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Homegrown movie premieres this weekend
Former South Kitsap High School student Tom Henry set a lofty goal of beginning his first movie by the time he turned 24.
“And on my 24th birthday last July, we were filming a scene for my movie,” said Henry, who graduated in 2003 and now helps teach students in the school’s video production classes.
The movie is now complete and will premiere for audiences this weekend at the Orchard Theater in downtown Port Orchard. Called “That Scottish Play,” in reference to Macbeth, the movie is co-written and directed by Henry and stars three fellow SKHS grads.
Henry said he’s had a passion for acting since he “was a wee, little lad” that eventually evolved into a desire to direct after watching the movies and career path of director Kevin Smith.
“I read that he made ‘Clerks’ when he was 23 with $26,000,” Henry said, referring to the bare bones, black-and-white film about two clerks who spend more time talking than working that put Smith on the cinematic map in 1994.
Smith’s next movie, “Mallrats,” is the first Smith movie Henry remembers seeing, but it was “Chasing Amy,” Smith’s movie about a love triangle between two guys and a girl — with one small twist — that really struck a chord.
In fact, Henry described his movie as what would happen if you put “Chasing Amy” and 2007’s “Superbad” in a blender “and hit frappe,” adding that he feels he definitely didn’t “rip off Smith,” but there are eelments of Smith’s movies in his.
“It feels a lot like ‘Clerks,’ especially with the language — it’s pretty harsh,” he said, adding that while one scene was filmed at the high school over the summer, his movie was “not sanctioned by the school at all.” And while it has not been officially rated, Henry said the movie is not appropriate for teen viewers, and those under 17 will not be admitted.
The film’s story centers around Ben and Chris — played by 2003 SKHS grads Nick Knight and Chris Nelson — who have “been friends for life” and on the cusp of adulthood.
When a girl from their past moves back into town, Ben is forced to balance his friendship, love and the launching of his new life.
“It’s heartfelt and hilarious,” Henry said, admitting that he’s been trying to craft catchy descriptions for a future DVD cover.
As to whether the movie is based on real life, he described it as “fictional,” but said the character of Chris is based on the Chris who plays him.
“I tried to stay real-to-life and not sugar-coat anything,” said Henry, admitting that although he’s known Nelson for 8 years, while writing the movie he carried around a pad of paper and “wrote down everything he said.”
Yet still, Nelson managed to make his own lines even funnier by ad-libbing during filming.
“A lot of people said ‘Chris does a really good job of playing himself,’” Henry joked. “I didn’t cast these people for their looks; I cast them because they had the chops to pull it off.”
Kaylee, the girl in question, is played by another 2003 classmate, Heather Grantier. In fact, just about the only person who didn’t graduate from SKHS was Henry’s co-writer, Al Harrold.
Most of the principles, including Henry, will be on-hand to meet the audience and answer questions for Saturday night’s showing in Port Orchard. The screening is currently sold-out, but Henry said some tickets may be available at the last-minute.
Two more showings have been added tonight and Sunday, and all three nights the movie will begin at 9:30 p.m.
Henry said he is excited and nervous to be showing the film, and after the premiere will focus on getting the movie accepted to the Seattle International Film Festival.
“My ultimate goal is to take it to the festival circuit,” he said.
If You go:
What: Premiere of ‘That Scottish Play’
When: Tonight, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Orchard Theater, 822 Bay Street.
How much: $5