Local filmmakers have new film, festival ready for public

Photos by Tom Rivers: Mark and Rhonda Parker, pictured on the railroad tracks in Albion, have completed their third film. They will be screening, “Message in a Bottle” in upcoming events, including the WNY FAME Festival at GCC in Batavia on Sept. 15.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 September 2017 at 9:27 am

ALBION – Rhonda and Mark Parker have completed directing, filming and producing their third local film, and are ready for the public to see “Message in a Bottle.”

Mrs. Parker, the film’s writer and director, compares “Message” to “Stand By Me” with some fun elements of “The Goonies.”

“Message in a Bottle will be by far our most important film to date,” Parker said. “It touches on various social issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, bullying and animal abuse, but it is not drawing conclusions for the audience on any of these topics. If the film has an underlining theme, it is about the value of life – treating people with love and respect, regardless of their social status.”

Mark and Rhonda Parker shoot a scene for their new film on June 26, 2015 on Beaver Alley in Albion. The Parkers will be screening the film in upcoming events.

Most of the scenes were filmed in Orleans County, including Beaver Alley and Briggs Alley in Albion.

“The alleys give the feel of a city without being in a city,” Mrs. Parker said. “The are kind of gritty and edgy.”

She made her first film – “Friends Don’t Let Friends – Date Friends” – for her honor’s project at GCC about four years ago. Since then she has produced “Lonely Bananas” and now has her third production complete.

Mrs. Parker writes the scripts, directs and supervises. Her husband is the lead videographer and sound technician.

The Parkers lived in Albion for several years. They now liv win Lockport. They have named their film production company, Beaver Alley Studios.

“People said we couldn’t make a feature film,” Mrs. Parker said. “So we did. We’re trying to step it up with each film.”

Her first film – “Friends Don’t Let Friends – Date Friends” – was named the “Best Western New York Student Film” by the 2014 Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival Dreamer Awards. That film racked up six award nominations, including Best Comedy Feature, Best WNY Feature, Best WNY Student Film, Best WNY Director (Feature) for Rhonda Parker, Best WNY Screenplay (Feature) for Rhonda Parker, and Best Performance by a WNY Actress for Amelia Favata.

The new film will be presented to the public for the first time on Sept. 9 with a 7 p.m. showing at The Screening Room in Buffalo. The Rochester screening will be Sept. 10 at 12:30 at the Cinema. “Message” will also be shown at the WNY FAME festival at GCC in Batavia at 8 p.m. on Sept. 15.

See the Message in a Bottle Trailer by clicking here.

The poster for Message in the Bottle includes Jack Champion (Timmy), Emma Morrison (Emily) and Matthew Owen Kozak (Johnny).

According to a synopsis of the film:

“A trio of young teens’ lives are changed forever when they go on a journey to rescue a kid sending eerie notes down stream in bottles.

“Johnny Tatro (Matthew Owen Kozak) is a passionate young teen that has been mislabeled due to skeletons in his family closet. His sarcastic, socially immature best friend, Timmy (Jack Champion) has been sheltered his entire life due to medical issues.

“Emily (Emma Morrison) is a young women trying to get out from under her sister’s shadow and find her own identity. Each set out on this Journey to an unknown destination for their own reasons and a shared bond of friendship. Can the optimism of youth survive the harsh light of day?”

Rhonda has another film written. “Life Boat” is a psychological thriller and morality tale. She would like to hire a famous actor to draw more attention to the film.

“We’re looking for investors and benefactors who want to support the arts,” she said.

The Parkers are the main organizers behind the second annual film, music and arts festival at Genesee Community College in Batavia.

The WNY Film, Art and Music Event takes place from Sept. 15-17 with three days of local and international films, a singer/songwriter competition and various educational workshops at GCC. (Visit wnyfame.com to see the schedule.)

The festival opens at noon on Friday, Sept. 15, with four hours of documentaries, including Motxila21, about a band with members who have Downs Syndrome. At 4 p.m. there will be an Artist trading card workshop sponsored by Blick art materials, followed by acoustic music by Mark Parker. At 6 p.m. there is a block of films with strong female leads, including the local films “The Assassin Game” and “Persona.” “Persona” is a sci-fi/thriller about a woman induced with dissociative identity disorder by a clandestine group in our government.

Rhonda Parker, front left, and her husband Mark, kneeling with camera, work on a shot as part of their newest film in this photo from June 26, 2015.

Saturday, Sept. 16, begins with a singer songwriter competition. Eight musical acts will compete for their chance to win “The Golden Record.” The variety of country, folk, rock, blues and pop music features: The Stationwagon Band , Ally Rose, Donnie O’Keefe, Katie Ann Grossi, Rhiannon, The Heenan Brothers, Sera Bullis and Creative Spirit. The competition will feature a combination of American Idol Style judging and an audience vote to determine the winner.

The evening film blocks begin with some international a local films including “Dress Rehearsal” about a method actor that goes too far, and “A Table Discussion.” It also includes a local film by a first time Director, “My Glorious Meltdown,” and a web series about a real life video game called “Steryotypica.” At 8 p.m. there are four films with comedy or romance, including a local mock-umentary about the Lucille Ball statue near Jamestown, called “Scary Lucy.” This is followed by a feature film, On the 7th date, about a couple who come to terms with a relationship that is going nowhere, and decide to spend the night being themselves.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, The day begins with international music videos, followed by a Charcoal and Chalk workshop. At 1 p.m. there will be movie themed comedy, followed by a Song Pop Game Show. At 2 p.m. there will be a screenwriting workshop, followed by a movie block with short films that are tackling tough topics, such as coping with death.

The 5 p.m. movie block features various short films that are thriller or horror based including a zombie film about lovers who are dealing with relationship problems as the world comes to an end. There are also two stop-motion films created by a local filmmaker. The 8 p.m. block includes dramatic ans suspenseful films from all over the world, including two from WNY. “Sociopathy” is about a very manipulative little boy, while “Tales of Darkened Light” is a Hitchcock like series.

The award ceremony follows.

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