Local filmmaker pours coronary heart into ‘Rite of the Shaman’

Local filmmaker Alicia Oberle Farmer’s characteristic “Rite of the Shaman,” which was partially shot in Park City, was impressed by her son, Tyrell Oberle, who performs the lead function of Kai.
Courtesy of Zepstone Media

Salt Lake City-based filmmaker Alicia Oberle Farmer remembers how emotional it was filming the ultimate scene of her upcoming characteristic, “Rite of the Shaman,” at an workplace of Point Productions in Park City a couple of weeks in the past.

“The last scene is between the film’s bully and a high school counselor, and it was such a memorable moment for people on set, because you’re getting a perspective from the bully’s side of why he lashes out,” Farmer mentioned.

While that scene pulled on the heartstrings, it’s protected to say the entire movie, which is scheduled for theatrical launch on May 27, is an emotional and private challenge for Farmer.

The story was impressed by Farmer’s 22-year-old son, Tyrell Oberle, who fought a two-year battle with most cancers when he was in his teenagers.

“He’s very much a shaman,” Farmer mentioned. “He’s into nature. He loves animals. He’s very kind. He practices healing and is hiking all the time, and when he was battling cancer, those things were how he overcame the whole experience.”

As Farmer started piecing collectively a narrative, she additionally took inspiration from a kids’s e-book referred to as “The Shaman” that she began writing a couple of years in the past.

“I started working on my PhD, and didn’t have time to finish the book, but I had this vision of a short film that I could make about a shaman boy,” she mentioned. “So I combined that with who my son is.”

Farmer calls her son a hero.

“He was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma when he was 15 1/2 , and they started him on chemo that ended when he was 17,” she mentioned. “And while he has been in remission for five years, it’s still terrifying for us when he has to go back to do scans. He’s a wonderful person inside and out.”

As the story began taking form, Farmer talked about it to a pal, Janice Spencer-Wise, who’s a highschool trainer.

“She said she would love to help me flesh out the story,” Farmer mentioned. “The high school perspective in the film comes from Janice, one of the writers of the script, and it delves into what it is like to be a teenager in high school and the struggles they go through.”

Throughout the writing and filmmaking, Farmer needed to tackle the subject of most cancers and the way it impacts households, however she didn’t wish to exploit her son.

“So instead of the boy having cancer in the story, we decided that it would be the mother who does,” Farmer mentioned together with her voice filled with emotion. “My reasoning is because I wish I could have taken it from him. I wish it had been me who had it and not him.”

Once the primary screenplay was completed, Farmer requested her son if he want to tackle the function as Kai, the movie’s title character.

“He’s never acted a day in his life, and got shy and nervous,” she mentioned. “I told him if he wasn’t comfortable with that, I still wanted him to be part of the casting process so we can find the right person. But he came back to me a few days later and said he would do it.”

Throughout the filming, Farmer tried to be delicate about her son’s emotions, and let him do what felt proper.

“He was a natural, because he would use the memories of his experience,” she mentioned.

The first model of “Rite of the Shaman” was a 60-minute characteristic and received finest image, finest cinematography, finest modifying, finest music rating and finest supporting actress on the 2022 Utah Film Festival in January.

The movie’s reception stunned Farmer, whose pal instructed her to increase it for a potential theatrical launch. So they expanded the script to raised describe the characters and story arcs.

“The first version of the film was 60 minutes long, and we decided to expand it by 15 minutes or so,” she mentioned. “The second half the characters needed some fleshing out. We really wanted to make it as perfect as it could possibly be and get closure with some of the other characters.”

One of the closures is with the movie’s bully, portrayed by Ethan Bracken, and the highschool counselor, performed by Nicholas Perez, who’s also referred to as X96 radio’s Sgt. Perez, within the scene that was filmed at Point Productions, Farmer mentioned.

“I loved the scene, because it gets at the root cause of why the bully is who he is, and that he is making a step forward to change,” she mentioned.

Park City-based writer and actress Trish Walker launched Farmer to Point Productions, and General Manager Ben Pieper, who turned one of many government administrators of “Rite of the Shaman.”.

Walker, a producer of “Rite of the Shaman,” was an additional on Farmer’s first characteristic movie, “City of Salt,” which was launched in 2020, and Farmer, founding father of Zepstone Media, a manufacturing firm, has labored with Walker on a Disney challenge.

“I have what I call a Zepstone Army that is made up of everyone who has worked on our films and who have supported us, so we’re like a huge family,” Farmer mentioned. “Trish was helping me come up with a gala and crowdfunding. We hit it off, and she told Ben, and he wanted to get involved. They are not only huge assets for the film, but also for our futures.”

As Farmer prepares for the May 27 launch, she and her crew are at present in the midst of an Indiegogo crowdsourcing marketing campaign to lift cash for commercial and promotion for “Rite of the Shaman.”

“We’re currently about $20,000 short of the goal, so we’re ⅓ there,” she mentioned. “We weren’t planning on a marketing or P.R. budget for this personal project, so we’re building the plane while we’re flying. The campaign is raising funds for us to get the film into as many theaters as possible — not just in Utah, but potentially looking at regional release.”

Farmer hopes as many individuals as potential will have the ability to see the movie.

“Every part of it came from the heart of everybody on the team, because it was an important and inspiring story,” she mentioned. “My son is a hero. This film is on a hero’s journey, and the people who have helped us are heroes who are making this miracle happen.”

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