to most of them on the two soundtracks and got to collaborate with some truly world-class musicians, Natalie MacMaster, Joan Osborne, Christine Ohlman, and New Hampshire-based Joe Deleault, who composed both films’ scores.
And now it’s a pleasure, it’s a privilege, to share the movies with audiences. It’ll be nice to get distribution so we can repay some of the kindness we’ve been shown, but stay on the road with us; this magical mystery tour’s just getting started. I have suitcases of stories and a company of beautiful actors to tell them with. TIME AND CHARGES and HEAVENLY ANGLE might be small in budget, but their hearts are huge. You’ll see.
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