Ernest Thompson (right) on the set of his newest film, “Time and Changes,” alongside cinematographer and editor Jamie Sharps. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
July 18, 2012NEW HAMPTON — Playwright Ernest Thompson's name seems to be everywhere this summer, with his Oscar-winning play (and movie) "On Golden Pond" shining brightly on the stage in Laconia.
Thompson, for the first time, is playing the mailman, 'Charlie,' in his own play, and also directing it at Pitman's Freight Room theater on New Salem Street in the city.
While the 'Pond' is certainly of main import this summer, another accomplishment by Thompson has been attained with the premiere of his new film, "Time and Charges." The full-length movie played to an invitation only crowd of film participants in June.
Taking two years to film and edit, the film was shown to an enthusiastic crowd in the McEvoy Theater at the New Hampton School. Not a seat was empty as those who made the film possible watched the final product (some post-production still going on) from beginning to end. Thompson asked the crowd to refrain from pointing at themselves and friends, calling out during the movie and exclaiming during the show and as the credits for 500 rolled.
The reason for the enthusiasm was due mainly to the fact that none of the 500 actors, extras and crew were paid, and they gave hundreds of hours to produce the film. Filming took place in extreme weather, from the heat of a New Hampshire summer to the freezing winter temperatures. Actors and crew braved the elements more than once to film a few scenes at the top of Rattlesnake Mountain, and on the frozen surface of Big Squam Lake; tack on an added trip to New York City to film 'authentic' scenes, and viewers that night were thrilled to see what it took to finally bring the film to completion.
After credits rolled, Thompson called down his many stars to thank and his right-hand man, cinematographer and editor Jamie Sharps, for giving untold hours with the rest of crew and more than a hundred extras. Most of those involved had little or no experience in any aspect of filmmaking. Some, like Matt Cheney, answered a 'general' cast call for extras and crew. Cheney found himself, the first day of filming in the fall of 2010, with a boom pole placed in his hand and directions to 'record some sound.'
Local New Hampshire famed musicians like Joe Droukas and Art Harriman were among other artists who also performed in the film.
Unlike other plays and films he has written and produced, "Time and Charges" was filmed through all four seasons, and showcases the New Hampshire background which always inspires Thompson in his productions.
"It's a valentine to New Hampshire," he has said.
"Time and Charges" is described by Thompson as "a time-bending adventure through the parallel universes of money and love." Thompson plays Jeremiah Ward, a man so driven by his insatiable demons that he literally can't stay on the road. (He veers off the main road at Exit 22, which does not exist, to find himself back in the '60's).
Thompson said a vintage '60's police cruiser parked beside the road in New Hampton near his production studio, Whitebridge Farm, gave him the idea for the movie. The film is written and directed by Thompson.
Morgan Murphy (Thompson's Production studio partner, along with Morgan's wife, Lori) added about "Time and Charges": "Five hundred people and businesses from New Hampshire made 'Time and Charges,' and we thank each and every one of them for joining us on a movie that will have a long life. Make sure you see it, too."
"Time and Charges" will now move on to film festivals around the country.
Whitebridge Farm Productions, developed by Thompson and partners Morgan and Lori Gigliott Murphy, is a film and theater production studio company in the Lakes Region. They also offer acting and writing workshops while producing independent film and theater projects. Not resting on his laurels, Thompson is in post-production for two more films, "Heavenly Angle" and "Elysian Farm," that he has written and directed. More information on the workshops can be found on the Whitebridge productions Web site or the official Ernest Thompson Web site.
While waiting to see Thompson's new movies, though, you can see his famous play, "On Golden Pond," now in Laconia at Pitman's Freight Room Theater. For the first time, Thompson plays the part of 'Charlie' the mailman. Call the box office at 707-7806 for reservations, or go on-line at OnGoldenPond,org for ticket information.. Hours for shows are evenings at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Matinee performances are 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through August 12. Ticket prices range from $25-$45. Children under 18 pay their age at Family Shows on July 31 and Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. Senior, student and group rates are also available.