By Ellen Chappelle
Actress Lorraine Montez may hail from New Mexico, but she feels right at home in Edmonds, where she has lived for the past eight years. She loves patronizing local hot spots like Driftwood Players, Edmonds Theater and Chanterelle. Marina Park’s off-leash dog beach is another favorite hang-out for Montez and Michael Wilde, her musician husband (snd their dogs love it, too!) She also enjoys “the beauty of living in Edmonds,” even celebrating the more informal seasonal events: “Soap in the fountain means spring is here!” she smiles.
But what has her most excited these days is her new film, “Stop Requested.” A metaphysical suspense thriller taking place on a most unusual bus, the film wears a lot of Montez’s fingerprints; she wrote the original story on which it was based, she stars in the film, and she is also one if its producers.
Very unusual bus rolls through Seattle
“Stop Requested” tells the story of a troubled woman named Jess. Haunted by her past and sensitivity to the spiritual realm that she attempts to silence with prescription drugs, she is paralyzed by the mere thought of human contact. Enter Benjamin, an intense, atypical individual who invades Jess’s life with the claim that he is there to help her help herself. And he won’t leave until she does. As Jess experiences more and more intense manifestations of her spiritual gifts, her fate places her squarely in the middle of the age-old struggle between order and chaos, while the battle for souls plays itself out in the lives of seemingly ordinary people.
“This film is provocative, intriguing and thought-provoking.” stated Montez. “Many of us working on the project have never seen anything quite like it. It combines genres and film styles in ways I’ve seldom seen before.”
It’s no wonder that “Stop Requested” is a swirling mix of styles and ideas. The talented cast and crew bring a bevy of experience and awards from all genres of stage and screen. And with that collaboration, the story has gone from a woman trying to recover from the loss of a loved one to a woman caught in a metaphysical wrestling match between order and chaos.
“This film is a testament to true indie collaboration,” says the film’s director and co-writer Ben Andrews. “We’ve got a stellar cast and crew of professionals from Seattle and Los Angeles attached to the film that will blow people away.” Andrews is also co-owner (along with Montez) of Abundant Productions, the company producing “Stop Requested.”
Film helps boost Seattle film industry
The independent film began life as a short, but has grown to a feature-length project, employing over 25 local cast and crew members. This offers a welcome assist to Seattle’s film industry, which has been waning in recent years as Hollywood has often chosen less expensive locales such as Vancouver, B.C., New Mexico and Detroit to film their movies.
But Montez says the pendulum is beginning to swing back the other way as local production companies and film industry organizations strive to make Washington state the place to make films again. As the aforementioned cities are now removing some of the tax breaks for film makers, the playing field is leveling again. And many small Seattle-area companies like Abundant Productions are working to do a better job of communicating the vision for their films and following through by creating high-quality productions, with the goal of bringing more film industry business back to Seattle.
The difficulty currently facing the producers of “Stop Requested” is the same issue that seems to rear its ugly head in more and more areas in this economy: funding. So the producers are working several unusual angles to raise the money to distribute this film, including creating a page on an online fundraising site.
An actor who wears many hats
In response to dwindling performance opportunities, Montez started writing her own material several years ago. “There are not a lot of interesting roles for women my age,” she explained. Realizing she had all the skills needed to be a producer, she started Abundant Productions in 2009, which produces features, TV and web-based series, shorts, commercials and industrials. They also have several other films – some finished and some not – for which they hope to find distribution.
Despite a dearth of good roles, Montez did find a challenge in the character she plays in the film. Jess, whom Montez says is “exhausting to play,” is a very introverted woman who holds her feelings in and avoids embracing her destiny. Montez, on the other hand, is a lively, friendly redhead with energy to spare! She enjoyed the acting challenge of internalizing both the emotional and the physical aspects of Jess.
Clearly, the process was cathartic for Montez, as well. She wrote the story on which the film is based after her family went through a difficult time of multiple losses, one of which was her mother’s death after a bout with cancer. From that pain came the story of a woman struggling with how to get back into life and learn to love again.
Montez has extensive professional credits in film and theater and has now added writing and producing for corporate videos, shorts, TV and web-based series and feature films to her collection of hats. She also co-wrote and co-produced the pilot “Cloak & Dagger” for “Star Trek: Phoenix.”
As an actor, Montez has most recently been seen as the whacky Ruby Marigold in the TV series “The Divine Marigolds,” the deadly Sandra Broadmire in the feature film “Dominance,” and the tough Trill Major Ulti Natyra on board “Star Trek: Phoenix.” She is also an accomplished stage actress and a well-known and respected acting coach in the Puget Sound area.
With a background in theatre and journalism, Ellen Chappelle is perfectly poised to covers the local arts scene for My Edmonds News. She also keeps busy writing and editing for artists and small businesses, publishing an informational site for dog owners and creating handcrafted jewelry. Please keep her posted about all things artistic in Edmonds by emailing her at [email protected]