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By Brendan Higgins
Photos courtesy of Kelly Gentile – @BlindGirlMedia
On Sunday night, the Greenwich Odeum held a private screening for the independent film, Space Oddity. The movie was shot on location at the majestic Robin Hollow Farm in Saunderstown. Many scenes were also shot in the heart of Wickford Village. The film stars Kyle Allen, Alexandra Shipp, Kevin Bacon, Madeline Brewer and Carrie Preston. It was directed by Kyra Sedgwick. The movie also features a supporting cast of many local actors.
This was a big night for the cast and crew of the film. There was a positive vibe running throughout the theatre in anticipation of what everyone was about to witness on the big screen. Our host for the premiere was the head of the Rhode Island Film and TV office, Steven Feinberg. He warmly welcomed everyone to the event.
Feinberg is a Rhode Island native. He spoke with great pride about the new film. He invited Kyra Sedgwick to join him on stage. This set in motion a magical evening for everyone in attendance. The crowd cheered wildly as the Hollywood icon walked to center stage. Sedgwick addressed the audience. She said, “This is a stunning, beautiful state. The movie is a love letter to the planet, and a love letter to Rhode Island.” She went on to tell everyone involved in making the movie that this was their night. Once again, the audience erupted with a joyous round of applause. Feinberg has deep roots in the Ocean State having grown up here. He invited everyone to stay after the private screening, for a Q&A with Sedgwick and fellow producer Valerie Stadler of Big Swing Productions.
As for the movie itself, it was fantastic. The cast has great chemistry, especially between Allen and Shipp. The film also featured a group of child actors who were outstanding. Many of them were in attendance for the premiere including, Liam Anderson, 11, of Norton, and Jack Hueter, 12, of Danvers. When you add the legendary Kevin Bacon to the mix, it made for an entertaining film from beginning to end.
The movie centers around a Rhode Island family dealing with extreme loss. They all have their own coping mechanisms. Alex, played by Kyle Allen, enters a sketchy space program as an astronaut recruit. His goal is to move to Mars to live out the rest of his life there. As the movie progresses you realize this is his way of dealing with the family tragedy. When Alex meets Daisy, played by Alexandra Shipp, his plan for leaving the planet hits some bumps in the road.
The film features wonderful camera shots of locations in and around North Kingstown. While the movie was playing, the audience cheered frequently at these familiar landmarks. Some of the local cast were seeing themselves on the big screen for the very first time. This included an ensemble of very talented children. It was a special moment to watch the expressions on their faces when they appeared on screen.
One cast member in attendance was the stunning Becky Bass, of East Providence. She plays Renee in the film. Bass expressed gratitude and humility after watching the movie herself for the first time. She said, “This was the first time I got to see myself on the big screen. My first movie was during Covid. We never had a red carpet. We never had an opening. This is my first official premiere of a movie I worked on. To be here with my people and the community is a beautiful moment.”
At the conclusion of the movie, a Q&A was held. Feinberg returned to the stage. He took a few moments to thank all the people who helped make this film a reality. He expressed how much time and hard work goes into making an independent film. He invited Sedgwick and Stadler to join him on stage. During the Q&A session, Stadler had this to say about her time in Rhode Island. “We loved filming in Rhode Island. It was such a wonderful experience. We felt so welcome. Steve Feinberg is the champion of all films coming from here. He creates an environment that is so film friendly. We all love him.”
Sedgwick added, “We fell in love with this project because it’s a great story that takes you on an amazing journey. It has the wherever you go, there you are, idea in it. It’s a beautiful story that is funny and sad and hopeful at the end. It has a romance on top of everything else going on. How could we go wrong?”
This film was not without its challenges. Sedgwick explained, “Casting during the pandemic was difficult. We really couldn’t meet with anyone face to face. It was all done with Zoom meetings and looking at film. I didn’t get to read anybody. We didn’t get to do what’s called a chemistry read. When we get everyone together and see what we think. We hired these people, then had to cross our fingers that when they all came together, they would actually look like a family. We got really lucky. This cast has soul. They all had some hurt in their eyes. That was important for this movie. We had 21 days to shoot. We all worked really hard.”
As for the soundtrack, Sedgwick said, “The music was composed by my son, Travis Bacon, and Scott Hendricks. We asked Brandi Carlile to do a cover of the song Space Oddity. Brandi was really excited about it.”
If you go back to when they were making this movie, some residents of Wickford had a firsthand look. Wickford resident, Cat Monfette, experienced the filming of Space Oddity up close and personal. She recalled, “They filmed a couple of scenes right in my yard. I got to watch from my window. I saw so many things behind the scenes. They actually built a gazebo on the lawn of Updike Square. They filmed the kids’ scenes right on the gazebo. I met a lot of crew members. They were all cool. They were really nice.”
When you live in Wickford, parking can be a sacred thing. You do not park in someone’s parking spot, and that’s that. One day, Monfette came home to find someone had parked in her spot. She explained, “I’m pretty adamant about my parking spot. Everyone knows that around the area. Well, one day I came home and found a spaceship in my spot. Under the circumstances I parked somewhere else for the day. How could I say no to the children’s spaceship?
The cast and crew of Space Oddity have certainly left their mark on the state of Rhode Island. They now join a long list of great films made in the Ocean State. I highly recommend this film. In a world filled with negativity and complicated issues, Space Oddity will give you a reason to smile. It will also introduce you to some amazing actors from our area.
Space Oddity is now playing in select theaters across the country. It will be streaming on HULU soon.
Brendan Higgins, writer and author, RIPTA bus driver, former professional wrestler (Knuckles Nelson), and North Kingstown resident.
We welcome Brendan as a contributing writer to RINewsToday.
To read a story about Brendan, from our sports department, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/knuckles-nelson-waking-up-from-the-wrestling-ring-to-the-yoga-mat-john-cardullo/
To read all stories by Brendan, here, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/brendan-higgins
Higgins is the author of “Waking Up: From the Wrestling Ring to the Yoga Mat