An abundance of local, independent productions get underway each year in Wilmington. Despite the cut of film incentives, there’s a homegrown crew that’s willing to devote a multitude of long, hard days and hours that go into making a film. Such passionate, steadfast people have made Dock Street Productions’ “Finding Home” a possibility.
The production will be completed throughout a 14-day shoot held later this month, with 5 percent of the funds procured from a Film 5k run the organization put on last month. The run helped raise awareness about the continued presence of film on our local scene despite state government’s interference to do away with our prior competitive film incentive package.
Dock Street Productions’ Kickstarter campaign raised around $12,000 for the production as well. The film—which is set to premiere this November as part of a series of National Adoption Day events—looks to examine what a home really is.
“I asked my actors to think about their house as a blank canvas,” screenwriter, director and Brunswick County PE teacher Nick Westfall tells. “’Now what is the very first thing you would have to have in your house in order to call it home?’”
The story takes a closer look at values and delves deep into understanding what does make a home comfortable. “When you’re born into a house that represents all of your parents’ values, then that’s whats normal to you,” Westfall continues. “When you’re adopted, say at the age of 10, you’ve already started developing your own values, so it’s up to you and your adoptive parents to find common ground.”
Westfall says this story is perfect for the film medium, which he received a masters in from Full Sail University. “It will inform people of the adoption process while giving them a inquiry into values,” he notes.
Westfall moved to Wilmington from Holden Beach in November 2014. Coming from a mother who was adopted, he knows first-hand the struggles many children face. As such, he was inspired to address the myriad misconceptions surrounding adoption and the foster care system with a script. His passion-filled script attracted the attention of now-assistant director Amber Adams.
Despite talented, hard-working film enthusiasts fleeing our town for work—most of them relocating to Georgia, which is brimming with film work—finding a crew was less painstaking than Westfall assumed. He lauds the investment his cast and crew have shown toward the film; their connectivity has driven its completion.
“I [gather] the entire cast and crew around and [we] grab each others’ shoulders while I try to come up with some philosophical quote I either stole from Henry David Thoreau or Robert Pirsig,” Westfall informs. “That’s how we end every meeting! Then we all put our hands in the middle like a basketball team and say something like, ‘Finding Home’ on three. It seems cheesy but having a positive cast and crew is so important to me as a director.”
The film stars local talents Abel Zukerman, Cullen Moss, Tamara Mercer, and Lee Williams. They’re still looking for extras and a few crew members (email firstname.lastname@example.org). Westfall wants the film to create social change in the world of adoption and enlighten audiences to a struggle that often is ignored. It won’t be the first movie Westfall has made on social issues; he made one on bullying at the behest of his 5th-grade students with 30 crew members. While “Change, a Virginia Williamson Story” only made it online on YouTube. He has greater expectations for “Finding Home.”
“I believe faith is leaps and bounds ahead of hope, so I’ll say I have faith in ‘Finding Home’ getting distribution, having a wonderful festival circuit, and becoming a significant source of raising awareness to the social issues surrounding adoption,” Westfall comments. “More importantly, like I tell my crew and often have to tell myself, we’re going to make a movie that we’d like to see. That’s the only thing within our control.”
When it comes to filming, the production will be spending a the vast majority of their funds in Wilmington. Craft services, equipment, locations, costuming and other needs funnel money throughout the local economy. And Dock Street Productions already has their sights on project number two that will be filmed here. They’re on the brink of finishing the script, a social-issues project tentatively titled “Self Help.” —Christian Podgaysky