A stretch of Pennsylvania highway was the spark behind one filmmaker’s masterpiece.
“Route 30: Three Stories, One Highway” was written, produced and directed by John Putch, who is based in California. The film was shot between Chambersburg and Gettysburg. Now, it travels back to the area, this time showing on the big screen at Ligonier Theater beginning Feb. 20.
“In my effort to be original, I decided to take my ‘no frills’ moviemaking team back to my hometown and shoot some fun stories about people and themes that meant a lot to me growing up in the area,” Putch says.
Putch is the son of Bill Putch and Jean Stapleton, best known for her role as Edith Bunker on the television sitcom “All in the Family.” The two founded Totem Pole Playhouse, a summer-stock theater situated along Route 30 at Caledonia State Park, midway between Chambersburg and Gettysburg.
His “back to basics” moviemaking plan is simple: Share the profits with all of those involved in the production, and keep the budget low and the filming to a minimum, allowing the professional actors, directors and crew members to produce a spectacular show.
“The less you have, the easier it is. My new motto, when I’m not working for a Hollywood entity, is ‘less professional, more fun,'” he says.
The film was shot in 18 days in October 2007 with a cast of 15 and eight crew members. It includes three interconnecting comedic stories from folks along Route 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway, in south-central Pennsylvania.
“Deer Hunters Wives” tells of the frustrations of Civil War tour guide Mandy (Nathalie Boltt), who obsesses over Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed at the battle of Gettysburg. Mandy’s friend June (Christine Elise McCarthy) struggles with an Internet porn scheme to make extra money.
In “What I Believe,” a man (Kevin Rahm of “Desperate Housewives”) seeks the help of a Christian Scientist (Wil Love) to heal his back pain and explain the Big Foot that chased him down the mountainside.
“Original Bill” is the story of a writer (David DeLuise, son of actor, writer and chef Dom DeLuise) who buys a farmhouse in the country hoping to find inspiration to write his novel. He is sidetracked by his Amish neighbor (Dana Delany of “Desperate Housewives”), who smokes, drinks, swears and secretly watches his TV.
“The film also features properties along Route 30 and was partially filmed at Tin Lizzy’s in Youngstown, Pa., and Country Cafe & Video in Pleasant Unity,” says Cathi Rhodes, interim director of the Valley Players of Ligonier.
Putch says the film has been shown in York and Gettysburg, and he is looking for more venues to show the film along the Lincoln Highway.
“We started in July of 2008 and will continue to the end of 2009. We’ve played 21 festivals and have racked up 11 awards. We are pleased at the reaction, and hope others want to see it,” he says. “By the way, I’ll show this movie any place that wants it.”
Putch says that when time and budget allows, he attends the viewing of the film to participate in a question-and-answer session afterward. Although Putch will be unable to attend the Ligonier showing, he will send a representative to address the audience.
By Carla DeStefano
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
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