The words, “lights, camera, action” were heard at Gold Country Retirement Center in Placerville during the filming of a movie.
Fiona Walsh and Sylvia Sether, co-partners of Public Transit Pictures, were on the set location for seven days overseeing the production of the movie “King of Norway.”
The movie is based on a true story about Liv Skarsgaard, who visits her dying father at a retirement facility. She has been absent from his life for more than a decade.
The film, Walsh explained, moves between the past and present lives of Skarsgaard and her father. She is forced to face the fact of her father’s impending passing.
The father has lost most of his memory in an automobile accident that happened when Skarsgaard was 6 years old.
“He doesn’t have any cognitive ability to retain memory or make new memories,” explained Walsh, 31. “But he would always tell her about her, which is an incredibly unique experience.”
The storyline of the movie hits close to home for Sether and Walsh.
Sether admits to having a complicated relationship with her own father, who died in the summer of 2011.
After completion of the movie, Walsh is returning to the Bay Area to admit her own father into a retirement center.
Finding the right location is always an important factor in the filmmaking process.
After Walsh contacted the California Film Commission to find a city and retirement center to make the movie, the commission contacted Kathleen Dodge, executive director of the El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film and Media Office in Placerville.
“Kathleen was actually the first call I got in the response to the bulletin that went out,” Walsh said. “She’s just been incredibly accommodating and helpful. The community and the center was so welcoming.”
Vicky Hume is the director of social services at Gold Country Retirement Center since 1997.
“Once we heard the story line, it gave us goose bumps. We said, ‘It sounds like fun, let’s do it,’” Hume said.
This is the second time a film has been shot at the facility, Hume said. A scary movie was made at the facility shortly after it opened in 1985.
Hume said the facility kept a vacant room available for Walsh and her crew to use during the filming.
“Honestly, we couldn’t have been more pleased. It was exactly what we were looking for in terms of looks. We set our intentions to only go to a place that wanted to have us. We didn’t want, in any way, to be a burden. We wanted it to be fun for everybody. The staff was incredibly accommodating. I need to adopt at least five people from here,” Walsh said.
Hume said, “They seemed so appreciative. We’ve had so much fun and the residents had so much fun.”
Filming was scheduled for five days, but Walsh said the shooting was extended to seven days. The lure of filming attracted the staff’s attention.
Hume admitted to showing up at 7 a.m. on most days of shooting and not leaving until close to 11 p.m.
“For the residents, it gave them something new and exciting,” Hume said.
Flossie Bradshaw, 79, a resident of the facility, said her role in the film was simple: Sit in her wheelchair in most scenes.
“I guess they liked it,” joked Bradshaw. “I enjoyed it. The people were very nice.”
Betty Hock, 94, another resident, was in two scenes in the movie. The first scene had Hock in the hallway when Skarsgaard visits her father for the first time.
Hock’s final scene is when the daughter’s father is trying to escape from the facility in his wheelchair, with Hock being the last person for the father to pass as he is heads toward the exit doors.
Hock said she didn’t know a film was being made until the first day of shooting but enjoyed the process.
“I saw everything that went on,” Hock said.
Walsh added, “Betty watched us all the time. We could always ask Betty how we were doing. We’d say, ‘How are we doing Betty?’ and she’d say, ‘Pretty good.’ She’s so sweet.”
Hock said she told her children and grandchildren that she’s in the “King of Norway.” They are looking forward to seeing her in the movie.
Scottish actress Mariana Palka, 31, plays the daughter in the film.
Palka said she “loves” Gold Country Retirement Center and enjoyed hanging out at some of the local restaurants and bars in El Dorado County.
“I think it’s the history and the people of Placerville,” said Palka. “Everyone in this area has been kind to us. It’s been such a joy. It’s cool to stay in a town that’s really old.
Sether, 30, added, ”It’s such a beautiful town.”
The women loved Placerville so much that they admitted they would come back for vacation.
“I have to come back here because there’s a Slush Puppie machine in town, and I liked it as a kid,” laughed Sether, who started acting and writing when she was 16.
The final scene filmed at the center was when Skarsgaard walks out the door of the retirement center with her father’s personal belongings in a box after he has passed away. She places the box into the passenger side of her car and drives away.
After editing of the film, Walsh said she plans to send the film out to film festivals.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or email@example.com. Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.