They were going with the rain plan.
With just five days left to film, the cast and crew of Unrequited faced something they have not seen much of in the previous three weeks of filming the teen psychological thriller in Central Kentucky: precipitation. But that meant they could easily adjust to shoot a key interior scene between troubled Ben Jacobs and his ex-girlfriend Jessica Morgan.
This didn’t faze actors Michael Welch and Sarah Habel.
“We’ve got some important stuff to do today,” Habel, who just came downstairs in the secluded Scott County home where they have been filming, cheerfully saids to director Jason Epperson.
Unrequited is an important film to most everyone involved.
For Kentucky-based Lucky Day Studios, it will be the debut feature that they hope will show they are capable of making high quality films.
For Winchester native Epperson, it will be his debut feature after making a name for himself nationwide as the first runner up on the Fox film director series On the Lot.
For Welch, it’s a chance to take the lead after getting on many movie fans’ radars with his supporting role in Twilight, and fellow actors such as Habel also hope to turn heads with their performances in the gritty drama.
And for much of the Kentucky-based crew, its a chance to put their best feet forward as brand new tax incentives could potentially start attracting more film work to Kentucky.
“The crew senses this is something meaningful,” Epperson says. “We want to all be successful together.”
And he and producer Jeff Day, co-owner of Lucky Day along with Tom Lockridge, Commonwealth Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit in Kentucky, sense sunny skies have been shining on the production.
“Everyone who has come to the set to work or watch us work has the impression that something special is happening here,” Day says.
As filming is set to wrap up on Sunday, July 19, Day and Epperson say their expect their film will look bigger than its modest budget, thanks to the generosity of some area property owners and others. Epperson recalls a night lest week when a 30 foot crane hung over the front yard of a house they were filming in to capture footage of a SWAT team advancing on that home where Ben was holding Jessica hostage, hoping to win back her love.
“They were coming through the fog with these big shadows, and I thought, ‘Man, you just don’t see stuff like that in movies with budgets our size,’” Epperson says.
But on bigger budget films, do you get the coziness of people getting so comfortable in a home where they are shooting that they call the lady of the house, “Mom”?
That’s what Terrie Greer answers to, whether it’s an assistant director from Los Angeles asking if there’s any white spray paint around or a local photographer thanking her for doing laundry.
Early in the morning, the house is quiet, the only evidence of filming being giant lights and stands in Greer’s dining room. Making coffee, Greer has a quiet conversation with Habel about vitamin supplements.
But as the day progresses, the house fills with equipment and crew. Many are locals, from people who work in filmmaking in the area to college students from film programs at Asbury College and Bluegrass Community and Technical College who are getting some experience.
“The classroom is great,” says Dallas-based producer Chad Gundersen, “but there is no better way to learn than being on a film set.”
Hopes are that once the film is finished and edited early in the fall, a distributor will pick it up and all their work will be seen around the world. Epperson has a “first look” contract with Paramount Pictures and others involved with the production have connections that guarantee the film will be seen by potential distributors.
They are also encouraged that an online buzz is building about the film, including more than 700 fans of its Facebook page.
“That’s pretty good for a little film being shot in Kentucky,” syas Epperson, who is hopeful that Unrequited will continue to exceed expectations and the rainy days will be few.