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Community comes together for film crew

August 29, 2014

Cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb (l) and Director Diego Contreras take a test run in Janet Guglielmino’s home to ensure they can get a clear shot through a light fog they produced to give their scene a more historic look. Photo by Mike Gervais

Community members from throughout the Owens Valley teamed up over the last couple weeks to help a group of out-of-the-area filmmakers turn a dream into a reality.
According to Production Manager James Parker, the team of filmmakers, including Director Diego Contreras and Cinematographer Khalid Mohtaseb, had plans to shoot a full week in Inyo County, with stops on Movie Road in Lone Pine and at Laws Railroad Museum in Bishop.
The project the crew is working on is a short, three-to five-minute film funded by Lincoln Motor Company. Inyo County Film Commissioner Chris Langley explained that Lincoln sought six directors with popular videos on to film six shorts. Contreras and Mohtaseb were selected to shoot two of those shorts.
While in the Eastern Sierra, the crew shot scenes for “Bloom,” a love story featuring two actors. The only stipulation Lincoln gave to the production was that one of the characters must drive a Lincoln. Contreras said the company provided a 2014 Lincoln MKZ, and sent the crew on its way.
Filming went off without a hitch in Lone Pine, with dozens of Southern Inyo residents pitching in as extras or to just help the crew out.
However, when the team made it to Bishop last week, plans began to fall apart. Unfortunately, Parker explained, there were liability issues with the scheduled shoot at Laws. Without that set, Parker said there wouldn’t be a film.
Luckily, in a small, tight- knit community like Bishop, everyone knows everyone else, and someone at Laws was able to get the film crew in touch with two Bishop residents who could help: Kellie Hallenbeck and Janet Guglielmino.
“I was approached by the producer and two directors to use my house for a short movie they were filming for Lincoln Motors,” Hallenbeck said. “I had just pulled up in my Towncar late Friday afternoon and thought maybe it was a roust for a home invasion. After grilling them with all the questions I could think of and realizing these guys were on the up and up, I asked if they would like to go inside to see if it was what they were looking for. They needed a period house bathroom and kitchen to match the look of the other house they were using. I agreed and with insurance matters out of the way they were free to film.”
Hallenbeck went on to say that the filmmakers were “friendly, enthusiastic professionals” who were considerate in every way.
During filming at her house, Gugliemino said it was exciting to see the work in progress, and she was intrigued at the crews methods.
“There’s no way we could have gotten this done without these amazing people helping us,” Parker said. “We’ve met some amazing people and there were a lot of locals who really helped.”
Langley said the communities of the Owens Valley are proud of the local film history, and really embrace local film projects. “I’ve been working with this crew for a month and a half. They stayed in Bishop because there were no rooms in Lone Pine,” Langley said. “Khalid, I think he’s really going to go somewhere. He really has an eye for detail. But all the planning in the world, and things can change. It’s always evolving in the film industry. We are really very lucky because Inyo is very much a film-friendly place. We work hard to make it happen,” which is a help, and sometimes an encouragement to hard-working filmmakers trying to pull a thousand details together.
Langley explained that while filming a scene on Movie Road in Lone Pine, the crew was in need of extras to fill out a party. He contacted Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce Director Kathleen New, who in turn contacted students at Lone Pine High School. Before the filmmakers began shooting, a literal bus-load of locals showed up to help out.
“It’s definitely been one of the craziest things I’ve been a part of,” Parker said of the local support his production has received.

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