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As you work in the film business you’re often taken away from your family for great lengths of time. When you have the opportunity to not only work with a group of filmmakers that you consider family but to also have your family involved in a project it is quite interesting!
When we first began the process of our film CROOKED LANE there were time obstacles for me to be involved during principal photography. I told Chase I could produce that part of the film in absentia and that by bringing in Greg Smith to produce he would have an extension of me. Smitty and I have worked together for 15 years. We’re as close as most brothers and fight like it sometime (come on, he’s a Yankees fan) !!! Chase also suggested to my wife Bethany that she should co-produce the film. She resisted at first from what I believe was fear of the unknown. Bethany has had a long career in the film business but she had never ventured into the production side. Once she agreed I was duly excited. We’ve always talked about our various projects and deals but this would be the first time we would work together.
Now that was the easy part of working with the family……
When we began the casting process Chase and Bethany were going to work closely together with our Casting Director, John Campanello. Chase began by asking Bethany if she had any dark haired 9 year olds on her roster of actors. Immediately she looked at Chase quizzically and said, “Well yes, I gave birth to one”. That 9 year old was our daughter Eliya-Quaye! So the casting began moving forward enough so that Chase asked me if I was ok with Eliya-Quaye playing the part of Bailey. My response as always was “to do what’s best for the film and if she’s is best then I’m all for it” and “don’t do it for Bethany or I”.
Eliya-Quaye eventually was cast as Bailey. As much as Mommy was involved she really did it all on her own. Bethany and I were very proud of her although we knew the hardest part was yet to come!
As I’ve said, I was producing in absentia for most of principal photography so…
Jumping ahead I had these crazy thoughts. Not only was I the executive producer of the film, I was the father of one of the three young girls who were cast in the film. The first time I saw the edit of the film I was watching as a dad and couldn’t believe the emotion I felt in watching Eliya-Quaye. That was my little one up there on the monitors!!! I hope you’ll like what she’s done on screen!
There is the adage about ‘don’t blink because your kids will be adults’ and is so true. I spent a lot of Eliya-Quaye’s(and our 6 year old son Caleb’s) early life on the road. At times, the family packed it up and came to Nashville, Miami, Los Angeles or wherever the job took me. As the kids grew to begin school the idea of leaving was something I didn’t want to think about. The idea that we would one day work together was something I never thought would happen either!! Try it sometime, it might be the thrill of a lifetime!
Crooked Lane will be hosting a few contests prior to the NH premier. The first is now live on our home page (found here). It is a bit hidden. See if you can find the link with your mouse, and sign up!
The second contest will launch shortly from the Facebook Fan Page, and the prize is much bigger. To be included in the announcement at the end of September, please join the Facebook Fan Page, and do tell your friends about it also so that they might have a chance to win!
And so, as stories were told and were spread like wildfire amongst the communities of New England as the original territories of what was to become the United States of America, the tale of Les Cimetieres des Abbatus struck a chord, especially amongst those with families.
The “teller of stories”, be it in a pub, inn, or other such public locale, would (as the fire was dying and folks were ready to call it a night) begin his tale. It was “malevolent spirits”, he would intone as sparks popped from the charred wood in the hearth (and perhaps startle a person more prone to jumpiness). Perhaps they are Ancient Ones, vengeful for some perceived wrong of the past, he (for it was always a male telling the stories, back in those days) might have said. And, true to their evil intents on scarring the victimized families where it hurt the most, they only took the women and the children.
But that which is true now was most certainly true then: When children go missing, the woman’s will to go on is severely tested. Yet another casualty would be the destruction of the family as well.
In some past cases, particularly in the early 20th century, women who had lost their children would continue to claim to have seen their missing children year after year after year – yet even after years, would still see their “babies” aged not even one year in appearance. Some destitute mothers were forcibly institutionalized, due to their “unhealthy obsessions.”
In a particularly sad case in the 1960’s, a woman kidnapped a little boy she was convinced was her own – fifteen years after her own disappeared. The woman, apparently distressed when she realized it wasn’t hers, had drowned him in her bathtub and promptly left town, to never be seen again. To this day, her fate is unknown.
But in Puritan Massachusetts, circa 1692, it is said that some of these women “cursed” by the disappeared children faced a far grimmer fate.
That fate befell them, some say, on Gallows Hill, near Salem Village.
The crime? Witchcraft.
The fate? Hanging.
… to be followed, again, shortly …
Brett Cullen talks about his character, Ben, and what he thinks happens to Ava and the rest of the souls.
We asked everyone in the cast and crew to tell us a bit about their character or what they did for the movie behind the scenes, how they came to be involved and, most importantly: “What Happens To Ava?”. Thomas Bailey and Ann Cusack talked about it during the first day of shooting in this video:
There are folks in Keene, New Hampshire who remember September 1963 as the coldest September in history, with temperatures barely topping 20 degrees on the thermometer.
There are others, however, who might recall another event – one that had old-timers’ tongues wagging nonstop in barbershops, bars, and bingo parlors for years on end.
