Thursday, February 21, 2013

Front Page News!

(My little story about Pasghetti Western made the front page of The Herald today, along with six of my still shots from the movie.  Yay local papers!  Yay local film makers! (and family!)  Yay my kids!  Yay me!)

Hollywood in the hills, specifically, Royalton's Gee Hill, where husband and wife team, Jim and Myra Hudson, along with family and friends have spent the last year making a rousing, nostalgic Western.  The plot revolves around a plucky, hardscrabble ranch woman, burdened with babies galore, trying to make ends meet while her husband is off seeking his fortune.  In this old-time comedy, the farm grows closer and closer to rock bottom as bandits make off with animals and supplies in attempts to sabotage the family and take over their beloved ranch.  Meanwhile, the local sheriff finds no leads and the family must eventually take the law into their own hands.  We won't spoil the ending for you, but promise that your funny bone will have the workout of it's life.  The film is chock full of colorful peeks into 1800's rural life, edge-of-seat drama, and a toe tapping soundtrack.     

But wait, you haven't heard the best part! In an ambitious move, the Hudsons have peopled their first feature film with nothing but children, mostly under the age of nine.  Even the horses are miniature, the sets scaled down, and the acting absolutely unscripted.  Out of the mouths of babes comes some of the truest and funniest lines as the pint sized stars follow basic directions and then... generally just do whatever they want.  Wigs are randomly flung into streams, noses are picked, friends are pinched, horses take off in the wrong directions.   Each day has found the directors needing the patience of a saint, eyes in the backs of their heads, and complete adaptability for those unpredictable times on set when half of the cast members are crying and overdue for their naps.  Imagine Steven Spielberg walking into a daycare and trying to make a movie...Talented director or not, he's got nothing on the Hudson's bravery! 

Married four years, with three sons, Raven, 16, Oliver, 3 and Gideon, 1, Myra and Jim are no strangers to adventure.  Living high on the hill, off the grid, in a hand-made, straw bale home at the end of a nearly inaccessible winter driveway, every day holds a new challenge.  Jim's day job is as a 7th generation farrier and takes him all over New England while Myra is a stay-at-home mother and artist after having previously been a teacher.  The talents and interests between them are, horses, snowboarding, biking, painting, sculpting, cooking, music, creating...friends believe there isn't ANYTHING the pair can't do, and do well.  Being invited to dinner at their home is like stepping into a time machine.  Served a gourmet meal by candle light, you sit in a medieval fairy-tale surrounding, secretly hoping that you'll never be able to make it down their treacherous driveway again, and will simply have to stay forever!  

Always starting new and wild projects, the Hudson's extended family didn't bat an eye when it was announced a feature movie would be in the works.  All being fabulous cooks, (including Raven, their teenage son, who has just won a Jr Iron Chef award!) last Christmas they had produced a small batch of movies as gifts: a comical cooking show that was met with great enthusiasm and much urging that they make another.     

When asked what prompted this nutty, children's movie idea, the Hudson couple replied, with a wry laugh..."Having kids!" They splurged on good filming equipment because, as Jim says, "We wanted to make sure at least one thing was dependable!" "But," Myra adds, "we've lost track of how many times the camera and tripod have crashed over due to curious toddlers, wrestling dogs or our own carelessness. Thank goodness it's still working!"  She continues: " 'Pasghetti Western' has been such a wonderful family effort...our own boys, many of our friend's children and all of our small nieces and nephews have had a blast on this project and we can't wait to debut it later this winter.  The whole goal was to have fun, make the kids feel like they had a part a the creative turns out, they have the best ideas of all!  None of us will ever forget this year." 

It would be a hard thing to forget!  With the movie still in it's final edits and yet to be released, the trailer is already being shared all over the world.  And as plans for the debut come to fruitation, it seems that the Hudsons and all their wee stars will enjoy this success for a long time to come.  What they ended up creating is something both classic, yet delightfully original.  A time worn tale, told from a very fresh angle, destined to be a hit the moment it opens. 

 Myra, as a gifted seamstress, has designed and made most of the elaborate costumes herself, and the children are attired in amazingly authentic outfits that would be the envy of any Gibson Girl or Wild West Cattle Rustler.  The female lead, played by a very talented, nine year old niece, Lily Hudson, looks gorgeous in her many clothing changes throughout the film.  Lily routinely sports a huge, pompadour hairdo, mutton sleeves and outrageous bustled dresses.  A natural for the part, she manages to remain cool as a cucumber despite juggling farm chores, animals, uncountable smaller children underfoot, and a wig that nearly overpowers her.  The thieves look very fittingly filthy in fringed chaps and  grubby ten gallon hats as they systematically pick off Lily's livestock and scurry away to their hideout in the nearby woods.  The rest of the town's folk, shopkeepers, law officers, saloon girls, and of course, Lily's many children, are resplendent in custom costumes that are hysterically adult.  "The good thing about dressing kids for a Western," confided Myra to a worried parent on set who was trying to keep their child's costume crisp, "is you can let 'em get dirty and it only adds to it."  She chuckled as the little boy squirmed free of his mother's grasp and rolled on the ground.  "I can't imagine trying to keep them perfectly clean while they're waiting, nobody would have ANY fun then!"  And fun it has been.  Other than the occasional spat between the married directors..."Where's the extra battery pack?  I thought I TOLD you to put it in the diaper bag!" and a couple over-tired meltdowns...most scenes have been made with minimal stress and terrific results.  And with great cooks running the show, the food on set has been mouthwatering as well.  The tiny actors may go home tired after a long day on set, but never hungry!

Many of the sets and props were painstakingly built in miniature, with Jim working around local elements as much as adorable, mountainside, crooked cabin belonging to a family member, a re staged section of their own home, friend's various barnyards and outbuildings, parts of Antique Hill on the Tunbridge Fairgrounds, the lovely vistas around Hitching Post Farm in South Royalton.  As my own children have parts in this film, I have been lucky enough to watch the creative process from the inside and am duly impressed with the effort put forth by the Hudsons.  They both have a wonderful eye, keen sense of humor, easy-going nature, and an enviable natural ability with both directing and catching those, perfect, unguarded moments of childhood on film.  With determination, they have also mastered a complicated professional movie editing program that normally takes years to learn.       

A premier will be announced sometime next month and we look forward to our areas first all children film.  Children and adults alike will enjoy this adorable movie.  You can't miss "Pasghetti Western" coming soon to very select theatres near you!  You can find the trailer on YouTube or visit the Pasghetti Western page on facebook for updates. 

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