By Tiffany Royal
POULSBO -What started as a simple 3-5 minute script class project has turned into a full-Length, $1.5 million film. The independent movie hails from one of the most impoverished areas of Washington and was created by an inexperienced group of filmmakers who were led by a veteran Hollywood professional, C. Tad Devlin.
‘The Immigiant Garden” will be shown at a screening sponsored by the Pou1sbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club on Friday, July 19, at President’s Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. But it was actually created and produced in Lewis County, about 20 miles south of Olympia. Director and producer Tad Devlin (Sleeping with the Enemy, George of the Jungle, When A Man Loves A Woman) was teaching a film class at Centralia Community College in Lewis County in 1989 when he assigned the class to develop a simple 3-5 minute script. Everyone came back with unacceptable R-Rated work Devlin explained, he then asked the class to try again. That is when CarolineWood presented her play “The Immigrant Garden.”
Wood’s 1910 period piece was about a young girl who corresponds with an elderly gardener living in England.After receiving positive classroom response, Wood and Devlin worked on the script with Caoline to develop it for the proposed 3-5 minute film. But every week Wood came back with more and more script pages; eventually topping out at 125 pages.
Devlin cut the script down to 106, then told Wood he couldn’t cut back any more. They just looked at each other and finally Devlin said, “Let’s go for it.” That got the ball rolling for the first Northwest Film Projects movie, and put the wheels in motion for getting the cast, the equipment and most of all, the money to fund the project. There were several criteria for the fllm: the biggest of which was that everything had to be made with consumer gear – nothing professional could be used in the production of the flim. About 350 people from Lewis and the surrounding counties ended up working on the movie.
Devlin saw the venture as an opportunity to get the area’s younger residentse involved as the Lewis County’s once a prosperous logging and natrural resources economy had been going downhill for several years. He believes the “Running Start” and artistic kids don’t get recognized in the schools, like the athletic students, and there is no disciplineof interaction imposed upon them. Some of the kids had a history of getting into trouble. Tad mixed them with kids who came from good homes and the result was they helped each other get recognized (for their work on the film). The mission of the company is to develop rural Pacific Northwest stories for theater and television, with an emphasis on e-films, using themes of “moral excellence, responsibility; unselfish behavior and respect for others (tolerance).
Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary member and Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen said the group saw this project as worthy cause to support “We wanted to support someone that has given the youth the opportunity to make a difference,” she explained. “It’s giving them skills, self-esteem and some direction.” Thirty percent of the proceeds from Friday’s screening will go the Nalional Multiple Sclerosis Society while the rest will help pay the expense of producing the film. “The Immigrant Garden” will be shown three times on Friday, July 19 at President’s Hall at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. $5 for the 4:30 p.m., and $8 for the 7 and 9 p.m. showings. Tickets are available at Central Market in Poulsbo, Kitsap Farm Garden Tractor in Silverdale, Apple Tree CoveI Animal Hospital in Kingston and at the Bremerton YMCA. For ticket information, call (360)779-8007.