How do you create the illusion on film of a mermaid lolling in seawater? The steps are simple, according to producer Tamara Trexler. First, you drain the director's pool in Los Angeles. Then you line the sides and bottom with burlap to give it that undersea feel. Bring in prop foliage and rocks for atmosphere. Just add mermaid. All it took was a call to someone with a mermaid rental house. "We got the 'tail guy' from Splash," Trexler confides.
His name, by the way, is Thom Shouse, and his catch of the day appears in Dear Mr. Cash, a locally produced feature that makes its Nashville premiere Feb. 24 at the Belcourt's annual "How About Dinner and a Movie?" fundraiser. The event benefits Park Center, a nonprofit agency for adults with mental illness that offers job placement, literacy training, housing and other vital services.
A family drama shot mostly on location in Middle Tennessee, Dear Mr. Cash concerns a 10-year-old girl (Anna Grace Stewart) left lonely by her uncle's death and her father's leaving. For escape, she develops an obsession with Johnny Cash's music, seeking refuge in a fantasy world where she is president of the singer's fan cluband where her mysterious aunt may actually dwell underwater.
"It's a wonderful script, with a little of everything," says Wes Motley, Trexler's husband and production partner. "Women especially really seem to respond to it." Motley appears in the filmhe performs "The Raven" beside a campfirealong with a cast of stage and TV actors that includes Matt Carlton and Robert Lynn.
The movie was filmed last fall by writer-director-star Wendy Cooper-Porcelli, a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who wanted to take advantage of some property she owns in Thompson's Station. A Scene article by Dolly Carlisle on local indie productions led her and her team of investors to Trexler, a Nashville producer with three films to her credit in as many years. (Trexler's other credits include the Nashville Film Festival smash Charlie's War and Funny Valentine, a romantic comedy with Anthony Michael Hall.)
The production was in development for almost a year and a halflong enough that the late Cash knew about the film before his death in September 2003. "A friend of a friend went to see him to tell him about it," Trexler says. "He gave us his blessing." Not only was the film able to use several Cash songs on the soundtrackscore one for music supervisor Anastasia Brownit also attracted other Nashville artists such as the Warren Brothers, who appear performing a tribute song called "Johnny and Jesus."
Dear Mr. Cash received high marks two weeks ago at the Sarasota Film Festival, where it screened alongside films by Danny Boyle, Arnaud Desplechin and Park Chan-wook. Aside from next Thursday, though, no other Nashville screenings are planned so far. It makes sense that a movie about mermaids would be hard to catch. For more information about "How About Dinner and a Movie?" and Park Center, call 385-2403. Jim Ridley
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
^ It's nice to see an official acknowledgement by management. Kristen Mcarther Miles (the girl…
How ironic that "Vandy radio" gets resurrected as a fictional station?! I was just glad…
Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.