Ernest Thompson, author of “On Golden Pond,” plans to hold one of three cast and crew auditions in Portsmouth for his latest screenplay “Parallel America,” on Sept. 8. The independent movie will be shot entirely in New Hampshire, including in Portsmouth and New Castle.
Shooting begins in September and should wrap by mid-October.
“This is a story about trying to remember why John F. Kennedy asked what you can do for your country,” Thompson says of his latest screenplay. “Lots of people did nothing, so this is kind of a story about believing in our country – transcending politics. It’s a movie about looking into America’s mirror, and seeing what is there, and if we don’t like what we see, doing something about it. ”
Thompson, whose credits include both play and screenplay versions of “On Golden Pond,” (the latter earned an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), has had a connection with the Seacoast art community for decades. His musical, “Another Summer,” based on “On Golden Pond,” made its world premiere at Seacoast Repertory Theatre. Two additional plays also premiered in the city, “Murdering Mother” at SRT and “Ax Of Love” at West End Studio Theatre.
This latest script was penned four years ago, Thompson says.
“And when I wrote ‘Parallel America,’ I didn’t realize how prescient it was,” Thompson says. “It was as if I was seeing into the future.”
“Parallel America” takes place within the political arena, but is not a political film, he says. It focuses on three friends who attended Belnap College together “to ride out the Vietnam War,” he says. “And they started a movement … but they didn’t know what it was about.”
The friends reunite 50 years later to help one of the trio, the current mayor of Portsmouth, run for Congress. The two supporting friends see this opportunity as a way to effect change in a turbulent time.
“Abbie Hoffman, and Angela Davis, tried to storm the castle walls and failed,” Thompson says. “My thoughts were, what if they had someone in the inside to make a difference. … The friends see the guy as the last guy that might make a difference.”
Thompson is set to co-star and direct his film, playing the role of one of the three friends alongside Emmy-winning “NYPD Blue” star Gordon Clapp and actor, singer and game show host John Davidson. Also starring are critically-acclaimed New York actress Lisa Bostnar and stage and film actor Alvin Epstein.
The project is still seeking cast and crew. “There’s some good roles to fill,” Thompson says.
All are welcome, including those with no experience, he says. The project offers an “On Location Training component” for new, young and less-experienced performers, crew, designers and composers.
Auditions for all positions are set for Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Holiday Inn, 300 Woodbury Ave., Portsmouth. Auditions for cast and crew will run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Auditions for extras and volunteers will run from 3 to 5 p.m.
Cast and crew applicants are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org for an audition time slot. People interested in extra or volunteer positions, who are unavailable to make the auditions, may send a note of interest with contact information to the same address.
The film’s additional filming locations include the New Hampshire Lakes Region and Peterborough.
“Like with any very good piece of art, it’s about a lot of good things, and it’s pretty subjective as to how people look at it,” he says. “It’s a love story, not only between male and female characters, but to America.”
And love of country translates to being participating citizens and taking the time to vote, he adds. “And that’s the gist of it.”
“I hope that by February the whole thing will be finished. I want to get it out as soon as I can. As I said, it’s kind of urgent,” Thompson adds. “So we’re gearing up to go.”