For that was the month that James Riley, 8, mysteriously disappeared while walking home from school. In this tight-knit community of 18,000 souls, this opened old wounds from 15 years previous – almost to the exact day – that another 8 year old boy, one Bob McArdle, had also disappeared under the same circumstances. Bob’s mother, nurse Mary McArdle, never recovered. Found pacing back and forth in the cold and the rain off of Route 12 three days after the loss of her son, she was duly institutionalized.
“Poor Mary,” the townsfolk sadly noted. Her sister had vanished when Mary was only three years of age. Eight years after, her mother Anne also disappeared.
For three years, Mary spent her time in the sanitarium receiving weekly electro-shock therapies. But the only words that ever passed her lips, spoken as if like a mantra, were “The necklace. It was the necklace, it was the necklace …”
Bob McArdle was never seen again.
And so it was the memory of the tragedy of Mary McArdle that was in people’s minds when young James Riley never made it home from his school three blocks away that freezing September afternoon. James’ mother, Sarah Riley, issued a single heartfelt plea to a gathering of citizenry, reporters, and police officers: “Please, find my son.”
Two days passed without any luck. And then something very strange happened.
Mary McArdle’s older brother reported that she had not shown up at church, and was not answering her phone. An avid churchgoer, Mary had never missed a service; her brother called and asked if the police could check on her at her house and make sure she was alright.
When the police knocked on her front door, no one answered. Investigating the perimeter of the house, they found that the back door was slightly ajar. No one seemed to be home. They let themselves in and began to search the two-room cottage. And when an officer opened the door to Mary’s bathroom, it was then that the general strangeness of the situation suddenly turned tragic.
For there, in her claw-footed bathtub, they found the body of young James Riley. He had been drowned, and was still clad in the clothes he was wearing when he disappeared. Mary was nowhere to be seen. There was only one clue in the claustrophobic room, and it was five words, scrawled haphazardly on the mirror with a tube of bright red lipstick: “IT IS NOT MY SON.”
Mary McArdle, like her son Bob fifteen years previously, was never seen again.
… to be followed, again, shortly …
During a delightful (and mysteriously sunny) Sunday afternoon on the outdoor deck of the Oarhouse in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I sat down with Chase Bailey, writer and director of Crooked Lane, over a light lunch and asked him about the inspiration behind the movie.
He leaned forward with a slight smile and breathed sharply through his teeth. “Ah, that,” he said at last. “A few years ago, I remember running across this remote graveyard in Brookfield, New Hampshire. I was with my wife and brother-in-law at the time, and they told me [that] this was one of the ‘unmarked’ cemeteries. I asked them why they weren’t marked, and they told me it was because there were no bodies buried there.” A slight wind picked up off the glassy surface of the Piscataqua, momentarily chilling the exposed skin of my forearms. I shivered briefly. No bodies?
No bodies. “I have now seen four of these cemeteries in various remote locations, and I began to hear this phrase – what was it again? – oh, yes … Les Cimetieres des Abbatus. Cemeteries of the Culled, is what it roughly translates to. I naturally began investigating.”
I asked him if the Internet was any help. “Funnily enough,” he said, “I couldn’t find much information on the web, but by talking to old-time residents whose roots stretch back generations, I found that these gravestones were put there for missing people. Missing people, all from the same families – and they all turned out to be women and children! Something was taking place in these families, [something] was just decimating [them].”
He sat back in his chair and took a sip of his wine. “Especially,” he said, “the women and the children. And that’s what piqued my curiosity and helped me start the process of writing Crooked Lane.”
… to be followed, again, shortly …
During a recent chat with writer/director Chase Bailey, it has come to light that Crooked Lane is actually inspired by a myriad of mysterious happenstances that have been playing out in the Northeast for hundreds of years, spanning several generations of New Englanders and French Canadians.
Although many details tend to be a bit foggy and sources range from the vague to the mysteriously effusive, the bottom line is that a disproportionately large number of people have been simply disappearing off the face of the Earth under dubious circumstances for quite some time. While this in itself doesn’t necessarily warrant the ringing of any sirens of alarm, this fact — and this fact alone — should give one pause and maybe reconsider what forces may — unseen and malevolent — surround us:
The vast majority of the missing have been women and children and — here’s the kicker — from the same families, to boot. This in itself makes it quite an odd series of events, indeed.
Where legend and fact intersect may never actually be known by anybody, ever, but this much is known: Stories were told, and rumors spread easily, especially amongst the earlier inhabitants of New England. In the areas surrounding Quebec, these events were (and still are, in some circles) known as “Les Temps des Abattus.”
Or, in English, “The Times of the Culled.”
The clear majority of these instances occurred before the advent of television, radio, and the Internet — so stories were often told in the safety of taverns, inns, and especially on the docks near Portsmouth on the banks of the Piscataqua River, ever since the year 1623 when “Piscataqua” was first spelled the way you and I spell it now, comfortably here in modern times.
… to be followed, shortly …
Meet Eliya-Quaye Constance, who plays Bailey. She’s telling us a bit about her character and the film (Her first speaking role! Congratulations!)
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