An aerial view of the location on Spruce Lake where they intend on filming ‘The Cabin’.
by Dave Warner
Another movie producer is taking a hard look at producing his film in Little Falls. The Cabin, by Casey Baker, is about James, who seemingly has it all: the girl, the house in the city, and the fancy job. After being named CEO of his company, James goes away for a weekend and comes back to find his office romance scandal has been leaked and he must resign immediately. He loses everything, so he goes up to his family’s cabin.
Little does James know that going up to the cabin will bring back more painful memories than he bargained for. His father is there, and both he and James are forced to face the demons they’ve carefully hidden away for so long.
Rob Mayes, known for ‘Thor, Ragnarok’ & ‘Mistresses’ is set to play James and Robin Curtis, known for her roles in the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, will play Marge. Elizabeth Blake-Thomas, a British award-winning filmmaker and philanthropist based in Los Angeles will direct.
Baker has a background in business, negotiating contracts for the defense industry, and sort of fell into the film industry. He’s from the central New York area but left when he was 18 years old with the intention of never coming back.
“I came back to the area while I was negotiating contracts for corporate America and because my mother got sick with early-onset Alzheimer’s. I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible,” he said.
He has always been a big film fan and was interested in writing. “In December of 2014, I went to the movie theater and I saw the film Wild with Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. That true story of mother/daughter inspired me to put my personal mother/son story down on paper. I chose to do it in the form of a screenplay.”
Baker ended up teaching himself how to write a screenplay. “You go to Barnes & Noble and buy a book called ‘How to Write a Screenplay’ and you think you know what you’re doing,” he stated. “When you have someone review it, you realize how awful it is.”
He kept at it though, trying to get it right, while writing twenty-nine different drafts. He finally found a great mentor named John Collee from Australia that took him under his wing. “He’s a very accomplished screenwriter. He helped me out and sent me on my way, and that’s when doors started opening.”
From that, his first movie was born. “I was so passionate about the way it was going to be told that I opened up my own film production company, and I started teaching myself and learning about producing. So now I’m a writer and a producer, and I’m marching forward with various projects of all sizes, but starting out small because I’m just getting my feet wet,” he said.
He says that you have to be persistent and have thick skin to make it in the film industry. “A lot of people have connections, a famous last name or a lot of money. Or, they went to university for this type of thing, so it’s unusual to start the way I have.”
“I think it takes just one passion project to get things going and as soon as the doors start opening, you just have to walk through them to see what you get.”
Baker feels that not only is Little Falls a great location for The Cabin, but he’s also looking at shooting another movie in the area as well, one that is a semi-autobiographical mother/son story that he wrote. Exterior shots and foliage could be shot as early as this fall for the second film. “Because The Cabin is going to be such a quick shoot, probably one week of prep and a two-week shoot, we’ll do that one first. Elizabeth (my director) uses her own crew and she’s able to turn around these small films like nothing.”
Elizabeth Blake-Thomas, who originally came up with the script idea said, “We all love shooting somewhere different. The vibe of the film was always very wintery. I’m a filmmaker that likes to make things that are a bit controversial, but they are conversation starters. They are coming from a different place because I feel as a filmmaker I have a responsibility to get these stories out there.”
She says that she dreamt of this story. “It was an older chap that has this incident when he was younger, his brother died, and this whole movie came into my mind crystal clear. I wrote it down as an LGBTQ story, but I didn’t have a name for it to start with, I was just telling the story.”
Blake-Thomas came up with the first version, but then ran into Baker in Toronto and asked him if he would like to write it. “We’ve gone back and forth with ideas and I think we’re on the third or fourth draft now, and it’s really been honed and he understands the elements that I wanted to get across with the characters,” she stated.
“I like it when people go to watch something that’s not all fast and furious, where people really get to know characters and they take their time in understanding the film. I want people to be able to grow with this and understand it and feel the tension between the characters,” said Blake-Thomas.
She said that Baker has been working very hard to find the exact location for the film. “I need the lake to be there, I need to shoot it in winter, it’s a really sensory overload type of movie because you need to have an understanding of how cold it is, and you want them to feel the fire and want them to understand what it was like for them not having a relationship.”
“Every family has a dark secret and this is what I want the audience to feel. We want to go from the very bright feel of New York City to this cabin and have a haunting feel. It was very crucial for me,” stated Blake-Thomas.
She said that with cast and crew, there will be about twenty people coming in to create a very emotive story. “I think that suits Little Falls very well. I even love the name, Little Falls. I don’t know what the rules are, but I’d love to incorporate that in the actual name of the place.”
Right now, they are doing the groundwork to see what costs are going to be up here and they are still trying to raise $300,000 for the movie. “I think Little Falls has everything that we need, and I’d be happy to make it by the end of the year,” she said.
Baker also believes the City is perfect for the film. “The majority of the film will be shot there (Spruce Lake), but we do have other locations that would be necessary and I thought Little Falls would be perfect. We need a funeral home, a bar, we need a small market, and then the outside, your Main Street? It almost has a Western look to it.”
“I think this film has potential. It’s a drama, and there’s a bit of fresh air in there, with the supporting role of Marge, played by Robin Curtis. She’s kind of that light airy character that you need in a drama to carry it through. A lot of times, a film like this is the kind that film festivals like,” he said. “I really think it will be good on the festival circuit, but you never know.”
“I think there’s a chance for Elizabeth to pull a performance out of them (the actors) that will get a lot of attention,” said Baker.