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Orleans picked for location of indie film

Posted 15 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Albion resident making film for college Honors project

Photos by Sue Cook – Main characters Della (Amelia Favata) and Kyle (Adam Dixson) overdramatically look at the art during a scene that is meant to be reminiscent of ’80s teen movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

ALBION – Drawing from personal inspiration, Rhonda Parker of Albion spent 20 years conceptualizing, adjusting and writing her script for a romantic comedy.

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Date Friends” is the result of this dedicated work and will be released this fall.

The cast includes more than 35 people, which includes smaller roles in the film. Parker says that if extras were included into the count, the number of people in the movie would run into the hundreds.

“Friends Don’t Let Friends Date Friends” is the story of Della Regal, an emotionally unavailable young woman full of sarcastic humor, as she watches her friends fall in and out of love around her. As the film progresses, she finds herself conflicted over feelings for two different male friends. She is both happy for them and the girls they are with, but also feels irritated and annoyed about the situation.

Amelia Favata has the role of Della in the film and is no stranger to acting. She has been acting since she was 10 years old and has an associate’s degree in Theater Arts. Favata comes from Canandaigua each weekend to complete her scenes. In her everyday life, she is a barista at Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters.

“I hope people will fall in love with the characters and be emotionally engaged,” she said. “I hope they can relate to the story and, most importantly, laugh! After all, this is a comedy. I am very proud to be working on such a unique project. The script is what initially got me excited because it was so funny and well thought out. The characters are lovable and relatable. This is a quality film fueled by passion, talent and love.”

Erik Witkowski, playing Jeff in the film, said, “I think people will watch this film and be able to relate in so many ways to their personal life. Everyone has had ‘that’ friend. We’ve heard on many occasions that hindsight is 20/20 and as a friend you may have wished you intervened on a relationship, only to watch it crash and burn.”

Director Rhonda Parker (bottom left) poses with participants in her film including actors, crew and Marti’s on Main Street business owner Kim Martillotta Muscarella (2nd from left in top row).

Parker is making the film as her Honors program project. She is attending GCC for degrees as a paralegal and also for Communication Media Arts. She hopes everyone will be impressed with the end result after the amount of work and time put into the film by not just herself, but also her cast and crew.

The movie has taken place entirely in Orleans County. Parker and her husband Mark, who is cameraman for the film, live in Albion and are natives of the county, so they knew they wanted the area as their choice of location.

“It’s very much the promoting, diversity, unity and the beauty of New York, the local flavor,” Mrs. Parker said. “I’m not just making it here because it’s where I’m at; I love it here. This is where the story was born. This is where it needs to take place.”

While many shoot locations were flexible, such as homes, bridges and cemeteries, others required planning and permission from local business owners. The Lighthouse Restaurant in Point Breeze, Della’s Chocolates and Rudy’s in Medina, and The Main Street Store and Marti’s on Main Art Gallery have used for scenes.

Upcoming scenes will be filmed in the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church in Albion and the Shirt Factory Cafe in Medina. There is also a secret, undisclosed location for the finale that will take place in Albion.

Mark Parker films a scene with Michael O’Keefe (kneeling) instructing characters Della and Kyle in a drawing exercise.

“Everyone enjoys us being there and they get as involved as they can. Waitresses get to be waitresses in the film, art gallery browsers get to be onlookers in the film. It’s pretty cool,” said Adam Dixson who has the main male role of Kyle Montgomery.

Dixson is a resident of Oakfield and was very excited to work on a film so close to home.

“The cemetery was more like a park and the entire layout of it was very picturesque and peaceful. We got some cool photos there too,” said Favata, referring to Mt. Albion Cemetery. “I also loved the art at Marti’s on Main. I myself really love art and actually used to draw and paint all the time. Everyone has been really supportive and on board with us filming and seemed to have fun too.”

Parker will be wrapping up filming around the first weekend in July. After that, her husband will edit the film with her input. Mark will also be writing two or three original songs for the film as well. Parker appreciates the work that everyone is putting in and is very happy with the actors she chose.

“The individual actors bring so much to it that makes it come alive,” she said. “They come up with ideas and aren’t afraid to share them with me and then it makes everything brilliant. There’s no pretentiousness at all on set, it’s just fun. It’s just people that are genuinely fun and enjoying each others company and making art.”

Local artist, Michael O’Keefe, was able use his talent in the film. During his scene in Marti’s on Main, he was able to use a technique he created that he nicknamed Channart, which means channeled art.

Two people are paired up with one person holding the pen and the other person holding the drawer’s wrist. Without looking at the paper, the wrist-holder does most of the movement. Neither person looks at the paper while they draw together. The end result looks abstract, but full of fluidity and motion.

“It was Rhonda’s dream to do something like this and she did,” said O’Keefe. “We’re getting great art and great ideas.”

The film will be released in the fall to DVD, Blu-Ray, digital download and streaming. To see the teaser trailer click here. For more information and behind-the-scenes of the film, visit the film’s Facebook page.

Parker would love more community participation in her film, especially with two large wedding scenes coming up. Many extras are needed for upcoming scenes and more crew members are also being sought after for simple tasks (age 18 and older). She would also love to give local bands the chance to submit music for inclusion in the film.

To discuss opportunities for participation, e-mail rparker8@my.genesee.edu.