Silver Cove to Silver Lake

Jenny Scarborough

Independent film Silver Cove wrapped its final scenes on Ocracoke.

Silver Cove follows modern day bootleggers as they transport cash from a bank robbery over mountain trails. During the journey, the characters outwit FBI agents, evade hijackers, and endure the discomfort and perils of wilderness travel. They do all this for the kids in their care. Eventually, they make their way to an idyllic island, to start afresh.

Ocracoke scenes were filmed on the ferry, and at sunset on the beach.

Drew Boyd, Actors Paul Gunter and Kayli Tolleson, and Co-Writer and Producer Warren Smith.
Drew Boyd, Actors Paul Gunter and Kayli Tolleson, and Co-Writer and Producer Warren Smith.

Producer and co-writer Warren Smith, a recent graduate of the NC School of the Arts, sipped coffee from Ocracoke Coffee Co. as he talked about his first feature-length film. Warren worked for two summers at the Coffee Shop, and admits writing Ocracoke into the script was an excuse to come back to the beach. He was happy to see familiar faces after four years away from the island.

The other principal locations were 23 mountain acres, and Silver Cove at the Arthur Morgan School, where Warren was a student in 7th grade. Because affordable locations are a challenge for low budget filmmakers, "We wrote the whole story around locations we knew we had access to," said Warren.

An campaign raised $5000 toward production costs. Family and friends of the crew invested the rest.

The cast and crew of Silver Cove are recent graduates and current students of UNCSA, or connections fostered by the publicly funded arts school. Jacob LaGuardia co-wrote and directed. Photography Director Daniel Satinoff, whom Warren calls "a genius," traveled from LA for the shoot.

Everyone worked for free. Record rainfall during the first week of filming culled the volunteer crew from 25 to a determined 10. Hired equipment and insurance last only so long on a tight budget, and the actors, cinematographer, set designer, director and others had paying jobs to return to.

Thirteen year old actor Kayli Maree Tolleson's mother praised the crew's perseverance. "Most productions would have abandoned ship," said Tolleson, who has accompanied her daughter on the sets of many low budget films.

The challenging conditions, trials and tribulations during the shoot come across on the screen, said Warren. The movie evolved and grew on its own during filming, "but that's a good thing," he said. "We were moving together through the wilderness just like the characters."

"We know the movie will die if we don't do it together," said Warren. Filming wrapped in three weeks, and a "cut that's watchable" will be ready in about six months. The film will be submitted to smaller festivals and heavy hitters like Sundance and Toronto with hopes of finding a distributor. When the final cut is complete in 10 to 12 months, a screening could happen on Ocracoke.

"We want to get this thing on screens. That's the goal of every movie," said Warren. Showing Silver Cove in theaters would be a triumph for the cast and crew, almost all of whom are under the age of 25.

The oldest person on the set "was me," laughed Kayli's mom. There was that tall older man with a long white beard, said Kayli. I knew who she meant. David Senseney once commanded the stage as the principal in Ocracoke productions of A Tale of Blackbeard, and has a small role in the film.

Almost nine year old Paul Gunter was happy to work for free. "You get fun out of it," he said. Everyone had smiles the morning after filming wrapped.

The opportunities to network, practice their craft and create a movie showcasing their skills add value. "It's a chance to do what we were trained to do, and not intern in LA, which is ironically what I'll likely do next," said Warren.


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