Making a Scene in El Dorado Hills

Several local indie movie productions hint at our region’s filmmaking history and future

Back Web Only Oct 21, 2015 By Andy Galloway

Sacramento may not be the TV and movie hotspot that places like Austin or Atlanta have become, but on the set of one locally-produced film being made in El Dorado Hills, optimism is high for the greater Sacramento area to develop a burgeoning filmmaking scene.

“Not Your Year”, a feature-length romantic comedy by local writer and director Jim Meyers, and co-produced with fellow-Sacramentan Paul Nicknig, just finished a 17-day shoot at El Dorado Hills Town Center, with the crew and most of the cast also coming from the area. Scoring an exclusive shoot during a Sacramento Republic FC game and prime shooting space at the Town Center, “Not Your Year” should serve as a calling card for the region to those considering their Hollywood aspirations: Make it homegrown.

Town Center co-financier and vocal owner of Sac Republic FC, Kevin Nagle

Town Center co-financier and vocal owner of Sac Republic FC, Kevin Nagle

Following the lives of several young people entwined in the trappings of love, music and becoming true adults, this humorous film is Meyers’ sophomore effort. Behind Meyers, alongside Nicknig stands local investor, Town Center co-financier and vocal owner of Sac Republic FC, Kevin Nagle, whose financial contribution and involvement in providing shooting locations as producer have been instrumental in getting the film made here in the Sacramento region. Not his first foray into film, Nagle was also executive producer for the yet-to-be-released documentary, “Playing to Win: A Relentless Pursuit to Save a Team” about the city’s fight to keep the Sacramento Kings.

“I read the screenplay and knew it was a perfect fit for this region,” says Nagle. “Labors of love like independent filmmaking have huge opportunities here, between the natural and architectural aesthetics, the incredibly helpful county administration and the local talent, as large-scale filmmaking doesn’t leave room for productions like this.”

“I read the screenplay and knew it was a perfect fit for this region. Labors of love like independent filmmaking have huge opportunities here, between the natural and architectural aesthetics, the incredibly helpful county administration, and the local talent, as large-scale filmmaking doesn’t leave room for productions like this.” Kevin Nagle, executive producer, “Not Your Year”

Nearly all the actors involved are veterans of the local institutions like the B Street Theatre, the Capital Stage Company and the Sacramento Theatre Co — including husband and wife Jason Kuykendall and Elisabeth Nunziato, who play male and female leads. Also returning for this project from their current careers in LA and New York City, respectively, are co-stars Lyndsy Kail and Dana Brooke.

“I really hope it can inspire others who want to create right here,” says Kail, who splits her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Among her acting credits, Kail has also worked as a motion-capture performer for the popular video game, Bioshock Infinite. “It’s always a joy to return to Sacramento,

The shoot during a Sacramento Republic FC soccer match on Aug. 8 made some 3,000 fans extras in the film, propelling the already-headline-making team into the news again. Still angling for an MLS bid, the cameo represents the fierce pride locals have for the team, as well as smart marketing plays by the team management. Other than a handful of sports films and documentaries like “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos”, from 2006, American soccer has yet to break the cultural barrier posed by major motion pictures.

The greater Sacramento region, meanwhile, has a history ready for leverage with the filmmaking standard by way of aesthetic diversity, architectural range and pockets of timeless natural surroundings perfect for western, sci-fi, or romantic comedy productions seeking the best bang for their financing buck. The foothills, flats and delta around Sacramento have been a draw to filmmakers for decades, with Buster Keaton’s 1928 farce Steamboat Bill Jr. as one of the earliest movies to be made at least in part in the region. Remember the plane-to-whitewater-rapids scene from 1984’s “Indiana and the Temple of Doom”? That was on the South Fork American River near the Coloma Resort in El Dorado Hills. Those eerily-beautiful aerial shots that frame the opening of 1999’s “American Beauty”? That was East Sacramento, sliding up through the neighborhood of Elmhurst to Dignity Health’s old Mercy General Hospital.

According to Kathleen Dodge, executive director of the Office of Film & Media, the estimated return on investment for the county over the present life of the commission is over 2000 percent, helping filmmakers maximize their budgets while utilizing local resources. The county’s local film guide has over 40 productions shot at least in part there, although television also comes to El Dorado County, like a recent episode of autophile-favorite “Top Gear”, which was filmed on the Rubicon Trail.

“This film is truly a postcard for El Dorado,” Dodge says. “There’s an immediate economic benefit of course, but we’re building our cultural history and promoting the region as a tourist destination in ways that conventional advertising couldn’t.”

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