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Kenyon Becomes Movie Set Again

Kenyon Becomes Movie Set Again

By David Hoyt

The first morning of October Break is usually a quiet time for Gambier, but shouts of “camera, speed, action!” resonated across campus this past Thursday, Oct. 6. Old Fashioned, an independent film based in nearby New Philadelphia, Ohio, spent the morning filming several brief scenes at Kenyon with about a dozen students and staff participating as extras.

The romantic comedy focuses on Clay Walsh, a former fraternity brother in his mid-30s. He gives up his reckless carousing to run an antique shop in a small Midwestern college town, according to information provided to Kenyon by the film’s producers. When the free-spirited Amber Hewson drifts into the area and rents the apartment above his shop, Clay cannot resist being attracted to her spontaneous and passionate embrace of life. “Amber must overcome her own fears and deep wounds as the two of them, together, attempt the impossible: an ‘old-fashioned’ courtship in contemporary America,” the film’s producers said in an email.

The synopsis may sound somewhat similar to class of 1996 graduate Josh Radnor’s film Liberal Arts, which filmed far more extensively at Kenyon this summer, but the similarities end there. Old Fashioned is director and Ohio-native Rik Swartzwelder’s first feature film, though he has won various awards at regional and international film festivals.

Kenyon’s Manager of Business Services Fred Linger said the producers first approached the College over the summer. “They contacted Public Affairs, and Public Affairs agreed to it,” he said. Linger’s office, however, was in charge of coordinating with the producers. “It was clear when they visited [that] it wouldn’t be much of a scene,” he said, referring to the small portion of the movie filmed on campus. “[The College is not] really getting anything out of it. … We just said they couldn’t interrupt the flow of academics, so we chose this day.” As in Liberal Arts, Kenyon appears as a generic college and not as Kenyon. Extras with Kenyon logos on their clothes had to cover them.

Although Linger sent an all-student email calling for extras prior to the film shoot, few students showed up on Thursday morning. He and the film’s producers attempted to recruit extra students, including several members of the women’s field hockey team, from Peirce Hall. Linger’s assistant, Bonita Warren, was even pressed into service as an extra, playing a professor exiting Samuel Mather Hall as Amber enters.

The film is set in late autumn, and one producer, standing just out of frame, enhanced the autumnal atmosphere by throwing fallen leaves up in the air and letting them drift down on camera.

Lead actress Elizabeth Ann Roberts, who plays Amber, was equipped with a large glass jar full of bills of various denominations, which she carried around for the film. The jar is Amber’s gas money, according to Roberts, but instead of continuing to use it to restlessly move from place to place, she decides to apply it toward going back to school, finishing her degree and settling down.

Old Fashioned is produced by Skoche Films of Burbank, Calif. and will likely gain an MPAA rating of PG. The film is tentatively scheduled to have an Ohio premiere followed by a wider release in Fall 2012, with a DVD release after that.

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