WHITEWRIGHT — The Caney Creek Nursery here was taken over by the cast and crew of the motion picture “Red Wing” Thursday, where filming will continue through August 11. The film, directed by Will Wallace, stars Luke Perry, Frances Fisher, Breann Johnson and could feature some local faces as well.
Patti Carpenter, who is producing “Red Wing” through her company Integrity Film Productions, said they did some casting in the area. She estimated the cast includes about seven locals, and around eight area residents have joined the crew.
“Matter of fact, our young, little orphan is from Denison,” said Carpenter, who is officially called executive producer. “He’s the son of David Harrod, an actor who was in ‘The Thin Red Line.’ His little son, Austin Harrod, is in the film.”
While the cast and crew were tight-lipped about the plot of the movie, Carpenter did provide a few details.
“It’s a love story, but when you think of a love story you think of all the different aspects of love,” Carpenter said. “It’s a story about love.”
Johnson, in her first feature film role, plays a young mother named Matty who is married to Perry’s character, Carl. Perry, best known for his role in the original “Beverly Hills 90210” TV series, is the male lead of the film. Character actor Fisher, who played Ruth Dewitt Bukater in “Titanic” and Strawberry Alice in “Unforgiven,” was described as the “sweet, feminine villain” by Carpenter.
“Then we have a really wonderful guest appearance by, I can’t tell you his name,” Carpenter said, though she said it was an actor who has been nominated for major awards. “Legally, I can’t say it.”
The story, which is based on a French novella, was developed by Oscar-nominated writer and director Terrance Malick, best known for “Badlands, “Days of Heaven,” “The Thin Red Line” and most recently “The Tree of Life.” Carpenter said they hope to have the movie “in the can” — with all post-production work completed — by January so it can be submitted to festivals like the Cannes Film Festival in France and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
“I’m hoping you’ll see it a year from now (in theaters),” the executive producer said, not ruling out a local premiere. “The Odeum (in Whitewright) has already asked me if we’ll premiere it there, and it depends on who picks up the distribution.”
Another familiar face, or two, that may show up in the film are Whitewright musicians Brad and Chad Purdom. Carpenter confirmed that the twins were working on some original music for the film, though she explained music that is ultimately used isn’t decided until much later. However the possibility of the local musicians appearing in the movie was enough for their grandmother, June Gail Purdom, to be excited.
“I don’t know if they’re going to be in it or not,” the Whitewright ISD board member said. “There’s a wedding and they’re supposedly writing the song for the wedding, but I don’t know if they’re going to get to play it or not (in the movie).”
As excited as the citizens of Whitewright are to have a movie being filmed in town, the crew seemed just as excited to be in the Grayson County city.
“I love Whitewright,” Director Will Wallace said. “Patti and I came and we fell in love with it from the beginning. The town has been really instrumental, and we couldn’t have done it without the Chamber of Commerce and the people of Whitewright.”
Whitewright Chamber of Commerce Secretary Cathy Pierce took the first phone call from the film company and has been instrumental in helping the crew every step of the way. She said the producers have set up in her office and she helped find the crew a place to live.
“The hardest thing was, they were trying to keep the crew and camera people together,” Pierce said.
She explained that she found an empty house to rent and was touring it one evening, when the neighbors came out and offered up their house as well. That turned into a bit of a trend as another local resident offered up his house too. Pierce said the city really came together to make the cast and crew feel at home.
“People have brought in brownies, and they’ve got two people that are vegans, so they’ve made vegan brownies,” Pierce said. “Integrity Films and their cast and crew have been one of the most phenomenal group of people to have here. We’re blessed in Whitewright to have someone this great for our first experience of really shooting a movie.”
Carpenter explained that Whitewright was literally the last stop on her tour of Texas, but she fell in love with it immediately.
“One gorgeous little Sunday afternoon, we found Whitewright,” she said. “It had everything we wanted. It’s destiny, I know I’m supposed to be here. I love Whitewright.”