“I came down to Aberdeen just to try and write on some of my other projects, take some time at the beach and kind of relax,” said Aria.
Known simply as “Aria” in the Seattle independent film industry, and now well into fund raising for the production, the summer break for the Neo-Noir filmmaker has mushroomed into a feature film in the fictitious town of Grayport, set to be filmed in the Twin Harbors.
“I thought I might do a quick weekend project while I was here. I was missing friends and had my camera with me, so I went out to get started, to see what might happen.”
Aria, already with several credits to her name, is taking on her first feature length film on the heels of her success working in short films in the Seattle area.
“We have cast the film, the leads are local actors from Raymond, and we are now at a point that we need some additional funds for equipment and expenses as we start the filming after the first of the year.”
To help raise funds for the film, the Grayport team has started a Kickstarter fundraising project and is seeking $7,500.
“If you think of the cost that actually goes into making a feature length film, $7,500 is not much to ask for.”
And the Grayport team is not just asking, they are also giving back.
“We have many incentive items available for sponsors donating to the film. Special signed story boards, a possible feature as an extra, exclusive access to the set as we are filming, the list is wide and varied.”
Starting at the lowest $1 donation on the Kickstarter site; (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/843610842/grayport-noir-murder-mystery-feature-film/posts), a sponsor will get regular film updates and a personal Thank You on Facebook and Twitter and will be added to the wall of supporters. For a $5 donation, Grayport digital photographs and a streaming link to the finished film will be provided. When you jump up to $25, the sponsor will get mention in the film credits as well as a full HD version of the completed film via private download link. $75 gets you everything at the lower levels plus a “visit to the set” bonus. $125 includes signed art work and $250 gets you in the film as a featured extra or your name on one of the sets graffiti walls that will be featured in the film. As you increase your donation the gifts and incentives become greater and more tempting. Producer credits start at the $2,500 level.
“One possible for a business would be at the $5,500 donation level. At this level, a business will have a scene shot at their location with the main characters of the film. We will also help with a cross promotion of the business and host a dinner at La Petite in Olympia with myself. This is only available to one donor.”
The Kickstarter fundraiser is a limited time and will run through Dec. 21 and is currently just below the 50% mark of required funds. A complete list of incentives is on the Kickstarter page as listed above or go to Kickstarter and search on projects with the key word Grayport.
The city of Grayport is a fictitious town where a world-weary investigative reporter, Frank Blakely, looks to unravel a murder mystery. Blakey encounters the ruthless Cal Hastings in this gritty crime thriller. Shot in Neo-Noir film style, through the backdrop of Grays Harbor and Willapa Harbor, with plot twists that expose disturbing secrets and criminal conspiracy in the murder of the Mayor of Grayport.
For the role of Frank Blakely, Bob Parks of Raymond was selected after months of auditions. Playing his nemesis, another Raymond resident, Russell Wiitala. Both are seasoned actors most recently performing at the Raymond Community Theatre the Willapa Players. Additional Harborites include Lane Youmans and Robert Shaun Beebe.
“We hope to being filming after the New Year, if the Kickstarter raises the required funding. And we will be casting the leading women roles at that time.”
With Aria just looking to take a little time off and concentrate on other projects, the quick weekend film project that she was looking for evolved into what is now the buzz of the local community.
“The more people got involved, the quicker I realized that we could make Grayport a possibility. I have been greeted by elected city members who have opened up the city as far as locations and connections, volunteers who are looking to get involved in the project and an outpouring of enthusiasm for the project,” said Aria.
Being outside of the independent film community of Seattle, Aria also realized that she would need additional items, not readily available in the Harbor to pull this off.
“It all really started falling into place with the idea for Grayport coming from the historical locations in the Twin Harbors, my love and past experiences in film, and the additional enthusiasm from people around me. When I realized that I would need additional funding we set up the Kickstarter page. I know it is late in the year and close to the holidays, but we are already getting so close, with only the limited time it will be up.”
In Kickstarter, projects are funded by like individuals who wish to become part of the posted project. For Grayport and its small sum it has already drawn attention, but has yet to reach its mark. The Kickstarter for Grayport will only be open until Dec. 21.
“I really think it is a win-win situation at little risk for supporters, and if we do reach the goal, we look to start filming after the first of the year. And with post production and editing we hope to be finished by the end of the summer or sooner. It would be great to have the premier at the 7th Street theatre to let the community that supported it see it first.”
Earlier in the year, Grayport held auditions to start casting the male leading roles of Blakely and Hastings. The auditions caught they eye of many in community theatre and a pair of actors from Raymond, home to the Willipa Players, made it into the title roles. But for one actor, Bob Parks, he almost didn’t even show up…
“I was busy roofing my house and doing gutters, downspouts, repairing soffits, etc. so I blew off my friend who was telling me to come audition for the film,” said Parks.
His friend, Russ Wiitala, had already been at the auditions and thought Parks would be the perfect fit for the role of Blakely. Even with his lack of actual film experience, he decided to give it a try.
“I got an e-mail from Aria, she had heard of my reputation in Aberdeen and Raymond, and that I needed to get down to the audition.”
Parks, who had gained a theater arts degree from Washington State University came to Aberdeen as a teacher at Hopkins Junior High. His involvement in Community Theater started with the Driftwood Players playing dramatic to comedy to musical roles and has directed. His grandson, Shawn Friese, got a teaching job at South Bend High School and was given the drama club who reached out to his grandfather to help with a supporting role for a school production. It was from this point that Parks started his relationship with the Willapa Players, with a rough count of 100 performances to his credit.
Wiitala was handed the role of Hastings and could think of no one better to play opposite him than his friend Parks.
“A friend posted the auditions on Facebook. It is something I have wanted to do since I was a kid. So here was the chance to at least find out a little about film. As it turned out I got a part,” said Wittala.
For this Raymond resident a total just over 80 productions has been performed between the Hannan Playhouse and the Driftwood.
“I know the director, almost every time, puts me in the part that will fit me the best. This one was my favorite after reading for a while. I could tell that she was looking at me for that part. I read a few takes, and she told me what she wanted and I adjusted enough for her to see something she liked.”
“I am really impressed by Aria. She really has a good feel for what she is doing and the volunteers are great. It is just fun to be there,” said Wittala.
“So far all we have done is some publicity shots and videos but I am looking forward to shooting in locations and getting the whole gang together for some serious filming,” said Parks.
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