Do you know the way to…Arcadia? Or, more importantly, do you know the way out?
Local musician and filmmaker Andy Hall has been hard at work bringing an underground cult of artists to life for his latest feature: Arcadia. What began as a short project inspired by the unpolished beauty of historic spaces in Marietta “grew like Frankenstein’s monster,” Hall says, into something much bigger.
“The story ends up being about a reporter (Jared) who finds the entrance to Arcadia and gets lost in its winding labyrinth of tunnels. He is brought into the fold and has to negotiate between getting the story he’s after and finding a way out, since they aren’t very forthcoming about the exit. Understandably, they see his story and presence as a threat. Along the way he has time to challenge his own concepts of home, routine, community and artistic satisfaction.”
Hall, an organizer of the annual Colony Film Festival, is the writer, director, cinematographer, art director and main editor of the film. Teaming up with him are executive producers Zane and Margaret Lazer, assistant director Donna Linsell, a volunteer crew and cast of local actors, including Yang Miller who plays Jared.
“Yang was introduced to me by a mutual friend. I was told ‘there’s this great actor from NYC in Athens right now taking a break.’ I saw his reel, and although it was mostly improv comedy, I saw that he would probably have fun with the more serious parts of Arcadia and could also inject some humor into the story. I was right! He’s insanely watchable on screen, which is also pretty important… I kept my eye out for actors that blew me away around town and wrote with specific people in mind.”
In addition to Miller, the film features Andy Felt, Rob Boone, Christy Love Lass, Isaac Eastwood, Casiah Felt, Jason Zyla, Brad Beck, and John Gradwohl (aka: Professor Bubble Maker.) Also included in Arcadia are The Burning Dawn Fire Performance Troupe, band Qiet, burlesque performers, silk dancers, and jugglers who lend a vintage carnival aesthetic to the film that Hall was aiming for.
Arcadia is the latest in a recent string of indie features being made in the Mid-Ohio Valley; many of the eerie, atmospheric variety.
“Local filmmakers are smart enough to know that distribution for horror is maybe a little easier than for drama, since even a low budget horror that’s fun can get picked up and appear on Netflix,” Hall says. “Some of it might be that those films are so fun to make; practical make up effects, occult art direction, jump scares, ominous moods are all fun to think up and execute well.”
Based on the recently released trailer, Arcadia will definitely be executed well. With beautiful tracking shots of such varied places as pre-prohibition era tunnels in Cincinnati, Marietta’s Colony Theatre and the lush forests of North Bend State Park, it appears this project is living up to its description as a “surreal adventure.” And that’s no small accomplishment for a self-taught filmmaker who started seriously experimenting only five years ago.
“I knew nothing about photography! I still only know what I need to know for each situation; I prepare for my next project like cramming for a test with YouTube tutorials. Storyboarding is a great tool to plan the compositions and help tell an emotional story. Every aspect really can be done well on a shoestring budget now: artistic lenses, camera movements, lighting and color correction, editing and sound design. The key is preparation and testing.”
Arcadia is set for DVD/Blu-Ray release this fall and will also be screened at the 2016 Colony Film Festival next March. Meanwhile, Hall and his production team are looking for some final stage corporate sponsorship. For more information, visit their facebook page.
Scarlet grew up in Parkersburg where she spent much of her formative years reenacting movies and chasing after lightning bugs. She earned a B.A. with honors in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago last year and now lives in Los Angeles where she is pursuing work as an actress. She jumps at any chance to stay connected to her beloved MOV!