‘Secrets of a Desert Nymph’ keeping the arts alive around the community
September 13, 2012
Nevada’s youth hit the big screen on Friday when the local film, “Secrets of the Desert Nymph,” premiered to a full house at the CVIC Hall in Minden.
Prior to the screening, the audience had the opportunity to chat with the producer, directors, actors, crew, and representatives from the Carson Valley Arts Council, while David Fristed and Vincent Anderson entertained with their guitars.
“I want to thank the Carson Valley Arts Council and all the organizations keeping arts alive in the community,” Donna Walden, the producer of the film, said.
“We’re just lucky she’s local and willing to do a project in our area,” said Brian Fitzgerald, president of the Carson Valley Arts Council.
“Secrets of the Desert Nymph” followed the lives of multiple teenagers, each who had their own dilemmas to solve, and focused on the morals of abstinence, showing how the pressure to have sex affected three different girls in three very different ways, and telling the tale of how each came to terms with her own situation and accepted it for what it was.
“I liked it, but I kind of think the morals were a little bit overbearing,” said Dominique Groffman, a student at Douglas High School, after watching the film.
The four main teens in the film were played by Talice Gadwill, Desiree Beaumont, Elle Reyes, and Matt Craugh, with supporting roles played by Tyler Cole, Joe Linscott, Judy Davis Rounds, Vincent Anderson, Lyle Mills, and Lauren Hayes-Spires.
The talented actors in the film got involved in a variety of ways.
Talice Gadwill went into it hoping to do makeup, and ended up with the starring role.
Desiree Beaumont’s story is similar, except she came in to try out for the part of Daphne.
“They told me ‘No, you’re auditioning for Alice.’ And I was mad,” Beaumont remembers.
Others, such as Elle Reyes and Matt Craugh, simply love acting and ended up doing just what they expected to.
Even though his cast was inexperienced, writer and director Bryan Caron kept his cool during filming.
“He was very calm and he wouldn’t get angry at us,” Craugh said. “Well, most of the time.”
The cast emphasized “seeing through the character’s eyes” and the differences between theater and film when discussing the challenges of the film.
The only one who seemed to have no problem fitting into his character was Tyler Cole.
“It was a pretty simple transition,” he said, after saying he and his character were a lot alike.
On the other hand, Joe Linscott, who played Maia’s dad (Talice Gadwill) in the movie, struggled to fit into his character.
“It was quite a challenge to play so much older… I don’t have kids,” he explained.
Walden first came to Bryan with the idea for this film in July 2011, and they were filming by October.
“I finished it on Sunday,” said Bryan at the beginning of the film.
One striking element of this film was the tale of the desert nymph which was made up by Bryan.
“I wanted to come up with something that tied all the characters together,” Bryan said.
He ended up with an inventive tale about a nymph who valued her chastity because she saw it as the symbol of her immortality. She valued her innocence greatly enough to sacrifice her freedom, and ended up buried beneath the desert.
The desert nymph’s story was animated in the film.
Walden chose Bryan for this project because she had worked with him before on a film titled “My Necklace, Myself.”
“(My Necklace, Myself) got a lot of awards,” she said.
Bryan lives in Temecula, Calif., and had never been to this region of Nevada before writing the script. He did, however, write the script for this area.
“I told him we have ranches, and we have deserts,” Walden said.
Although it would seem that writing about something he knew so little about would be a challenge, Bryan didn’t seem to see it that way.
“You know general locations. I had images in my head of how I thought things looked like,” he said.
Once he came here, he found places that were similar and let the differences go.
How did this project first come into Walden’s mind?
“I want to see the community do more films together,” she said.
As a local, she wanted to make a film that took place at home.
Walden set up the process as a community film workshop, having young people in the community do the camera work, the makeup, the hair, the set, and everything in between.
“It’s just a good overall art project,” Walden said, “I think it gave (the students) confidence to know they could do something as complicated as making a film.”
“I think it’s a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone involved,” agreed Steve Farnsley, executive director of the Carson Valley Arts Council.
The tech crew started out as an extension of Brett Caron’s classroom at Whittell High School, and slowly opened up to the community, from “Washoe to Markleeville.”
Brett, who was the technical director of the film, calls this program “HOT,” or “Hands On Tech.”
“Our dream is to put together a nonprofit that pulls experts from this area and brings those experts to the community,” he said, reiterating what Donna had already brought up: The possibility of future films like Desert Nymph.
The idea of future films also entranced the audience, as members asked when the sequel would come out in the question-and-answer session after the show.
“That’s confidential,” Beaumont, who played Alice, answered jokingly.
Although there may not be a sequel to “The Secret of the Desert Nymph,” Donna says this isn’t the end of community films in Northern Nevada. She plans on doing more, also as workshops to educate young people about the arts.
The film was supported by the Carson Valley Arts Council, Northern Nevada Filmworks, and Northern Nevada Film Factory, a nonprofit that makes films, in collaboration with DaVinci Design and Divine Trinity Productions.
Popcorn, cookies donated by Russell’s Mercantile, and punch and ice tea donated by McDonald’s were available as complimentary refreshments. There were photos from the cast’s time filming displayed near the entrance.
“(Donna) and I have been talking about working collaboratively for some time,” Fitzgerald said, “I thought is would be the perfect project for CVAC.”