FARMINGTON — A short film debuting this evening at the 2011 St. Louis Film Festival has several local ties. The film includes local people, vehicles and a location.
Bedlam Street was written, produced and directed by Paul Wendell. It features actor David Conley and a long list of actors and actresses. While 90 percent of the film was shot in the St. Louis metropolitan area, the remainder was filmed in and around Farmington.
Information about Bedlam Street can be found at Pitch20.com. The website includes a trailer and slideshow along with information about the cast and crew. Under the list of Associate Producers is Farmington businessman Dennis Boyd, owner of Denny Motors.
Boyd explained that he first became involved in the film after he was contacted about possibly supplying some police cars. Denny Motors sells all kinds of used vehicles, but specializes in dealing in late model used police cars made available to law enforcement agencies.
In recent years Boyd has also dabbled with supplying a couple of his personal vehicles to the film industry. Several years ago he became interested in the movie Walking Tall, the story of Buford Pusser, the sheriff of a small county in Tennessee. In the months that followed, Boyd recreated the police car portrayed in the movie.
Eventually he returned to Pusser’s hometown and the reproduction police car became an instant hit with the locals. He’s been back to the Tennessee community several times since for annual celebrations of the sheriff and his story. Talk about that car eventually led him to purchase and outfit a second vintage police car — this time recreating the car driven by James Best in his portrayal of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltraine in the Dukes of Hazzard television series on CBS.
An appearance in Illinois with actor Best and the “Roscoe” car resulted in Boyd being contacted to supply his historically-marked patrol cars for the filming of a segment for the History channel. And that, in turn, eventually led to the creators of Bedlam Street contacting him about being involved in the new short film.
Boyd said the film crew used five police cars over a period of several weeks in late 2008. None of the cars were damaged despite being used throughout the filming. He said his willingness to work with the filmmakers ultimately led to him supplying them with other vehicles and a filming location.
Several scenes in the movie center around urban themes, including gas stations. But the crew needed to film a few scenes inside a convenience store. They quickly discovered that most of the gas stations in the St. Louis area are open 24 hours a day. They needed several hours at a time to film a scene. So connections were made with Dean Bone, co-owner of the service station at the corner of State Route 32 and OO on Farmington’s southeast side. The film crew visited the station and determined it would work great for their needs.
For several weeks in 2008 the crew would show up at 10:01 p.m., a minute after the gas station closed, and begin filming scenes. Through the course of developing the film they eventually needed a fire truck and an ambulance. Boyd helped make connections for both, and supplied the film crew and actors with a motor home during their time in town.
With all the scenes recorded, Wendell went to work to put together his 90-minute film. He calls the film “a dark, gritty, character driven drama. Taking place on one day near Christmas in a rundown, inner city environment. It is told from the perspectives of a troubled youth, a police officer, a prostitute and an immigrant family running a local convenience store. On the surface, it examines themes surrounding crime, poverty, race, religion, family and the innocence of children.”
Wendell hopes his film debut at the St. Louis festival will get his piece of work “discovered”, but more importantly showcase his talents as a creator and filmmaker. The film will debut this evening at the Tivoli Theater in the Delmar Loop at 7 p.m.
As for Boyd, he’s still finding inroads into the film business. Since the work with Bedlam Street he’s supplied police cars, a cab and a bus for scenes in movies, television shows and music videos. He’s even made several short appearances, showing up as a bus driver or cabbie, or an extra as needed while he’s on location with his vehicles.