“Lights, camera, action!” rang out at LuLu’s Homeport Restaurant on a drizzly April morning last spring. It was 5 a.m. when The Film Co. at Northwest Film Forum moved in, set up a ton of equipment, and stayed for the entire day.
Filmmaking had arrived on the Key Peninsula. It started with a search by the independent film company based in Seattle. They were looking for the perfect setting to represent a rural Northwest scene in the feature-length film “We Go Way Back.”
The story of the film is about 23-year-old Kate, a nice girl who can’t say no. She tries to make everyone around her happy—except herself. She senses vaguely that she’s lost her way, but has she actually lost her mind when her 13-year-old self appears in the backseat of her car? Her 13-year-old self is dissatisfied with the adult she has become. In an effort to get rid of the 13-year-old in the back seat, the main character walks into a bar; the bar is Homeport. Her child character, played by actor Maggie Brown, peers through the window and watches as her adult self, played by actor Amber Hubert, has a drink among the locals, played by Lakebay residents Phyllis and Art Olson.
“We were scenery,” says Art Olson. “All we did was sit and the action took place in front of me.” Olson guesses they shot the same scene about 32 times. He and Phyllis had to sit with imaginary drinks and Art had to smoke a cigarette. He told the film crew, after all the retakes to get the scene right, “I’m gonna die of lung cancer.”
When asked if this might be his Academy Award nomination, Art says he doesn’t think so. That prompted Homeport owner, LuLu Smith, to say, “He’s a big star around here anyway.”
Smith had nothing but praise and appreciation for the film producers and crew.
“All very nice,” she says. “You expect those people to be stuck up or something but everyone was very nice. I can’t believe they can do all they did in such a little space.”
The real-life Homeport bartender, Bobbie Trudgon, is the prettiest girl in town, according to Art Olson. Trudgon describes that day in April as a “big mess out here, though plenty exciting.”
Smith, Trudgon, the Olsons and a few local residents looked on as the film crew worked their magic. They produced an episode in the story where 23-year-old Kate picks up with a fellow in the bar, leaves with him, and walks up the street. Meanwhile, the child character, who watched through the window, is filmed outside walking in the rain and despondent.
“We Go Way Back” was written and directed by Lynn Shelton, a filmmaker, editor, actor and a product of the Art Institute of Seattle. She attended graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and worked with prominent New York experimental filmmakers. She has produced an award-winning documentary and her films have been screened at dozens of festivals and venues.
The Film Company is an initiative of The Northwest Film forum of Seattle. According to Joy Fairfield, production manager, the company is dedicated to energize and support the independent film community. It collaborates with innovative artists in the production of a yearly season of new work. The Film Company is the nation’s first nonprofit film studio.
In late August, “We Go Way Back” was submitted to the Sundance Film Festival. The results will be known around the first of next year, before the festival.
“Independent films are all about festivals,” says Fairfield. “You high profile them as much as you can. The distribution company comes to see the films (at festivals like Sundance). (Its) future is determined by festival play.”
In addition to the Sundance Film Festival, the film will be submitted to festivals in Germany and the Netherlands. Fairfield says she will report the festival results to the KP News.