The Making of “Red Wing”
By: Dwayne Wilder, 08/06/2012 8:32 AM
In some ways, Patti Carpenter is like all other movie producers.
She is completely immersed in her ‘baby,’ – the story – the screenplay of words and settings that she wants to get on the screen to tell the world. She will ‘do lunch,’ and talk as long as you want about her production; her cast; her crew. She is a working producer!
But after being in her presence for a while and the formal questions are done, Carpenter shows a side many in the business don’t have: a giddiness – the good kind – for an artistic endeavor; for isn’t that what all films are (except for the mindless ‘action’ movies!)? Don’t you want to make something for all to see? Whether on a canvas or on a movie screen?
Carpenter comes by her passion honestly. She grew up doing theater/dance and continued into adulthood.
“I’ve always loved theater; I’ve danced,” explained Carpenter. “I did live theater for a long time, but I’ve always wanted to get into film.”
Her love affair with film prompted her to start her own production company with husband, Clyde: Integrity Film Productions. She met actor/director Will Wallace two years ago in southern California. He has been in about 15 films and is getting his feet wet directing now. They vowed to do a film together; the right one, of course!
Enter that opportunity: Carpenter met with Sunflower Productions’ Ed R. Pressman who had a script for her fledgling production company. Sunflower Productions has done about 80 films.
This was when “Red Wing” was brought to Carpenter’s attention. This story about the aspects of love is based on a French novella, “The Country Waif,” by George Sand. The screenplay was done by Kathleen Orillion, also from Sunflower Productions.
“It hooked my heart,” said Carpenter. “I knew it needed to come to life.”
With script, director and cast/crew in tact, Carpenter went on the paramount journey of finding a location to shoot. She admits much of her time this past year has been on this simple, yet vital, part to the puzzle. She also admits that it was ‘divine intervention’ that brought her to Whitewright, Texas.
“Will and I had been scouting for a year,” began Carpenter. “We would fly into San Antonio and ride north; we would fly into Austin and ride north. It’s beautiful, but not right for our story.”
Carpenter said she ‘prayerfully’ flew to Dallas and began the drive north. She visited Corsicana, Anna, Denton, even Bonham among others.
“A location can be a curse or a reward; so it has to be right,” said Carpenter. “We had heard about Utah and began our search there, but it was too spread out.”
With local location manager Susan Hamilton asking them to try Texas ‘one more time,’ it literally came down to the last place on the map for Carpenter.
“I had told her (Hamilton) to find me a Main Street to fit our vision,” recalled Carpenter. “We drove into Whitewright on a quiet Sunday morning; it was perfect. The streets were empty and everything was in its place. I knew: This is my downtown!”
Carpenter and her production company have shot all the scenes for the film within a 15 mile radius of Whitewright except for one scene in Denton. They have shot scenes at Whitewright’s bank, local barns, hardware store, feed/grain yards and restaurants.
“It’s a wonderful location,” said Carpenter. “We have a lot to thank them for here. The chamber has been wonderful!”
The project began shooting July 17 and should wrap up by Aug. 12, according to Carpenter. By then, the crew and production company would have been in Whitewright for seven weeks.
“It’s a solid four week shoot,” explained Carpenter. “We love Whitewright!”
During that seven week run, the cast, crew and Carpenters have supported the local economy by going to the Odeum Theater, eating at the restaurants and shopping at the stores.
“I love finding genuine people; I have yet to meet one person here who wasn’t open hearted,” said Carpenter. “This entire production is simply made up of ‘little miracles’.”
Carpenter is quick to praise her many crew leaders such as Sara Wallace, Will’s wife, who is the LA based casting director; Katrina Cook, the local casting director – she has employed more than 20 local actors for the project; and her line producer Mark Rickard, who is also co-producer. (As a production, they have hired more than 70 local people to help with the filming.)
“Most of the time, we have to ride two horses; wear two hats,” explained Carpenter. “Everyone is part of a family here; the ‘Red Wing’ family. They even call me, ‘Mom’.”
Oh, but get her to talking about her cast! Carpenter is excited about their work with the script and how they are bringing the story to life. Lead actress Breann Johnson plays Maddie Blanton; and the two ‘strong supporting leads,’ a young orphaned Francis and an adult Francis: Austin Harrod and Glen Powell, respectively, turn Carpenter into a mass of happy effusions!
“We are super excited to have Breann and Glen! They are special and will be in demand after this,” predicted Carpenter. “And our young Francis?! When we saw Austin, we knew ‘That’s our young Frances!’ because it brought tears to our eyes.”
One thing that Carpenter did worry about was the connection between these young actors and the seasoned actors that were going to be in the film. For instance, negotiations are still underway, but Carpenter hopes to have longtime actor Bill Paxton on board soon. He has been in “Twister” and “Apollo 13.” With Frances Fisher and Luke Perry already doing scenes, Carpenter wondered how it would all work out.
“These seasoned actors have been so good; so supportive,” she reported. “There will be some incredibly mean scene that calls for them to yell or hurt one of the younger actors in the story, but after filming, they will be apologizing and gentle with them. There is such a beautiful bond between them all.”
Carpenter knows she has her work cut out for her with this being her first feature film. As she puts it, ‘Integrity is a little fish in the ‘Big Waters’,’ since it is an independent company. Yet, she has all the faith in the world in the story, the actors and the people around her.
“I have a fabulous crew and the cast is exceptional,” said Carpenter. “We all want this story brought to life.”