After much anticipation and chatter around town, filming has begun on “Serenity Farm The Movie.” The low-budget thriller feature film showcasing local North Olympic Peninsula scenes — including a Victorian hotel in Port Townsend, the Holiday Inn in Sequim and the real Serenity Farm up Blue Mountain Road — started filming earlier this month. The cast and crew completed three 14-hour days and shot several key scenes.
“I’m exhausted,” said producer John Rodsett, who moved to Sequim three years ago from Miami and spends most of his time teaching independent film business seminars as “Mr. Film Biz.”
“Now I remember why shooting films is so tiring,” he said. Rodsett is an industry veteran, having sold and distributed more than 100 films, DVDs and television products globally.
With the help of film professionals from Los Angeles, who donated their time, Rodsett shot five different locations in Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend over the three-day period. Students from the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center assisted with sound, cameras and decorating.
“This is a very collaborative effort,” Rodsett said.
Taking a brief hiatus, production will continue with another seven days of filming in June followed by 10 more in July.
“It allows me to look at the footage we have, do some editing and give everybody a breather,” Rodsett said. “Plus, it keeps the costs low.”
Eight of the cast and crew members are from Sequim and the surrounding area and hold major parts in the movie.
Jim Shelly, of Sequim, plays the role of Ed Pennington, “a rather unscrupulous attorney who is the executor of a will being left to a young fellow in California,” Shelly said. “If the young fellow hadn’t shown up, I would have had the deed to Serenity Farm, the island, and this makes me a little angry.”
“The young fellow shows up in my office and I have to explain the inheritance and what’s involved in owning it to him,” Shelly said. “I kind of try to get him to just give it up, playing it down a bit, but I’m not able to.”
When the young man leaves, Shelly’s character gives him the impossible task of getting the island operating the way it’s supposed to in just 10 days. But his role doesn’t end there. Later in the movie, the Ed Pennington character goes to the island and doesn’t come back, Shelly said mysteriously.
Shelly, a retired railroad worker, worked as an extra in 15 movies during the early 1990s but never pursued acting any further. He appeared in a few well-known movies, including “Assassins” with Sylvester Stallone, in which he played a gangster, and “Sleepless in Seattle,” in which he played a New Year’s Eve patron.
“I loved every minute of it,” Shelly said. “But there weren’t a lot of roles for somebody in Washington state.”
About a month ago, Shelly saw an ad in the paper for “Serenity Farm.” Intrigued, he called and left a message.
“When they called me back they said I was exactly what they were looking for,” Shelly said. “They liked my voice.”
One thing led to another and Shelly got the part.
“It’s a lot of work. I’ve never done dialogue and there’s a lot of it, but everybody is very patient and if I make a mistake it’s not the end of the world — it’s just making a movie,” he said. “It’s definitely work but it’s also a lot of fun.”
In a nutshell, “Serenity Farm” takes place on a remote Northwest island at a children’s horse farm. Sinister events claim the lives of a number of the adult camp counselors.
The younger horse riders are evacuated, leaving the remaining young adult camp counselors, both male and female, the task of trying to find out what is going on and how these deaths have happened.
Jack, the new owner of the island, and an attractive female reporter are back on the mainland trying to find out the true story about what inhabits the island.
On the far side of the island they locate an abandoned bunker/tunnel complex in the side of the cliff. It’s there they are confronted by hooded creatures living in the dark depths of the complex. Fear, menace, revulsion and the nightmare of being hunted in the dark consume the remaining camp counselors, as one by one they die until only two survive.
The investigation reveals the disturbing event of a U.S. destroyer’s return from a humanitarian mission in Africa in the early 1960s, the disease it was transporting, the disease’s mutation and the catastrophic effects it had on one family.
A promotional trailer about the movie can be viewed online on the film’s Facebook.com page.
For more information about the movie, visit www.serenityfarmthemovie.com.