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Horror on Main Street!

The lobby of the Rialto was transformed into a set for a feature film on Monday. The Lancaster Theater was the setting for the meeting between a group of seven adventurers and a concession worker, shown, who lends her knowledge of the local geography and lore to the party in the horror film “Yellowbrickroad”. (Photo by Melissa Grima) (click for larger version)
June 10, 2009
LANCASTER — The cast and crew of a full-length motion picture filming in Pittsburg (N.H. not Penn.) took a detour to the Lancaster area this week and is expecting to return briefly before the end of the month. The group is shooting a horror/thriller titled "Yellowbrickroad" and set in the fictional town of Friar, New Hampshire.

Filming of the few scenes staged in Lancaster shut down Main Street briefly on Monday morning. Traffic was re-routed onto Summer Street while the movie-makers filmed the action outside the Rialto Theatre. By around 10 a.m., when the filming moved inside, normal traffic flow resumed through town. The Rialto is the setting for key parts of the film near the beginning of the story of seven people hunting for a lost trailhead — they find it and then "all sorts of mysterious events befall them," explained the film's producer Eric Hungerford. Inside the theatre a concession worker who has lived in Friar all her life helps point the group in the right direction.

"Yellowbrickroad" is the first independent feature film written and directed by Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland. The men both grew up in New England, are avid hikers, and attended college in Middlebury, Vt. According to Eric, the script for the flick was written specifically with New Hampshire's Great North Woods in mind for the setting.

"This is a little bit of a homecoming for me," said Andy, who hails originally from the Boston area but has been living in Los Angeles pursuing his film career. He explained that he wrote the screenplay for this very specific place, focusing on the wilderness in Pittsburg as the backdrop for his psychological thriller.

The setting was important, Andy said, because the area has become a character in the film. Andy said he and Jesse were inspired to buck the trend and get back to the not-so-in-your-face horror movies of the 1970s. He points to movies like "The Shining", where the action and relationships spur the imagination and no real gore is needed to get the audience to feel the situation.

"The scariest films leave it up to your imagination," Eric explained.

Andy agreed and noted that "Yellowbrickroad" uses the adventure to grab viewers before bringing in the supernatural elements. "This movie gets its hooks in you as an adventure story," he said. Andy explained that in keeping with the theater background of those involved he and Jesse prefer to "let the characters and relationships drive the story," noting that although it's a horror film, "this is really a story about people."

The story about people hasn't been confined to the action in front of the lens, however. Eric said the reception the production crew has gotten both in Pittsburg — where the outdoor scenes are being filmed — and Lancaster, has been more than they hoped for. There had been some concern about how the small towns, where filming isn't commonplace, would take the intrusion. "Everyone's been great," Eric said. Not familiar with small town life, he was surprised at how quickly news traveled and pleasantly surprised by the calls and offers of food and rides for the cast and crew.

The owners of the Rialto, as well as the Lancaster police, were very cooperative with Monday's venture, Eric said. All of which has made the participants feel welcome in the community and "make it a whole lot more fun," Andy said.

A week of filming in the three-and-a-half week schedule has already been completed and after Monday's venture into town, the group was ready to head north again to continue shooting in the Pittsburg wilderness. Eric said they are planning to be back in Lancaster shooting "pickups" ¬ ¬— (defined by Wikipedia as: minor shots filmed after the primary filming of a movie to augment what has already been shot) — in the Rialto in about two weeks.

Since the film is an independent work there is no release schedule or distributor on board yet. Eric explained that it could be defined as a speculative venture. Once the movie is made then a buyer will be sought to distribute the film. More information can be found at the movie website www.yellowbrickroadthemovie.com.

Martin Lord Osman
Coos County Commissioners
Martin Lord & Osman
Tilton School
Town & Country
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