LAKE WYLIE — Residents of Lake Wylie may consider the area “the perfect setting,” but for two residents, it’s the perfect set.
Award-winning screenplay writer William Blake and his Autumn Cove neighbor Louise Summey, owner and producer of Ellie Productions, LLC and York Technical College graduate, teamed up for the first time earlier this summer to shoot Blake’s plot-twisting short film “Debris.” All of the locations for filming were in Lake Wylie, including Landing Village in Shoppes at the Landing, Lake Wylie Tax office and three houses in their neighborhood.
“We shot for four days, most of the days 12 to 14 hours,” said Summey via telephone en route to be part of production crew for a movie being shot in Forest City, N.C. “We’re still in the process of editing.”
Once edited, Summey said she will pass it on to create the musical score. She expects the film, going direct to DVD, to be ready by the end of the year and will be available online at EllieProductions.us. Progress on the film can be viewed on the “Debris” or Ellie Productions Facebook pages.
Blake plans to have a preview filming with the all-volunteer cast and crew.
“I love the fact that that’s the first movie I’ve written that I’ve ever seen,” said Blake, 47, who won Best Screenplay for “Pros and Cons” in April among a list of nearly 50 finalists during the fifth annual Charleston International Film Festival.
In fact, Summey and Blake said they’d wanted to work together for a while.
“After Charleston, it was perfect timing to capitalize on it and give him more exposure as a screenwriter,” Summey said. “The timing was right and it all fell into place. I’m just proud he entrusted me with his script.”
“It’s long hard hours but I just love seeing the script come to life in front of the camera,” she said. “You’re just kind of in your own little world at the moment.”
“Debris,” a short film about 22 minutes long, is the story of two families who become inextricably linked in the wake of a fatal commuter plane crash when a mischievous teenager ventures to the crash site and stumbles onto a dead passenger’s suitcase.
“A serious plot twist is hard to do properly in a short film,” Blake said.
So far in the process, Blake is happy with what he is seeing.
“I liked it. It’s so raw with 10 versions of one scene,” he said.
While Blake let first-time film producer Summey and first-time director Nick Black of Charlotte do what they do best, he and his wife, Teresa, took care of the all-volunteer cast and crew, providing food and drinks throughout the 100-plus degree temps while shooting in June.
The Blakes’ home, in fact, was one of the locations. Although his 11-year-old daughter, Taylor, who also was an extra for “Debris,” had outgrown her bunk bed and had been begging for a new one, Blake admitted he wasn’t quite ready to make the change.
“I knew we’d be filming in her room,” he said. “That bed was the perfect size for the pre-teen character.”
Alongside friends and family, they also created the props for sets, for example at the site of the airplane crash, creating the crosses and finishing touches, as well as converting a Christmas wreath into a memorial wreath with the help of local Magnolia House Florist, Blake said, right down to writing the love letter.
“A love letter played a big part, and I had to cobble together a fictitious love letter that fit the plot,” Blake said.
And Blake also kept an old, broken carry-on luggage bag.
“I beat it up more with a hammer and ripped it,” he said. “Everything is in our bonus room, and I’m keeping it until I’m sure we’re not going to need them. I’m a neat freak, so it’s a little rough.”
The “roughest” part for Summey, she said, was getting the cast and crew schedules coordinated.
“The spirit of people giving of their time to make this project work was really spectacular,” Summey said.
With volunteers, like Keith Bailey who designed 150 pieces for “Hunger Games,” filmed in North Carolina, and lead actor Craig Beck coming from Savannah, Ga., Blake is humbled.
“Just the fact that all these people wanted to be a part of this project, and did it without pay and came from as far as Savannah, they had as much passion for the film as I did,” he said.
Before “Debris” is even completed, Blake’s envisioning his next film, a drama thriller.
“I’m hoping to work with Louise on the next one,” he said.
But the movie-going experience will forever be altered for Blake.
“You watch movies differently after you’ve seen one filmed,” he said. “You notice the little details that you take for granted when you’re watching.”
His ultimate goal: “To be in the short film category at the Oscars.”
But he’s not stopping there.
“I’m still working on my full-length feature, ‘Blood Feud,’” he said.
Executive Producer: William Blake;
Director: Nick Black
Director of Photography/Post Productions: Nathan Butts
Casting Director: Kim Davis;
Assistants to Producer: Cathy Boots, Beth Murphy
Props: Taylor Blake, William Blake, Louise Summey
Craft Service: Tersa Blake
Bill Parker: Craig Beck
Angela Parker: Kathy Butler Sandvoss
Kenny Parker: Caleb Miller
Molly Parker: Kayli Tolleson
Josh Ferkel: Sam Misenheimer
Elizabeth Lundahl: Janice Michelle Wyatt
Amanda Lundahl: Taylor Grace Davis
Police officer: Roy Mills