LAKE PLACID - An Adirondack native is set to begin shooting an independent movie in and around Lake Placid in June.
Addison Mehr, 20, who is getting ready to graduate from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, is directing "Fort Apache," a film adaptation of a short story of the same name by Alan Heathcock. The story appeared in Heathcock's short story collection titled "Volt," which was published last year.
Mehr grew up in the Adirondacks and attended Westport Central School. He skipped several years of high school and was enrolled at NYU by age 16. When he graduates this month, he will receive a bachelor's degree in fine arts, with a focus on film and television.
Addison Mehr, formerly of Westport, plans to shoot a movie adaption of the short story “Fort Apache” in Lake Placid in June as his film school thesis project.
"Fort Apache" is Mehr's thesis film, part of his class in advanced narratives. He said students compete with each other for a cash award that's used to create the film.
"In order to get the allotment, you have to pitch your story and why you want to tell it," Mehr said. "You have to say how you plan on making it happen. I was in a class in September, we pitched the film, and I was awarded the allotment. And now we're doing it."
In addition to Lake Placid, Mehr said he will take his production crew to the Westport area.
Mehr said he discovered the fictional story by hearing a National Public Radio review. It is about 14-year-old Walt Freely, a boy from the small town of Krafton who, in Mehr's words, is leaving the "naive world of children" and entering a "savage world of adults." Mehr said it includes themes of anxiety, destruction and emerging sexuality.
"I really fell in love with the world of the story," he said. "I could relate to the story. For me, I grew up in Westport. It's a small town; the nearest movie theater was over an hour away for me. For me, film is an escape, and in this story it's about a character who is trying to escape from his world."
The short story is set in the American Midwest after World War II. Mehr said he hopes shooting the film in the Adirondacks will give it an authentic feel.
"The Adirondacks are such a beautiful region, and they're not really seen a lot," he said. "It makes it so much more personal to shoot in the places I grew up in."
Nevertheless, his version of "Fort Apache" is not specifically based in the Adirondacks.
"It's supposed to feel like the American West, a sort of western version of the Adirondacks," Mehr said.
Mehr said Gary Smith, owner of the Northwoods Inn in downtown Lake Placid, is helping him with accommodations. He said he will shoot parts of the film on Main Street and may also incorporate the Palace Theatre.
"It would be great to shoot in this building that's from the area, with the old marquee and everything," Mehr said. "That's ideally one of the locations we'd shoot."
The casting will include a mix of trained actors and actresses and non-actors, Mehr said. The big challenge, he said, is casting the lead role, for which he needs a 12-year-old boy.
A teaser video can be seen at fortapachefilm.com. It was shot on location in Lake Placid, Westport and Keene.
"That was a lot of fun," he said. "It really gives people an idea of the film we're hoping to make."
Like many up and coming filmmakers, Mehr used Kickstarter, an online fundraising tool, to help gather money for the project. The project recently surpassed its goal of $15,000; it has 122 backers who pitched in more than $17,000. The funds will be used for things like equipment, transportation and food costs.
"It's a struggle, but a lot of people are willing to work with us to make it happen," Mehr said.
Mehr plans to film the movie between June 26 and July 7.