November 26, 2014

Local Landmarks Serve as Backdrop For Film Being Shot by PHS Graduate


HOLLYWOOD COMES TO PRINCETON: If the man on the left looks familiar, it might be because he is actor Charlie Bewley, who played a recurring role on TV’s “Nashville” as the love interest of Hayden Panetierre. If the woman on the right looks familiar, it’s because she is Cece King, who grew up in Princeton and has come back to town to shoot a film she has written and in which she co-stars. “The Broken Ones” has been filming around town, most recently at the Peacock Inn and an empty house on Cleveland Lane.

The circular driveway fronting 42 Cleveland Lane was clogged with vans on the unseasonably warm Monday of this week. Between the columns of the 194-year-old house’s graceful front porch, young cast and crew members of The Broken Ones, a movie being filmed at several locations in town, were carting in equipment as they prepared to shoot a scene.

Described by Cece King, who wrote and co-stars in the movie, as “a 24-hour love story,” the film tells the tale of two despondent, twenty-something strangers who meet one night and help each other overcome their near-suicidal fears. “It’s a coming of age drama, kind of like Blue Velvet meets Garden State,” said Ms. King, 27, the daughter of Princeton interior designer Judy King.

Co-starring with Ms. King in the film is Charlie Bewley, known to fans of the TV drama Nashville as Charlie Wentworth, a past, nasty lover of lead character Juliette Barnes; James Russo, who starred in Extremities and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, among other roles; Margaret Colin, of Gossip Girl and Chicago Hope, and Constance Shulman of Orange is the New Black. 

It is an impressive cast for someone who is something of a newcomer to filmmaking, but Ms. King had the right mix of talent and determination to get the project off the ground. She is a graduate of Princeton High School who started studying communications at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida but left at 20 to take courses in Italy. “I got very interested in doing something different once I went to Italy,” she said. “My mom had gone to school for set design, and I think it was always in my mind.”

During an ensuing summer in New York, Ms. King happened upon a book by Catherine Hardwicke, who was the production designer for the Twilight movies. Ms. Hardwicke’s writings inspired her to go to Los Angeles and pursue production design, which was followed by film school, where she learned about writing, editing, and reading scripts. She also had the opportunity to act.

“I really liked it,” said Ms. King, who had never played roles in school productions while growing up. “I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.” She found a manager and got a few small parts in films and on the television show All My Children. After spending part of last summer acting in a film shot in the Philippines (“I played a sociopath in the jungle,” she said), Ms. King started thinking about bringing together acting, writing, and design in a story that had been in her mind for some time.

“I shot a teaser that was directed by actor Martin Henderson, of the soon-to-be-released film Everest, and it got some attention,” she said. “I got the financing, and here we are. It’s kind of amazing.”

Local connections have come in handy. Marti Moseley, an agent with Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, arranged for Ms. King to use the empty house on Cleveland Lane to shoot several scenes. “I didn’t realize how hard it is to get locations,” Ms. King says. “I called Marti, who is a friend, and this house happened to come through. Of course, if she needs to show it, we have to vacate, but that hasn’t happened yet.”

Other scenes have been shot in the woods near Education Testing Service, at the Peacock inn, at a barn at Digging Dog Farm on Rosedale Road, and at Ms. Moseley’s home. Future scenes are to be filmed in New York City. The crew will wrap up the Princeton portion of the shoot at the end of this month.

Some 35 to 40 people make up the cast and crew of the film, with producers locally and in Los Angeles. Elyse Niblett is making her directing debut. Among the principal members of the cast, “I definitely have the more minimal of the resumes,” Ms. King said. “I’m learning so much as an actor and a writer. Everyone is on board and everyone is trying to make this work. We have high hopes. We want to send this to Indie festivals.”

Spending a week shooting in her home town has been a pleasure in some respects, and a challenge in others. “I tend to go into the work and stay there,” Ms. King said. “So it can be hard because my family is around and I want to enjoy being with them. But I’m not complaining.”