Crew included local high school students and college interns
Geyserville residents Leslie and James Simmons, a full-time production duo, finished filming their first feature film, “For What It’s Worth,” on Aug. 18. The couple and their crew began filming in Geyserville on June 17 and have been hard at work since.
“We live here. We thought it would be a really cool setup. We worked with someone who I grew up with for the script and we wanted to shoot in an environment we were familiar with, so we crafted the script around where we could film,” Leslie said.
The film – with a screenplay by Healdsburg natives Marc Bojanowski and Jake Hawkes – is about a young man who works in a local antique shop and is “a little lost in some ways.” The antique shop is involved in some darker aspects of life and the man thinks he wants to be a part of it.
He drops a piece of furniture off at a woman’s house and spies a figurine in the house. He thinks that the figurine is valuable and that there must be other valuable pieces, so he starts staking out the house.
He has a happenstance meeting with the owner and she asks if he knows of a good spot on the river, and a relationship develops.
13 members of the crew are interns from local high schools and colleges. The Simmonses and the Alexander Valley Film Society organized a high school internship program for nine students at Healdsburg, Geyserville and Cloverdale High Schools, and recruited four local college students as well.
Leslie said that the interns have caught on quickly and some have worked out so well that the Simmons are hiring them for other corporate productions around the community.
“It’s nice to have people in the community we can rely on. Everybody’s got their roles and it’s a well-oiled machine,” she said about the interns.
Alexander Valley Film Society Executive Director Kathryn Hecht, who owns The Clover Theater in Cloverdale with her husband Ryan, said that she met Leslie Simmons last spring and they hit it off right away.
Simmons shared her plans for the feature film she wanted to shoot over the summer, and Hecht proposed that she include area high school students as interns.
“One of the programs within the AV Film Lab, our educational arm, is to create real world opportunities for students to practice filmmaking and storytelling skills. Because she is who she is, and because this was a homecoming of sorts into the community in which she grew up, Leslie decided to take a chance and said ‘Yes.’ Together, we outlined a set of criteria for candidates and then expectations of those selected,” Hecht said.
Hecht said that an exciting moment was when one of the interns, who quickly rose to a leadership position on set, replied to one of Hecht’s emails on Leslie’s behalf. “Right then, I knew we were on the right track and spending our energy wisely,” she said.
Here was a young woman who would have had to wait several years for an opportunity like this one, and here she was serving as second assistant director on a local shoot.
“It made me very proud to have had a small part in her future, no matter what she decides in the long-term,” Hecht said.
Cloverdale High School senior Robin Weathers is a wardrobe intern for the film and also works on props and set design. The 17-year-old said that she heard about the internship from drama and English teachers at her high school.
“I thought it sounded really interesting because it’s so rare for a movie to be filmed around here. I wanted to be a part of it, and I love acting and I thought “Let’s go have some fun this summer,” Weathers said.
This is Weathers’ first internship and she said she has been on set “pretty much every day since filming started.”
Leslie said that now that filming is finished, the team behind the film is going to be on a fast track to edit. She hopes to enter “For What It’s Worth” in film festivals this fall, locally and beyond.
The film won’t be released publicly until the Simmons hear back from the film festivals. Leslie said that “For What It’s Worth” will likely be released to the public next summer.