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Movie filmed on ferries gets cross-Sound debut

An original short film by a Seattle director about interaction between commuters on the Bremerton ferry received an on-board preview on Thursday night, prior to its exhibition at the Seattle Film Festival.

“Hello,” starring Eric Stoltz and Susanna Thompson, will also be shown on today’s 3 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bremerton and the 4:15 p.m. return trip.

The 19-minute film will be shown in a passenger area using a digital projector.

Director John Helde, who has lived in Seattle for 15 years, got the idea for the film from his wife, who had observed how regular bus commuters interact.

Helde developed a story about one such occurrence, but transposed it to the ferries.

“I love the ferries,” Helde said. “You get there in the water, and the mountains, and it’s a different kind of environment.”

The production received an added bonus, as the scheduled Bainbridge screening — on Thursday night — coincided with the re-establishment of food service on the ferry.

So not only did commuters get a free movie, but popcorn was also available.

In the film, the commuter played by Stoltz is emboldened by a self-help book to approach Thompson’s character, a lawyer who drafts a contract for the interaction.

“Hello” was shot in four days in December 2003, two of those days aboard regularly scheduled boats.

“We had to get the shot quickly, and had to shoot within the ferry schedule,” Helde said. “If we weren’t successful, we’d never have the chance again.”

Helde said Washington State Ferries was extremely cooperative, and thanked several ferry employees in the movie’s credits.

Bainbridge Island resident and prominent independent film director Alan Rudolph served as the film’s executive producer.

Aside from the ferry showings, “Hello” will be screened on June 10 and June 12. For more information, go on-line to www.seattlefilm.org.

Helde said he didn’t know where the film would be shown after the festival, since there are limited outlets for short films.

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