The Stars Shine in Newport

NEWPORT CITY – A large crowd filled the Waterfront Cinema Saturday evening for a showing of two Vermont made films, Tin Can and Soul Keeper. Newport Native Tim Kavanagh, who appeared in the film, and Scott Wheeler of Derby organized the event. Intrinsic Films and Samson Production produced Tin Can. Projection Films and Samson Productions produced Soul Keeper. Kavanagh produced and appeared in both films. Steve Maas, also a native to the Northeast Kingdom, wrote, appeared and produced Tin Can. Maas also worked on Soul Keeper.Tin Can won several awards including Most Artistic Film at the Buffalo Film Festival. Soul Keeper is based on Joe Citro’s book after the same name and is out of the novel Not Quite Dead. The production companies commissioned the book and assigned two screenwriters to rewrite it into a short film. Film crews shot at locations such as Shelburne Farms and Addison County.“It  is  damn scary,” Kavanagh said of the film about a man who is coming to grips with himself and the life he’s leading. Kavanagh said the film is similar to the movie Misery. Film officials obtained a $10,000 grant from the Bissell Foundation. They also raised an additional $7,000 for product placement from various companies.The shooting for Soul Keeper took place in late last winter and early spring. The film first appeared at the Vermont International Film Festival held in South Burlington last September. Citro of Burlington, who wrote the book published in the early 1990s, never thought it would get to the big screen. “It was part of an anthology of short stories,” he said. Citro called having his book turned into a movie a “double bladed reaction." “I’ve always wanted to see it because I grew up in the TV culture so I wanted to see how my stuff would do on the screen. At that same time, I was fearful. In so many cases, when stories are brought to the screen, they’re reinterpreted or made somehow different from the source material.”“We would love for it to go big time, but that costs a lot of money,” Maas said of Tin Can. “Right now we’re trying to raise awareness about it. We’re gearing up to do another promotional push where we hope to raise some bucks and go to some more festivals.”Tin Can is a film about two astronauts’ two-year journey to Mars and the life they left behind on earth. Shooting took place in Maas’ garage in Milton as well as around Burlington. Maas didn’t intend “anything” when he set out to write the screenplay.“I just wanted to write a good story that could be filmed by my crew and make a good project,” said Maas. “That was enough for me, really. Everything we’ve accomplished so far has been a fantastic bonus.”“It’s every filmmaker's dream to see it on the big screen,” said Director Logan Howe, who also appears in the film. “Of course it’s every filmmaker’s dream to have it picked up by a distributor and have it distributed worldwide. But, showing to any kind of audience is really thrilling and exciting.”“And scary,” added Kavanagh. “Coming back to Newport and being in front of a lot of friends and family. You’re like, oh my gosh.”The film’s current budget has run out, said Director Logan Howe, who also appears in the film. “We’re looking to push and raise some serious funds so we can push it some more and see where we can take it,” said Howe. Organizers hope to be able to raise money on the Internet. The cost of making the film was around $5,000, said Maas, who added that another $10,000 would help a lot.The average cost to submit to a film festival is $60 and Maas is looking to add more and also looking at distribution routes.Having both films appear in Newport was the work of local history writer Scott Wheeler. In addition, Kavanagh and Maas are both graduates of North Country Union High School.“We thought it would be neat to bring it back to the hometown crowd,” said Kavanagh.Wheeler, who spoke highly of Kavanagh and Maas, said there are a lot of home grown people who are doing a lot of great things. He said it proves people from the Northeast Kingdom can leave their mark on the ground.