ARTS: Bridging the Gap

Lake EffectsTen
years ago, a movie filled with recognizable faces could not have been made for
less than $1 million, but that’s exactly what Edmond native Scott Bridges
helped accomplish with “Lake Effects,” a heartwarming film starring a medicine
woman, a Starship Trooper and a Boondock Saint.

Filmmaking is a tough business, and
operating outside the Hollywood system presents even further challenges.
Professional-grade equipment is more affordable than ever, opening the
floodgates for six-figure productions. This is great for aspiring Spielbergs,
but the glut of new films shot each year presents a challenge for producers
like Bridges, a former Edmond resident and a graduate of Edmond Memorial High
School.

Bridges began Sure Crossing Films
in Oklahoma to help these independent movies find funding. With the economy in
a trough, the rise of foreign studios drying up the well of international money
and the demise of the DVD market, making an independent film has truly become a
labor of love. “Smaller films have a harder time getting going. It requires a
community,” Bridges says. “That’s the way films are really getting made now…by
communities, by people coming together.”

For “Lake Effects,” stars were
ferried by private pilots instead of flying first-class. People who lived near
Smith Mountain Lake, where the film was shot, provided campers and trucks for
free. Some locals even appeared in the film. If not for community support, the
budget would have nearly doubled.

“Lake Effects” is a production of
Life Out Loud Films, based in Virginia. Bridges was hired to consult on
fundraising and wound up co-producing. He consulted in casting and managed all
levels of production along with Producer Sara Elizabeth Timmins and Director Mike McKay. It was stressful, but a good kind of stress, he
remembers. “It’s always like trying to make the perfect casserole, getting all
the right ingredients—and one of the most important ingredients is the cast.”

The extra coin in the coffers
allowed them to cast “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” star Jane Seymour. “Her
performance is really delightful and heartfelt. Even though she’s British, she
loved adapting to the Virginia housewife character,” Bridges remarks. “She
couldn’t wait to try her accent.” Seymour’s name in the cast enticed other
known actors like Casper Van Dien, Sean Patrick Flannery, Ben Savage, and Jeff
Fahey to work at a discount.

“The cast we got together was
really pretty amazing, especially for the budget of the film,” Bridges says.
This opened the door for “Lake Effects” to air on TV. “If you have no names,
you can’t get it on TV,” he explains. “Even if you get the names, it doesn’t
mean the network will pay for it. It’s always a balancing game.”

“Lake Effects” is about a young
woman who left her home and moved to Los Angeles. She had a problem relating to
her family and to the place where she grew up. Upon returning to the lake for a
funeral, she is faced with her family and the home that no longer fits her.
However, she comes to discover that everything she needs in life is there. “She
finds that it doesn’t matter whether you live in the big city or a small town,
love of life and family is all that’s important,” Bridges describes.

The plot happens to echo elements
of Bridges’ life and, likely, the lives of many others. “It’s actually
something that I took to heart and really identified with. I went through a
period of, ‘Oh, I have to get away from Oklahoma.’…that period in your
twenties. Then you realize that Oklahoma had everything you needed and you just
thought you had to go somewhere else.” He currently lives in LA, but enjoys
returning for extended periods of time.

Bridges left home to attend the
University of Cincinnati — College-Conservatory of Music. After graduating in
1996, he moved to New York City where he starred in “Hello Dolly” with Carol
Channing. He played “Slightly Soiled,” a
lost boy
, in “Peter Pan” with Cathy Rigby, then came to LA in 2000 to shoot
a film version of the play. He set up shop and helped start Silverwood Films which
produced Ryan Gosling’s Academy Award-nominated film, “Half Nelson.”

Sure Crossing Films was started in
2008. There wasn’t enough happening after the economic downturn to continue in
Oklahoma, so they began doing more projects out-of-state. However, they are in
development of a family adventure film they would like to shoot here. “It’s
very difficult to get production going now,” he admits. “Once you make a film,
it’s very difficult to be successful with it. ‘Lake Effects’ is a rarity and it
really only happened because a community came together and provided so much
support.”

The film ran on the Hallmark Movie
Channel for an entire month, a French channel picked it up, and Anchor Bay
released the DVD on August 14th. “It’s a quality film,” he says. “It’s going to
make a little bit of money for investors, though not a lot. It’s a successful
film they can be proud of.”

Bridges has had a busy year with
“Lake Effects” coming out, and another film, “Doonby,” premiering in limited
theatrical release. “That came out in February and did pretty well,” he says.
“iCrime” came out on DVD last October.

Work continues on a children’s
project called “Dancing with Miss Melodee” for kids ages three-to-six and based
on a children’s music artist. After releasing a CD last year, it was nominated
for an Independent Music Award for Best Album, and also won a Parents’ Choice
Award, a National Parents Publications Award, and a five-dove rating from the
Dove Foundation. “That was really exciting,” he remembers. “They released music
videos and dance lessons. A book series, a game app and hopefully
a TV show are in the works.”

As the film industry evolves, those
behind the scenes will have to remain innovative to keep up with the changes.
As the industry in Oklahoma grows, Bridges and others like him stand to lead
the medium into the future.

For more information about Sure
Crossing Films, visit surecrossingfilms.com. For more about “Lake Effects,” visit
lakeeffectsthemovie.com. For more about “Dancing with Miss Melodee” visit www.missmelodee.com.

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