VISALIA – Low-flying planes, passing trucks and a passer-by already have forced directing brothers Ian and Eshom Nelms of Woodlake to interrupt filming a scene from their independent movie "Lost on Purpose."
That's a big deal when there is no room in the schedule – or budget – for too many delays. And on "Lost on Purpose" both are big issues because it's shooting in 25 locations including the often-interrupted scene at a small dairy that is spitting distance from Highway 99 and the Visalia airport.
Multiple locations are a rarity for indies. "Lost on Purpose" is depending on the kindness of locals to provide free-filming locations and for actors to either be volunteers or willing to take pay far below their usual asking fee.
On several occasions last month, cast and crew had to stop filming in one location in Tulare County to quickly move to another because it was only available for a short time.
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"Lost on Purpose" tells the story of five renegade ranch hands who work on a San Joaquin Valley dairy farm. They must fight for their jobs, and each other, when financial strain puts the farm in jeopardy of being sold.
Cast and crew are a mix of Los Angeles imports and locals. Clovis High School graduate Aaron Hill plays D1, one of the farmhands who is trying to figure out what to do with his life. Hill has just wrapped up work on the ABC Family series "Greek," a TV show with a catering budget larger than what will be spent in total on "Lost on Purpose."
Hill, 28, says he was attracted to "Lost on Purpose" because the script, written by the directing brothers, captured the feel of his generation: Told you can do anything, but not too clear on what that should be.
The script is why Jane Kazcmarek, best known for her spirited role as the mom on "Malcolm in the Middle," agreed to be in the movie.
"I grew up in Wisconsin and I could relate to this story about what's happening to farmers," Kazcmarek says. She says that because she has three children, she's not interested in working much. But she related enough to "Lost on Purpose" to be in Visalia for 10 days of filming.
Kazcmarek and Hill, who worked together 10 years ago on "Malcolm in the Middle," are not the only recognizable actors on "Lost on Purpose." Others who were in the area to film were C. Thomas Howell, whose long list of movie credits started in 1983 with "The Outsiders;" James Lafferty, perhaps best known for his role as Nathan Scott on the CW television drama "One Tree Hill;" and Octavia Spencer (Constance Grady on the ABC series "Ugly Betty").
Michelle Lang, who doubles as the film's producer and a lead female actress, says many of the Los Angeles actors were contacted through mutual acquaintances while Fresno casting agent Carolyn DeVore supplied a large portion of the locals.
The traffic may not be cooperating, but the weather is perfect to shoot the scene at the dairy that has the buddies playing bocce ball.
A few days earlier at the same site, a dust storm nearly took out the cast and crew. But, in the spirit of independent moviemaking, the scene was shot through the dust because it created a great look.
Work won't end when the filming concludes. The Nelms will have only a few months to get the movie edited in time to show it at the film festivals where independents can get the attention of major distributors.
The hours are long and the work schedule is intense. But, Lang says, things could be a lot worse: "I worked in China making the TV series 'The Legend of Bruce Lee.' They work very fast there and we shot 50 one-hour episodes in six months. Compared to that, this is luxury."