Actors in the movie Fort Apache
Filmakers wrapped up shooting of the indie film Fort Apache on July 4, after shooting in several towns in the North Country.
“The process was incredibly challenging but a lot of people in the area are willing to help make it happen,” Westport Central school graduate and New York University film student Addison Mehr said. “It was a big story and I had a crew of about 30 working tirelessly to bring this film to life. We shot for 11 days in 12 locations.”
The project began in November when Mehr pitched the story idea for the film as his senior thesis at New York University. Mehr said preproduction began shortly after and a crew of 30 people shot their film based on the short story by Alan Heathcock published in, Volt.
Fort Apache is the story of Walt Freely, a 14-year-old who lives in the small town of Krafton, and is emerging out of the naive world of children and into the savage world of adults, a world of indifference, sexuality, and destruction.
The film is set in a small town of Krafton. Mehr said while reading the story, Krafton reminded him of growing up in Westport and other Adirondack towns.
“It was a really unique experience to bring the cast and crew to the Adirondacks and I hope ultimately that it makes the film more personal as a kind of direct reflection of the way I see the world,” Mehr said.
The film was shot in several locations including Moriah, Westport, and Lake Placid.
On Main Street in Westport, the filmmakers transformed the street’s store fronts into versions of their former selves on July 2.
Mehr said the sets were all designed by him and his colleague Auriel Rudnik.
“We spent months researching both archival and creative photos as well as pulling references from numerous films,” Mehr described creating sets and preparing for the film.
On the day of shooting, the Library Lawn was taken over by tents, large cameras, heavy lights, and a crew from NYU that moved between sending traffic away from the closed street to readying the set and actors.
As scene 11 begins, the films star, Hale Lytle, who plays the lead character, jumps from the back of a 1940 Ford truck with actors Lindsay Burge and Fayelyn Bilodeau.
The section of roadway from Bradamount Realty to Me and My Girls Cafe had been closed from about 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. causing the late night traffic to be detoured around the library lawn.
The K & D Deli exterior was transformed into a barber shop, the Besssboro shop into a dress shop and a grocery in their other window and the windows of Bradamount Realty was transformed into a hat shop.
The film was financially funded in part by supporters through the website, Kickstarter. Also, filmmaker Martin Scorsese donated a signed poster to help fund Mehr’s project. Mehr had worked with the director of such works as Goodfellas, The Departed and Taxi Driver, on a project over the summer. Scorsese will be giving the poster to offer support to the young filmmaker.
Mehr said the film will be in post-production for several months and hopes to have a screening in the area, most likely at the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid. Those who donated to help fund the film project through Kickstarter will be sent a digital download as soon as the film is finished.