About nine months after filming in Redwood City wrapped, the first feature film produced by the arts nonprofit Bravemaker and founder Tony Gapastione has had its hometown premiere. A full house of popcorn-eating friends and film buffs turned out for the April 5 VIP showing of “Last Chance Charlene” at the Cinemark Theatre downtown. The 115-minute film was also an Official Selection of the Cinequest Film Festival and could be seen online last month.
The film is about a woman struggling to make it as a writer/actress while trying to put her life back together in the aftermath of her brother’s suicide and the collateral damage to her marriage. San Mateo resident Allison Ewing, who plays Charlene and is in practically every scene, was on hand with some other cast and crew members for the premiere as well as a panel discussion afterward.
Some of the most moving scenes in the movie involved her and her mother, played by Alley Mills, famous as Norma Arnold in the beloved TV show, “The Wonder Years.” For Gapastione, who had previously written and directed lots of short films, it was a major stretch to go for a feature-length film, and he was thrilled when Mills agreed to be in the movie he wrote and directed. He appears in the film, too, as Charlene’s departed brother, advising and commenting on her activities.
Filmed in 12 ½ days, the movie was produced on a shoestring budget, which the Redwood City resident stretched by, among other things, using free locations. Local audiences will have fun spotting locations such as Courthouse Square, Cyclismo Café and the Port of Redwood City but may not immediately recognize St. John’s Cemetery in San Mateo. “It’s hard making a film,” Gapastione told the premiere audience. “That’s why people talk about it and never do it.” He was fundraising while he was on the set. Covid protocols had to be followed. And then in October, the hard drive for the whole movie was lost—fortunately, someone was able to rescue it from digital oblivion.
Though “Last Chance Charlene” was ready for its hometown showtime, Bravemaker is still raising money for some additional sound design work in Los Angeles and for marketing. To learn more and see the movie trailer, go to bravemaker.com.