SEWARD, Alaska – Filming for Yellow Brick Film’s fifth movie production, “Sugar Mountain,” an independent drama thriller set in and around Seward, will start March 3rd, and will run through April 11th. The 10 people who have come to Seward to set things rolling; the director, cinematographer, costumer, designer and production team, have already discovered many spectacular locations in which to film, said director Richard Gray. The Australian film director had been in town for almost three weeks, along with his family. The crew and cast in Seward will eventually increase to around 40 or 50 people, he said.
The main story is about two brothers, down on their luck, who fake a disappearance in the wilderness so that they will have a great survival story to tell. But the hoax turns out to be more real than they had planned.
Having interesting or particularly scenic locations are important to this low-budget film, and will give it its character. The sites chosen thus far include the Caines Head Trail, Victor Creek, Lost Lake, the old railway bridge outside of town, Two Lakes Trail, Fourth of July Creek, Fourth of July Beach, SMIC Shipyard, and the Seward Small Boat Harbor. Gray also hopes to film at the Pit Bar, and possibly other places around Seward that they have scouted out, such as the police station, town jail and volunteer fire department.
The weather has been “stunning” so far, Gray said, and everyone has been incredibly helpful to the crew, especially Exit Glacier Guides, the harbormaster and his staff, the city manager and city staff, the police chief and his department, and the Seward Chamber of Commerce. Their assistance in locating interesting sites, such as an old mine shaft and railroad tunnel will make “Sugar Mountain” a better movie, he said. The town’s also been providing accommodations, RV’s and other forms of transportation, and the company will eventually be employing caterers and hiring locals as crew, extras, or even to play small roles.
The Yellow Brick production crew is experiencing seeing some of the same kind of hospitality as Seward extended to the producers of “Christmas with a Capital C,” that was filmed in Seward in the winter of 2010, starring Daniel Baldwin. That film continues to be widely shown on cable television.
“Sugar Mountain” was to have been filmed in a small town in upstate New York, but was moved to Seward after Gray visited Anchorage for a showing of one of his previous movies, and was told by the director of that movie about Seward, its scenery and hospitality.
“I think we’re pretty lucky,” said Seward Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cindy Clock. “Sugar Mountain” has a bigger budget than “Christmas with a Capital C” did, she said, so the town can expect to see a larger boost to its local economy at a time in which Seward generally doesn’t get a lot of activity. The movie also will provide some additional jobs for residents during the off-season, and business for restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfast places, and the local car rental company.
The cast has yet to be announced, but having a movie made in Seward, with well-known actors is a great promotional opportunity that the chamber can take advantage of through its social media outlets and brochures, she said. The film, which will be shown throughout the U.S. by the summer of 2015, and as many as 56 countries abroad, should heighten more people’s awareness of Seward, and the businesses that appear in its credits.
It would be great if the word gets out among filmmakers that Seward is a friendly place to film, along the road system just a few hour’s drive from the Anchorage airport, Clock said. With the Alaska film tax credit available, perhaps more productions will come this way, creating another economic engine to help fuel the town’s small, but diverse economy.
Yellow Brick will announce the cast within the next two weeks, Gray said. They hope locals will be involved as extras, in small supporting roles, or even in crewing. Those interested in jobs, auditioning for a part, or being an extra, should email the company a photo of themselves at firstname.lastname@example.org . Those hoping to audition for a part should also detail their experience in the theater, television or film. Extras can expect four-hour shifts during normal weekday hours, and occasional evenings.
The cast is also still looking to rent local vehicles, especially RVs, even those that have been winterized. If you can help with that, email email@example.com
By Heidi Zemach for Seward City News