The creators of the Cass-based film “Angel’s Perch” have returned to Pocahontas County to film the dark comedy “Auld Lang Syne,” at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Penned by Kimberly Dilts, the script began in an unusual way.
“Instead of with the story, I started with what our limitation was, which was location,” Dilts said. “So, I started with a cabin and my imagination populated the cabin with characters. From there, the story kind of emerged.”
The story follows six longtime friends who get together every New Year’s Eve for a party.
“This year, their lives kind of fall spectacularly apart,” Dilts said. “It’s like “The Big Chill” for our generation – without the dead body. This one is very different from “Angel’s Perch.” It’s a comedy. It’s probably going to be an R-rated comedy just for language. It’s a little bit of a different demographic.”
Unlike “Angel’s Perch,” the film was not specifically based in Pocahontas County – the setting just kind of fit.
“When I first conceived of the film, obviously I thought it would definitely be possible to shoot it here,” Dilts said. “I didn’t think that the logistics were going to make sense if we would have had everyone come from Los Angeles, but what ended up happening was that half of our cast and our director were coming from New York, so it actually, suddenly became possible for us to do it here.”
Once Dilts decided for sure that they would film in Pocahontas County, the next step was to find a cabin. After contacting Snowshoe Mountain Resort COO Frank DeBerry, everything came together and fell into place much like it did four years ago for “Angel’s Perch.”
“The same support we were shown for “Angel’s Perch” is what we were shown this time and on such a tiny budget, that’s really, really meaningful,” Dilts said. “We had every single meal donated to us. It was totally extraordinary. It was just a dream.”
One of the many donations to the film crew was pies – lots and lots of pies.
“We had so much pie donated,” Dilts said, laughing. “More pie than any independent film has the right to have donated. Homemade pie – unbelievable.”
Not to give too much away, but at some point in the film, there may or may not be a food fight which required pies.
“The pies were not just donated for the actual shoot, but for dinners – it was incredible,” Dilts said. “I say the film is about pie. There is a little bit of a food fight that happens and there are pies involved, so that’s sort of how it started. I don’t know if people automatically got that, but whenever someone would make us a meal, they would deliver the meal with two beautiful homemade pies.”
Dilts and husband, J.T. Arbogast, who wrote and starred in “Angel’s Perch” were excited to share Pocahontas County with the cast and crew, a lot of whom are also good friends of the couple.
“The cast and crew – a lot of them are our close friends – but most of them have never been here, so it was really special for us to share the place with them,” Dilts said. “They were just knocked over because it’s so beautiful and they were just treated so well.”
This time around, Dilts is writer, producer and one of the stars of the film. Wearing so many hats was daunting at times, but Dilts found a way to be in front of and behind the camera.
“I thought it would’ve been harder,” she said. “Having watched J.T. go through it in “Angel’s Perch” I could see how, essentially what you do is you put on a different hat when you become the actor and part of that transition is just hiring a director that you really, really trust. I would follow Johanna [McKeon] into a fire. I really trust her so it actually was a great collaboration.”
Dilts is joined by Arbogast in the ensemble cast.
The film wrapped last week after an astonishing short seven days of shooting. Once the film is completed, Dilts and Arbogast will take it on the festival circuit.
“With this film, because it doesn’t have a built-in audience in the same way that “Angel’s Perch” did, this one is more of a festival film,” Dilts said. “We will hope to premiere at one of the festivals in early 2016 and then do a festival run. Then, it will hopefully be available online and on cable.”
While the film didn’t need as much help for the cast and crew from locals, Dilts said it was amazing how the community reached out to help with the film in any way possible.
“I’m not being hyperbolic when I say it is extraordinary the support we’ve had here in West Virginia,” she said. “This film would not have been possible in the same way if we had done it in California or in New York. The amount of community support was overwhelming, so we’re just grateful to the community here for helping us make it happen.
“You just sort of spend the entire time being stressed out like you’re being chased by a tiger, but really excited because the work is really good, but also with this huge humble heart because everyone is being so generous,” Dilts continued. “It’s a really interesting experience.”
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org