By MIKE CHAIKEN
When the indie film “Paper City Burnout” is screened for the first time in Connecticut, Nutmeg fans of cinema will see some of the handiwork of a lifelong Plymouth resident.
And if they look closely enough, they may even spy Sarah Mitchell on the screen.
“Paper City Burnout” will be screened on Saturday, March 2 at 6:45 p.m. in Hardcore Sweet Bakery, 20 Main St. Oakville.
Chris Dubey, a partner, executive producer, co-writer, and actor in the film, said “Paper City Burnout” is about “a recovering addict, Jackie Smalls… falling back into his own habits. Despite support from his family and friends, his relapse set[s] him down a road filled with some very dangerous and very ambitious people.”
Plymouth’s Mitchell worked primarily behind the scenes as partner and executive producer of the film. But, she said, “There is a very brief cameo of me in one of the scenes.”
“I was brought into the company as the fundraising expert,” said Mitchell, who had no previous experience with films. “I was responsible for our IndieGoGo campaign… That campaign ensured that our cast, crew, and those assisting on the film were fed and had places to stay when we filmed. We were also able to purchase many of the props and costuming to make the story relatable.”
Mitchell’s roles helping the movie’s production company Diabolical Films were not strictly financial. “The days I was on-set I would feed lines to the actors, assist with makeup, make sure the food was ordered, keep track of our actors, help with lighting and sound, and the list continues.”
“The most exciting and tedious role I had was with the editing,” said Mitchell. “I watched endless loops of the film checking for continuity, making sure the story made sense, suggesting parts to cut and add.”
Dubey, who worked in tandem with fellow Berlin, N.H. resident Rick Pivin, said the idea for the film arose from his interest in crime dramas. It was a change of pace from Diabolical’s primary genre, horror.
“Since we were working with a micro-budget, we had to write for what we were capable of executing and what was feasible,” said Dubey. “So, we wrote a contemporary crime drama set on the streets of our home town because we knew it was a story we could tackle.”
Dubey said the plot developed as he and Pivin pondered a “a heist gone wrong and the fallout associated with it.”
Once the cast was in place, said Dubey, “We consolidated most of the shooting schedule (in Berlin, N.H. into four weekends).”
Berlin, N.H. was selected for production, said Dubey, because “in addition to our home being a beautiful example of small town New England, the community itself is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Many of our players have firsthand experience in dealing with these challenges from an emergency services perspective.”
Mitchell said Berlin, N.H. is similar to many of the old mill towns in Connecticut, such as Torrington, Winsted, Bristol, and Waterbury.
“Any town or city that had factories at the peak of manufacturing, can relate [to the plot],” said Mitchell. “Industry was there and then left. And when it left, an entirely new set of situations arose.”
In New Hampshire, said Mitchell, “Among the natural beauty, there is a sadness that life-long residents encounter and cope with every day.”
“Paper City Burnout” is being shown in Oakville, said Dubey, because of Mitchell and because of the donors were from Connecticut.
The first screening ever for the film was in August 2018 in Berlin, N.H., which is about six hours away from Connecticut.
“We knew the Connecticut donors would not make that journey,” said Mitchell.
Hardcore was selected for the screening, said Mitchell because “they are supporters of the arts, comedy, music, and independent film. In the past, they hosted various Desultory Theatre Club burlesque, comedy and music nights and they currently are running their own comedy night and event series.”
Plus, said Mitchell, “Their space is the perfect size for the crowd we’re anticipating.”
As part of the evening, Connecticut-based 48 Hour Film Project New Haven and Elmwood Productions will show some of their film work.
When audiences leave the film, Mitchell said she is hoping they don’t just see a “Don’t Do Drugs” film. “We are presenting a form of entertainment that we hope audience members walk away from and feel different. And that feeling, I hope, leads to a larger discussion and addresses topics larger than this film is capable of.”
“Paper City Burnout” will be presented on Saturday, March 2 at 6:45 p.m. in Hardcore Sweet Bakery, 20 Main St., Oakville. Tickets are $8. For advance tickets, go to Eventbrite.com and search for “Paper City Burnout Comes to CT.”