A directing duo known to me

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A still from “A Person Known to Me,” which screens Friday, Dec. 6 at Peregrine Book Co. Courtesy image.

By Helen Stephenson

Picture the old Doublemint commercial: “Two, two, two mints in one!”

Not a gum person? Try Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups: “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!” “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
OK. So, you love movies and you love books, right?

What if you could squeeze both of them into the same project?

Welcome to the creative world of filmmakers Stephanie Argy and Alec Boehm of Mental Slapstick Productions.

They’ve embarked on a journey to create an 11-part serial adventure that uses both graphic novels and films to tell the story of Mahoney & Porter, a legendary detective agency circa 1895-1905.

At 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at Peregrine Book Company, Argy and Boehm unveil the first film in the series, “A Person Known to Me.” They said it’s perfect to have the screening at a bookstore and both are scheduled to attend alongside two actors from the film, Peter and Kaya Wiant. The screening is free, but seating is limited. It’s first come, first seated.

This is “one big story, like a serialized Dickens epic,” Argy said. “We’re asking people to follow the story back and forth from books to movies.”

Best case scenario, that’s what’ll happen Friday.

“We’ve been eager to have conversations with both readers and movie fans to find out ways to make the experience of going back and forth as fluid and fun as possible.” Argy said. “We’d love to have the evening evolve into a conversation about how to make that happen.”

“A Person Known to Me” is a 26-minute short film that’s actually the fifth part of the 11-part series; it’s to be preceded by four graphic novels. Still, this is the first movie and first incarnation of the whole series. It’s the first time audiences can see the characters on film.

“A Person Known to Me” was shot it Port Townsend, Wash., a Victorian seaport about two-and-a-half hours northwest of Seattle. The next film in the series will be shot in Yavapai County this year.

Argy and Boehm set the detectives’ cases in locations that’ve been significant in their own travels.

“Yavapai County has truly been one of the most important places in the world for us,” Argy said. “We were introduced to the area when Helen Stephenson showed our feature ‘The Red Machine’ and our short film ‘Gandhi at the Bat’ as part of the Prescott Film Festival monthly series.”

After that, “The Red Machine” got the Best Independent Feature Award at the Sedona International Film Festival.

“That was the movie’s first big award, and it changed everything for the movie and for us,” Argy said. “Next, Helen brought both of our movies back to Prescott for the first-ever Prescott Film Festival.”

“The Red Machine” was the opening night movie; “Gandhi at the Bat” won the Best Short award.

In order to film the section they want to in Yavapai County, Argy and Boehm are skipping part six of the story and diving headlong into part seven. It’s the tale of a mine owner who’s poisoned with cyanide.

Argy and Boehm are currently working to immerse themselves in the community, learn about its history, and find cast and crew willing to join their adventure. Then they’ll put together a story that weaves local history, geography, and people together with their continuing tale while highlighting what makes the area unique.

Between the screening and the shoot, the duo will be holding one last round of auditions to gather up the last of their cast and crew. Email them at Info@MentalSlapstick.Com for details.

Visit PrescottFilmFestival.Com or follow the fest at Facebook.Com/PrescottFilmFest or on Twitter @PrescottFilmFest to find out more about upcoming Prescott Film Festival events. Next up for Prescott Film Fest is Oscar month in February and the “An Evening at the Academy Awards” fundraiser on March 2.

*****

Helen Stephenson is executive director of the Prescott Film Festival and collects old hats and Mary Poppins memorabilia. When she’s not watching films or marketing the fest, you can usually catch her at the computer in her Prescott Film Festival office on the Yavapai College campus. Contact her at Helen@PrescottFilmFestival.Com.

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