Independent film: after many obstacles, ‘In the Moon’s Shadow’ is home
“So few scripts are done,” says Debra Lord Cooke, originally from Maine, actress and professional casting. “They can just be ditched, and there are so many hurdles and pitfalls in making a feature film. It’s a miracle to even finish it.
And that’s even without a global pandemic, the company that supports your movie suddenly goes out of business and the toughest timeframe of a unique natural phenomenon to manage. This is the story of Maine (and Nebraska) from “In the shadow of the moonThe independent film starring Cooke whose 2019 production date on Internet Movie Database hides a terribly familiar story to all filmmakers in Maine looking to achieve a vision on limited resources.
The film, a drama about two estranged sisters (Cooke and Elissa Piszel) who embark on an eventful road trip to witness the first total solar eclipse from major viewing sites in Nebraska’s Sand Hills, is, according to Cooke, “A film that will strike your heart”, and has garnered great reviews and word of mouth from those who have been lucky enough to see it so far. With a haunting Maine’s own soundtrack Lady Lamb, the film, like so many promising independent projects, was gearing up to enter the landmark film festival circuit when COVID-19 hit, scuttling even that arduous and uncertain plan to secure wider distribution and audiences.
But, as Cooke from Belgrade says, “In the Moon’s Shadow” is “the little engine that could.” Succeed in “sneaking into the Hell’s Kitchen NYC Festival” in January 2019, and be invited to ours Maine International Film Festival as a work in progress (well received), “In the Moon’s Shadow” has managed to impress enough good people for distributors to call, with Green apple entertainment being ultimately chosen by the filmmakers. Now, the film is on track for its October 5 rollout, a journey more or less as grueling and emotional as that of the film’s beleaguered sisters.
Explaining that film director Alvin Case got the shocking news of the film’s loss of funding as he booked hotel rooms and researched venues for Nebraska highlight Cooke (a new theater veteran -Yorkis and movies like “The Congressman” and “Cafe Society”) were heartbroken. And then I got down to work. She and Piszel decided to fund the film themselves, forming the women-owned company Moon Shadow Pictures LLC, and doing everything from reading the script at the Belgrade Public Library to soliciting help from local businesses. of Maine to fill the shortfall.
“We were able to get as much production quality as possible with this small budget,” said Cooke, who opened the doors of his lake front house in Belgrade (along with that of his late father) to actors and l film crew. Shooting segments of the film in Maine in places she knows and loves so well was a real asset, and the varied surroundings of the Belgrade area “felt like there were more places than there is.” ‘were in reality. (The promised eclipse also, of course, helped Case grapple with competing Nebraska weather forecasts to find the right cloudless spot to capture spectacular footage.)
That Maine can spruce up any movie is no surprise to Maine filmmakers (or, indeed, anyone with eyes), as our state offers a lot of what the industry calls “value.” of production ”, with its lakes, mountains, forests ready to photograph, beaches, towns and quaint towns. Cooke, who has been a board member of the Maine Film Commission since 2002, has long pushed for Maine lawmakers to open their eyes to the possibilities of turning our state into a much sought-after filming center through tax incentives. for filmmaking, which she sees as essential to the Maine film community. Calling the current, gain momentum for such incentives, “an excellent, well-drafted piece of legislation that has addressed some of the concerns of the past and is totally focused on hiring people from Maine,” the well-versed Cooke is optimistic.
“I would love to have Maine support him,” Cooke said. “People are going to be surprised at how much this improves working conditions, keeps our young people here rather than having them relocate, and encourages the Maine film community.” Cooke, who is also an experienced person in the cast for Maine-based films like “The Faceless Man” and “In the Bedroom” and “Empire Falls” from HBO, also notes the green nature of these bills. as a plus, and says that such a welcoming government attitude towards touring productions (and spending cash) would only reflect the individual generosity she witnessed firsthand during the making of “In the Moon’s Shadow”. “.
“I have very deep roots here,” Cooke said, calling the Great Pond home where “In the Moon’s Shadow” filmed “a little slice of heaven you can’t find anywhere else”. Drawing on his decades of experience in show business and the history of the triumphant underdog “In the Moon’s Shadow”, Cooke points out that it is beyond time for the world to see this. that she sees in her country of origin.
“We’re ready to do it,” Cooke said. “We can continue to develop the infrastructure of trained crews and actors right here in Maine.”
Speaking of her long-standing relief that a movie she’s especially proud of will finally see the light (hopefully) of reopened movie screens, Cooke expresses the gratitude and pride of someone who put her into something. that she really believes. in – in the heart of Maine.
“In the Moon’s Shadow” hits theaters on October 5, followed by a streaming broadcast. To learn more about Debra Lord Cooke, visit her professional website at debralordcooke.com and she IMDb page.
Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.