The remade studio and gathering space hosts an open house Friday.
Making movies in Maine means making do with what you’ve got. Friends with creepy basements, beach views, or creaky old barns become locations. Directors on one film are sound people, or camera operators, or actors on others. Shots are stolen, movies made on ingenuity and inspiration, and perhaps a little guile. A home base is a blessing — even when it’s above a neighborhood market.
“It’s cool to have something like that around. It’s a little shoestring-y but, if you’re creative, you can do something like that.” That’s Portland filmmaker Jeff Griecci, who, alongside fellow Maine artists Andrea Nilosek, Alex Coppola, and Jay Brown is holding an open house on Friday for their new joint venture, Overlook. And “something like that” is transforming the suite of high-ceiling rooms in the nondescript building at 155 Brackett St., right above Fresh Approach market in the West End, into a scene to fit any kind of Maine-made film.
The space was previously called Possible Studio, and, with previous artists-in-residence moving elsewhere (apart from Nilosek), the place is being re-christened as Overlook. Possible Studio had been used with regularity in the past few years. Several shots of Maine Director Derek Kimball’s visually stunning film “Neptune” were shot in what’s now Overlook.
“The parts where Jane (Ackerman, the movie’s lead actor) is sitting in her little shack — all those were filmed here,” Griecci said. “If you’re creative, you can shoot some pretty cool things in a place like that.”
Griecci’s most recent film, the evocative train-graffiti documentary “Year-Round Metal Enjoyment,” is making the festival rounds. In addition to maintaining Overlook as a working mini-studio, Griecci is looking forward to making it a resource for strengthening the local film scene.
“All four of us have our own objectives,” he said of his Overlook partners. “This is a workspace for individuals — a screening and studio space, plus offices. But, like with Possible Studio, there’s the idea of this being like a clubhouse. You know, if the doors are open, the filmmaking community is invited to poke their heads in. We want anyone in the scene to feel comfortable using the space, renting it out for production, putting up posters and asking questions. We want it to be a space in the circle, so to speak.”
To that end, the Overlook crew is introducing itself with an open house on First Friday, with five local deejays spinning vinyl and a meet-and-greet with the artists. The night starts at 8 p.m., and Griecci says they want to show everybody the space is still around and a great resource for local filmmakers. He wants it to be seen as “the local pub” for film people,” he said, “just a place where people hang out, stop in and say hi, organize a meeting — filmmakers in the scene saying, ‘I’ve got this short, this script, this rough cut of a feature, and I need to have someone else look at it.’ That’s what we want.”
The Overlook Facebook page was still under construction this week, but Griecci said the group planned to post details of the open house and would use the page in the future to publicize screening nights and free film showing. The physical space is getting an update, as well, with decor inspired by the Overlook Hotel from “The Shining.”
“It might look different now, and have a different name, but we’re interested in keeping that communal element,” he said.
COMING TO LOCAL SCREENS
Railroad Square, Waterville
Thursday: “Peter and John.” One screening only of this period drama from Vermont director Jay Craven, who will be in attendance. Set in 1872, two Nantucket brothers find themselves feuding over a woman and a strange inheritance. Co-starring Jacqueline Bisset.
Starting Tuesday: “The Man Who Knew Infinity.” Biopic of groundbreaking mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), who, in 1913, changed the field of mathematics forever, despite everyone at Cambridge being racist and awful. Jeremy Irons plays his mentor, and the one non-racist person at Cambridge.