BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) – A feature-length film is being produced inside Beckley’s Ambrosia Inn. As the crew wrapped up their first week of filming, Lootpress was able to step inside Ambrosia and get an in-depth look into the process of creating art in southern West Virginia.
“I just think that it is so amazing that we can make an Appalachian film that’s just funny and lighthearted and that people can enjoy, and it’ll be a good piece of escapism for people to see,” shared Kelsey Hofe, an actor in the film.
“Everybody is really high energy and really excited. We all have just been working nonstop every day…we’ve really just been hitting it hard and hit the ground running.”
From actors to interns to directors and everyone in between, the crew of Ambrosia wants to be an inspiration for aspiring artists in the state and show that a feature-length professional film can be accomplished close to home.
“I think this could be a big part of showing that you can do whatever you want even in your hometown,” said Saja Montague, the film’s producer.
Montague continued, stating that she hopes Ambrosia can break the stereotype of Appalachian-made films.
“It just feels really refreshing to be creating a film like this that is so lighthearted. It is really creator-based and different from any stereotype that the outside world gives Appalachia. It is nice knowing that we are doing our part in creating a better narrative.”
Written with the Ambrosia Inn in mind, Ambrosia is a comedy that takes place in one setting. It highlights the day in the life of the bed and breakfasts’ owner who most deal with the conflicting personalities of his visitors who are trapped inside due to poor weather.
“He has all these expectations, and throughout the course of the day, he just runs into setbacks, trials and tribulations,” shared Shane Pierce, co-writer and co-director of the film. “He just wants to make it from point A to point B and survive basically.”
The film, which is an all-West Virginian cast and crew, is a project of Butter Chicken Pictures, a broadcasting media production company created by Pierce and his partner David Gravely. Since 2015, the duo has filmed several feature-length films, short films and show segments. Now, they are tackling what Gravely says is one of their most surreal projects.
“I think the experience of making it is different,” he explained. “Everyone is in the house. When we get here, it feels like a set. People and staying in the inn, and it feels like a very active house that mimics what is happening on screen. Now that we have an actual space and people here from all over the state, it adds weight to the project and makes me feel better about it.”
Additionally, Piece mentioned that they wanted it to be very clear that the move takes place in southern West Virginia because it isn’t something that they have seen much of recently. They wanted to showcase the beauty and potential of the area while also doing the same for its artists.
Unlike some of their other films, where actors were paid in favors, Gravely said they wanted to offer competitive rates in terms of pay for this film.
To accomplish this, they hosted a 28-day crowdfunding campaign through Seed&Spark, raising $15,000 for the film’s budget.
While most of the budget went toward cast and crew’s salary, a portion has gone toward catering from small businesses in the area to help offset the setbacks of the pandemic.
Production Manager and Executive Producer Ann Worley says it has really been a community effort and expressed her appreciation for the numerous businesses that have provided food.
Worley also touched on the crew, which features local actors, interns from Marshall University and Duke University and Mountain Craft Productions, a company out of Charleston and Fairmont that is providing professional lighting, technology and sound.
“We are trying to build the arts here in Beckley,” Worley said. “A film industry is just on the beginnings. We can be a hub, and this is a good start.”
“It’s crazy,” Montague added. “Every day I come here, and we just create these amazing pieces of art, and it’s kind of really surreal. I think I am going to be chasing this feeling for a long time afterward, so I’m just soaking it in as much as possible.
“We are doing our best to make something beautiful and awesome…we have such a good marriage of creators; I just think we need a lot more support on a lot of different levels.”
Filming for Ambrosia began on Monday, May 3, and will wrap on Saturday, May 15.
When asked how they have managed to shoot a feature-length film in two weeks, Pierce attributed their success thus far to everyone’s hard work.
“Every ounce of daylight we are trying to make use of. We are starting at about 7:30 a.m. and going until we can squeeze that last bit of sun in,” he said, explaining that this usually puts cast and crew working 12 hours a day.
Once filming has wrapped, the film will enter into the postproduction stage. This will include color correction, editing, and handling the film’s score which is being produced by Peirce and Gravely.
According to Gravely, the film has no set release date yet.
As the crew finishes up a project that has been two years in the making, Gravely says he is thankful to the City of Beckley and its community of friends and family.
“I don’t know that Beckley is a film community; I don’t know that Beckley is an arts community, but these pieces have always been in place, and it feels so good to watch it actually fall into place.”