Yes, if your Monday morning intention was to enjoy the shops-opening moment in downtown Edmonds you probably caught on quickly that a movie was being shot at Engel’s Pub, 113 5th Ave. Movie producer Chris Oliver spoke with My Edmonds News about “The Gift” between takes as traffic along 5th Avenue came to a halt, and the director shouted, “Quiet on the set!”
With the intention of entering “The Gift” in the Berlin Film Festival, Oliver is looking toward a pre-December “wrap” for his production as the film makes its way through the international film festival circuit. Asked, “Why Edmonds?” the producer revealed that – of his many projects – he has “never had an opportunity to film in Edmonds.” Educated at the University of Washington’s School of Business, the young filmmaker scoffed at the notion that one can only learn the nuances of film production at film schools. To prove the point, Oliver revealed that he is best known for the PBS program, “The Artist Tool Box.” One can track the production of “The Gift” on Chris Oliver’s IMBd (International Movie Database) page.
Set in the 1970s, with the Kent State shooting as the historical bookmark “The Gift” is the story of a father and son’s struggle to understand the other’s perspective on the Vietnam war. The scene being shot Monday morning has the military-attired father sitting down at Engel’s Pub for a beer with his son, who has just been drafted. The cross-hair of the scene is that the son’s best friend has just announced his intention to dodge the draft as news of the Kent State shooting plays on the pub’s radio. It is at this moment that the father begins his own personal introspection about the Vietnam war. Oliver, a Mukilteo resident, was surprised by a set visit from neighbor Susan Hanson, who stood on the sidelines watching the production with Mary Kay Sneeringer, owner of Edmonds Bookshop. Engel’s Pub was selected for the pub scene because its décor fits so perfectly into the 1970s era without much additional set design effort. And, Oliver offers, “Because the owner, Todd Williamson, is so cool!”
— Story and photos by Emily Hill