PORT HENRY — The independent film “Lucy and the Lake Monster” will be hanging out with Champ for the next couple weeks.
Executive Producer Richard Rossi said the production will be shooting around Port Henry’s Bulwagga Bay and in Crown Point until Aug. 6.
Cast and crew are staying in local accommodations, including star Emma Pearson, who plays Lucy Lago, a little girl who befriends Champ.
“My character’s mom died on the lake in a boat accident and her dad died in a war,” she explained. “She’s an orphan who believes in Champ.”
And who encounters the legendary sea serpent up close, according to the script and the children’s book on which it was based.
Lucy is mocked and bullied for believing in Champ, Rossi said, but perseveres to find and make friends with the elusive prehistoric throwback many believe lives in Lake Champlain.
“It’s been exciting,” Emma said. “I’m having fun.”
Emma is no stranger to film sets, having appeared on the TV show, “Blue Bloods,” and other productions. The 8 1/2 year old lives in New Jersey, and her mother, Sasha, is on set with her.
Rossi, an L.A. filmmaker who’s also directing the film and appears as Lucy’s grandfather, Papa Jerry, said Emma had no trouble learning her lines.
“She has an amazing memory,” he said. “Emma has been great to work with. She was chosen from a number of actresses who came to a casting call.”
WRITTEN BY LOCAL
The author of “Lucy and the Lake Monster,” Kelly Tabor, co-wrote the script with Rossi. A Crown Point native, she’s on set assisting the production and is co-executive producer.
The book is available from independent book stores and on Amazon.com.
She said the story is intended to help readers overcome mental-health problems like depression, trauma and worry.
“Kids have a lot of stress today,” she said. “We wanted to help kids with issues they’re dealing with.”
The weather has been great for shooting, Tabor said.
“We’ve had awesome weather,” she said. “We had good evening shots. We had a campfire and and got good shots in the sunset. It looked gorgeous.”
Tabor said that growing up in Crown Point she often looked for Champ on the lake.
“When I was a child I heard stories about Champ,” she said. “I’ve had family who have seen it.”
Tabor, who now lives in South Carolina, retired as a fourth-grade teacher there this year.
“Now I have time for writing and doing things like this,” she said.
She said she wrote the book based on the childhood tales she told her students.
Rossi said he sees the film as a fable in which Champ, the lake serpent, is an allegory for God.
“The pure in heart, like Lucy, see Champ as good,” he said. “Others teach Champ is a monster for mercenary purposes, the way manipulative ministers scare people.”
Director of Photography Daniel Burke is shooting the film on 6K digital video with Black Magic equipment, for a release next year to streaming and DVD.
“Champ will be green-screened,” he said, referring to a process in which actors perform in front of a green background and computer-generated effects are inserted in post production. “We have to decide what Champ will look like.”
The creature won’t be portrayed as fearsome, Rossi said, because Lucy befriends the creature during the story.
“This is a friendly Champ,” he said. “Like God is your friend, a simple child sees Champ as her friend.”
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