The words ‘quiet on set!’ could be heard from production crew members in the Chateau Meroux, the countryside home of Sean Gnekow, which is nestled next to Woodward Reservoir, about four miles north of Oakdale.
An independent film company, Contradiction Films, Inc., chose Oakdale for the location of its first romantic comedy, The Chateau Meroux.
The story is about a girl who, after living in the city, returned to Oakdale when she inherited her father’s winery. However, trouble ensued when she fell in love with the competitor’s son.
Unlike most films, the story was created around a location as opposed to trying to find a location to fit the story, said Tim Carter, producer and co-owner of Contradiction Films, Inc.
“The location enhances it a lot, because it naturally fits here,” Carter said.
Oakdale resident Gnekow, along with actor Daniel Bastreghi, wrote the story around the home and location.
Carter said that reduced the normal compromises that are made between the story and location.
Additionally, “there is no studio to slow the process down,” Carter said.
This allowed them to avoid the typical seven-year process from conception to filming. The Chateau Meroux has only been a one-year process.
The small town allows for an open and relaxed atmosphere, which speeds up the process, Carter added.
Not only does the small town provide a unique filming experience for the crew, but should provide a unique viewing experience for the audience, Gnekow said.
“The audience will feel the way you do when you are here,” said Gnekow.
The film portrays country life and values that Oakdale lends itself to well, filmmakers said.
Carter added, “It’s spectacular being out here.”
The community of Oakdale embraced the crew with the “spirit of cooperation,” Gnekow said.
For example, in order to film in other areas, setting up a location could take two to three days. It only took a half hour conversation to get permission to film in locations in Oakdale, Carter explained.
“It was way easier,” he said.
Possibly the most difficult part was residents wanting to participate with the actors, Carter said, laughing.
Although none have been used yet, the crew took the names and numbers of a few residents to be used as extras if necessary. In total, the 50-person cast and crew are here working for 22 shooting days, or about a month, Carter said.
Gnekow not only is providing his home for filming, but also is hosting five individuals for the duration of the filming.
The all-star cast members, or “talent” as they are called on set, include Marla Sokoloff, from “The Practice,” Amanda Righetti from “The Mentalist,” “Seventh Heaven’s” Barry Watson and Christopher Lloyd from “Back to the Future.”
The 90-minute film, which Carter said should be “funny and charming,” will be concluded around October. After the theatrical premier, which will depend on if the film is released at film festivals, the film will be released at red carpet premiers in about 100 medium-sized towns, such as Modesto.
Gnekow said he bought an RV for the premiers, which he hopes will draw movie and wine critics alike.
Oakdale residents and those in surrounding areas should be able to recognize the location in the film, which Gnekow believes will provide “a little excitement” for those who live the country life.