Indie film shoots in Lititz!
Local spots throughout Lancaster County and surrounding areas are now the scenes of an independent film being created by Outlaw Studios. Perhaps you saw them while you were hiking in Mount Gretna, strolling through Lititz Springs Park, catching a movie at Lily’s on Main, grabbing a beer at Tellus360 or browsing for books at Aaron’s Bookstore &tstr; Andrew Bailey and Doug Roy with their filming equipment and Scott Lentz directing the studio’s first full length feature film.
“It’s all about telling a story. I get heavily invested in characters,” said Lentz. “I want to write that transcendent character that sticks in someone’s head and might inspire them down the road.”
New York actor Greggory Barr plays the main character of the movie, “Acoustic Hearts,” which is a musical drama about a musician and essentially the story behind the song.
“This movie was really inspired by music,” said Lentz.
Barr, who is a musician in real life, is performing the music in the film and all music is directed by Rob Stehly. Along with the film, the studio will be releasing an album to go with it.
Outlaw Studios is a local independent films studio. Lentz and Bailey met in college, and that is where they made their first short film together in 2008. Bailey, who grew up in Manheim Township, came home from college and was working at Erb Brothers Landscaping where he met Doug Roy, a Lancaster native who has a commercial art background and an interest in film. Becoming fast friends, Bailey invited Roy to help them on a set they were filming in Lancaster and so he came to join Outlaw Studios. Now, Lentz and Roy live in Lititz and Bailey is working in Pittsburgh. They all have full-time jobs and do the filming on the side.
The crew has made several short films of all different genres and won awards. For Lentz, the most memorable award was the Golden Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival for the movie “Guys with Girl Problems.” It was the first award they won and Lentz was there to accept it. He did an acceptance speech on the stage of the Hilton in Vegas where Elvis once performed.
The same film also screened in Los Angeles, and this was the first time that Lentz got to see one of their films play in a theater.
“It was such a cool thing to see it up on the big screen,” said Lentz.
“Acoustic Hearts” has been in development since last year, but filming started in June. The movie was filmed between summer and fall, and part of it is present time with flashbacks to the past. To show that time has passed, Barr, a method actor, cut his hair, shaved his beard and lost weight for the second half of the filming, which took place on Oct. 20.
“It’s a different animal than we’ve done before,” said Lentz.
With a very low budget and none of the actors being paid, they film with what they call a guerilla style, often changing the location at the last minute. When the cast has the free time to travel to Lancaster, they get together to shoot the film. They might be planning on shooting outdoor scenes and it rains.
“We just have to fly with it,” said Roy. “Things have to happen.”
Part of making things happen is developing relationships with local businesses, who get a movie credit by letting them film there.
“Everybody’s just been really, really cool and we make great relationships with people,” said Roy.
With this being their third production filmed in Lancaster, they filmed at about 10 different locations.
“It’s not as easy as you think,” said Roy. Whereas before they had a small crew and could film the entire movie in two days, doing a full length feature required them to film at least six different times with a crew of 10 to 15 people.
“I mean we took over a whole section of Lancaster’s train station so we had to call Amtrak ahead of time,” said Roy. TSA needed to know who everyone was and what was in their bags. Even recording major scenes on a city street require permission. If it is just someone walking down the street for a quick scene, you are okay. If you are taking up an entire block for a scene, you have to contact the local film commission.
They choose to film in Lancaster not only because they live here but because of its diversity.
“You can travel 15 minutes away and be in hilly, mountainous territory and game lands and all that, and then 15 minutes the other direction and you’re in downtown Lancaster,” said Roy.
“We’ve got just about everything but a dessert,” said Lentz.
During the first half of their filming, they shot a scene at Lily’s on Main in Ephrata.
“They pulled out the red carpet,” said Roy of the local movie theater.
“They’re not the only ones,” said Lentz. “The amount of support we’ve gotten from the community has just been incredible. It really is what made this happen.”
On Oct. 20 the crew wrapped up their final scenes in Lititz at the park and Aaron’s Bookstore. Arriving at the bookstore, the owners knew they were coming and were quick to ask what they could do to help. Bailey and Roy set up their recording equipment while Lentz came in a few minutes later with Barr and actress Aubrey Loftus from Philadelphia. The actors changed their clothes in between the proposal scene shot in the park and the bookstore scene. Lentz shared what he envisioned for the scene and Bailey and Roy moved their equipment again. They made sure they were on the same settings so all scenes are shot in the same light.
Loftus and Barr got into position as directed by Lentz, filming a scene of the main character meeting his first love. The actors playfully peeked over their books at each other, capturing a realistic scene of flirting.
“They’re trying to make a movie and all they’re going to hear is your mom in the background making toilet paper jokes,” said a passerby as he tried to move his family out of the way. People were very polite about not wanting to interrupt the filming.
“We don’t have any sound,” said Loftus, smiling.
Now that the filming is done, there are a few things to wrap up and then the movie will go into the final stages of post-production, music and sound.
Their goal for the film is to start at their local film festivals and branch out from there to gain publicity.
“There are a lot of film festivals all around the world that are not out of reach,” said Roy.
The studio has no desire to sell their film to a large studio where they will get a small amount of money while the larger studio goes on to make millions, like what happened with “The Blair Witch Project.” Despite this, they do hope to explore ways to make monetary gain from the film and are exploring online distribution options in this changing industry.
“It’s a really, really interesting industry,” said Lentz.
They plan on premiering their movie locally, and Lily’s on Main is their top consideration right now. The movie will likely not release until summer 2015, so that is a long way off.
“You can’t help but think in the back of your mind, what we need to plan for,” said Roy.
They are excited to see how far they have come in their talent. Their other films are available to watch online, and they have a tradition to watch their entire portfolio before releasing their next movie.
“Each project we do, we want to push the limit past what we did before,” said Roy.
“We know we can do it now,” added Lentz. “Just that inspires us. We did it once, why can’t we do it again?”
Lenay Ruhl is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.