by lynn keebaugh
Green River Community College is offering local writers and film buffs a chance to learn how to make a movie with someone who has a few already under his belt.
Movie producer Tad Devlin will be in Enumclaw for the last two weekends this month to teach a 20-hour workshop that covers the making of a film, from developing and writing a story, to filming and editing the final project. He’ll teach it at the GRCC Center at Enumclaw.
Devlin has produced and been a part of production staff on a number of Hollywood feature films and made-for-television movies. Among his credits are “George of the’ Jungle,” “D3: The Mighty Ducks,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and “Sleeping with the Enemy.”
The workshop here will culminate in a movie based on a story created by class members, who will be in the production, as well as behind the camera. It will be a collaborative effort from start to finish Devlin said, adding he wants students to come to the workshop with plenty of story ideas. The finished product will be shown on Enumclaw City Television.”We’ll start with the story structure,” Devlin said from his home in the Centralia “We’ll get them to, write a story and make a pitch; tell me why we should make this film. I’m the studio.”
Devlin also will emphasize how visual media such as films, television and now the Internet, are the storytelling vehicles of the future. Learning to manipulate the media to express ideas and tell stories will be vital, he said.
The class also will hear about the hardest part of flimmaking, which comes after the last frame is shot and the final cuts are made. That’s marketing, or selling the film to a studio for distribution.
Devlin has his own production company called Northwest Film Projects, which makes films for young adults. One of his current projects is called “Immigrant Garden.” The story of a young girl who comes of age as she shares her garden of imported seeds with an elderly woman. A student in a scriptwriting class he taught in the Centralia area wrote it, he said. That student had written a play that was performed off Broadway. He worked with her in class to turn the play into a movie script which he made into an independent film last summer at southwest Washington locales.” He’s in the editing phase now.
Devlin likes working in the Northwest and using local talent and resources because it gives him fresh perspective and saves money. By comparison, he said, he wouldn’t be able to make a Hollywood film for less than -about $6 million. “Immigrant Garden” had a budget of $1.2 million.
He used alt Northwest talent for “Immigrant Garden.” Save for the elderly character, who has Broadway credentials. The young girl’s role was filled by a girl from Onalaska.
There is talent to be found outside of the larger markets, Devlin said. “It needs to be molded … but the performances are OK. Are they going to put Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia out of work? I don’t think so. But they’re credible.”
Being in Centralia, where he’s lived for the past .11 years, puts Devlin midway between two large markets in Portland and Seattle. “I call it my 9O-minuce market,” he said, for the type of films he wants to make. Northwest Film Projects has a mission statement that says his goal is to make films that focus on “moral excellence, responsibility,
unselfish behavior and respect for others.”
“That doesn’t mean we’re making Disney films,” he said. But it still makes his, projects a tough sell in Hollywood because they’re seen as “too soft.”
Enumclaw physician Mary Ballard, who also heads a group called Citizens for Responsible Film, recruited him to teach the workshop. He was here last year to speak to that group.
Devlin plans to promote his films, such as “Immigrant Garden,” at film festivals, like the one coming up this spring in Seattle. If he can get them into even just a few theaters, he’s happy. He’d even be tickled to see them on cable television. “This is my chance to experiment. I call it off-off-Hollywood,” he said laughing, comparing his films to plays that run in the smaller theaters away from the bright lights of Broadway.