Havre Daily News
Havre denizens are invited to get all dressed up, sip a little free champagne and take a gander at “Rosaries,” a farcical comedy filmed largely in Havre, on Oct. 28 at Cottonwood Cinema 4.
The movie, the first production from a local company called film DIONYSIA - founded by the leaders of Montana Actors' Theatre - is a comedic look at human greed and the extremes out-of-work actors will go to to make a little money and gain an audience.
The piece features local actors as both stars and extras, with more than 140 local residents gracing the screen, director Grant Olson said. Most scenes were shot in Havre, and a few were filmed in Chinook. The support of local people, businesses, churches and law enforcement agencies - there is a chase scene - was invaluable to the film's completion, the stars and production crew said.
The company has already entered the movie in the revered Sundance Film Festival and plans to enter it into other film festivals across the West, screenwriter Jay Pyette said.
Pyette and Olson also act in the film, starring alongside local actors Matt Warner, Sean Williams and Ashley Kane.
“Rosaries” follows a quartet of struggling actors as they launch a new venture, becoming professional performers of religious rites. It opens with the scene that inspired Pyette to write it, four elderly women performing a rosary. One is consistently out of rhythm, which tests the patience of Pyette's character, Bobby. “It actually happened,” Pyette said. “There were four women chanting the rosary, and one was off-beat. It just drove me crazy. The whole story just kind of came out of it.”
The struggling actors take center stage at a funeral, and the success of their eulogy, complete with costumes, smoke and flashing lights, leads them to broaden their repertoire with weddings and other religious events. The movie is not a jab at religion, Oslon said. Instead, it's a look at desperation, success and taking something to the moral extreme.
“They warp religion,” Olson said. “It's a very over-the-top comedy. It's a farce.”
“It's obvious these guys are crazy,” Warner said. “They decide they can do religious rites better and entertain people.”
Robin, played by Ashley Kane, is Olson's on-screen love interest. She tries to pull the guys back into reality.
“I'm the only voice of reason,” she said.
Pyette said those who attend the screening would be well-advised to leave children at home, as the film does contain adult language and situations.
Bringing that story to the big screen wasn't easy. It took the group about 15 months to complete the 93-minute movie. The challenge, Olson said, was learning how to use the camera.
“The first time we started shooting, we did one 10-minute scene,” he said. “We took three full days, and then we trashed it and reshot it. The second time, we shot it in one night.”
The lack of film experience and a few other problems - some actors didn't work out and had to be recast - caused the process to take longer than expected. The script was constantly reworked, with actors ad-libbing lines to make it all work together.
“We twisted scenes around as we filmed them,” Warner said.
Making the movie was a learning process, Olson said.
“By the end, we knew what we were doing,” Olson said. “It was a huge learning curve.”
“It was so dialogue-driven, we had to do a lot of different takes,” Warner said. “By the end ... all of us were willing to do as many takes as it took.”
Directors of photography Rob Everingham and Sean Williams said they were able to keep filming simple by using only one camera, but shooting with a single piece of equipment meant that many scenes had to be reshot from different angles.
The use of a crane-mounted camera and a “steady cam” - a device that allows the cameraman to move without jarring the shot - made the process a little easier, Everingham said.
Olson and others said they were pleased with the amount of cooperation from local people, some of whom were willing to wait several hours during the filming of some scenes.
Pyette said the cooperation from Holland & Bonine Funeral Home, St. Jude's Catholic Church and First Lutheran Church was especially helpful.
“They were so understanding,” Pyette said.
“It was very generous of them,” Olson said. “We were doing a religious-themed dark comedy.”
The group will find out in early December if the film made the cut for the Sundance Film Festival. About 8 percent of the submissions are shown at the festival, Pyette said.
The public is invited to attend the movie's first showing. The event will be free, and the movie will be shown in all four theaters at Cottonwood. Formal attire is requested.