Hey — Our Town Made A Movie — Let’s Do It Again!

Stream A Walk With Grace This Holiday To Support Community Filmmaking

The film crew of A Walk With Grace working hard on Market Street in Lima, Ohio outside Trinity United Methodist Church. The sun was so bright this day that some crew members were dedicated solely to shielding cast, cameras, and operators from its harsh rays. Photo by John Fike.

In the summer of 2017, the Lima, Ohio area experienced something new. Writer and director Nick Kellis, known for his work as a producer on L.A. Ink and other hit television series, brought production of a Hollywood-style film to his hometown of Lima.

The film, A Walk With Grace, wasn’t just filmed in Lima. It was made possible by Lima.

Numerous members of the community came together to make it happen, from local investors contributing financing, to area businesses and residents volunteering locations and resources, to the dozens of people who contributed their time and energy in numerous ways. Not to mention the many, many people who volunteered their time as extras in several scenes.

Where to Stream or Download:

Not only did Nick, his team of producers, crew, talent and the Lima community succeed in producing a fine piece of cinematic drama, but they also succeeded in distributing it — one of the most difficult parts of seeing a film through to success. In November, the film was released for streaming and digital download on several popular platforms.

That’s right, just in time for the holidays, you can stream this faith-based story of love, homecoming and challenges of loyalty in the comfort of your own home or on your mobile device. (See the graphic above for links where you can access the film.) One of the unique aspects of the story in this film is that it really delivers the flavor of Lima, Ohio. It’s not just any old small town in Middle America, it is specifically Lima, Ohio, with its particular quirks nuances. The town becomes one of the characters. Check it out.

Shooting Behind The Scenes – A Chance To Learn

When the production of A Walk With Grace occurred, Nick generously gave me the opportunity to shoot the behind-the-scenes footage for the film. Having only worked on short films and commercial projects with much smaller production crews before, it was a great chance to see how a larger production worked – everything from managing cast and crew, to handling more extensive lighting needs and logistics for large teams and tons of equipment.

For four weeks, when I wasn’t pointing a camera a someone myself, I was observing these more experienced film professionals at work, soaking up every bit of knowledge I could. As often as possible, I focused my attention on Cinematographer Adam Lee Ferguson and Steadicam Operator Chris Carson and their support crew. But I also learned a great deal from the time I spent talking to Sound Mixer Brian Galyean and Editor Pete Lutz. The knowledge I gained from working with and talking to these folks I continue to employ in my work today.

Director Nick Kellis and Cinematographer Adam Lee Ferguson discuss an upcoming camera angle in the halls of Shawnee High School. Photo by John Fike.

Shooting behind-the-scenes footage on set also gave me the chance to film every day for four weeks. Shooting all day long, if I caught on to something Adam or Chris was doing that I thought was applicable to what I was doing, I could practice the technique that same day. It was an ideal environment for learning new techniques and approaches – at least for camera work. Lighting, gaff tricks, sound and editing I’d have to wait till later. But it was all very useful.

Let’s Do It Again!

I wasn’t the only one learning how to make a big feature film when A Walk With Grace came through town. A large portion of Lima did. As I noted above, the movie happened because the community came together. But in many ways, A Walk With Grace was an experiment – a learning experience. No one had ever made an entire motion picture in Lima before – not on this scale. No one was 100% sure it could be done. Lots of people had a lot of faith. For a good reason, though. Lima has a lot of talented and dedicated people. Everyone involved wanted to see this venture succeed.

The success of A Walk With Grace means several things for the Lima community. First and foremost, it means we can do it again if we want to. And next time we can do it better. We know what it takes, and we know what to expect. We also know that we have some learning to do. For A Walk With Grace, Nick brought in some specialized talent that had the experience and skill to get the quality product needed in the allotted time. He had to; we aren’t a filmmaking community yet. We have people who are headed in that direction, and we have the groundwork, in terms of talent and resources, to become one if we choose to, but we aren’t one yet.

So let’s make some more films. Let’s get some practice in. They don’t have to be as big as A Walk With Grace – and shouldn’t be, to begin with. We can make some short films, or lower-cost features, and things like that. Along the way, we build up the skills of local talent and support teams, organize access to resources, build up our equipment supply (Nick had to go to Cincinnati to get all his C-stands, rigging and lights).

It won’t happen overnight, but step by step I think we can build at least a small film industry in the area. Eventually, this will support not only those in the arts, but also folks in the skilled trades, like carpenters and electricians – cuz, yeah, I want to run a camera, not figure out how to string up a series of 5000 -watt lights without making the city go dark.

But all that starts with helping ensure A Walk With Grace is a financial success as well as a cinematic success. A lot of folks with a lot faith fronted a lot of cash to make this wonderful experiment happen. We need people across America to see what we did, enjoy it and participate in its cost by downloading it, streaming it, and/or buying it on DVD (coming out this spring, I believe). So, head on over to Amazon, iTunes, YouTube or wherever and get your copy.

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