By LIBBY CUDMORE
It was a big night for Lori Kelly.
She premiered her film “Mineville” at the Oneonta Theater to a packed house and thunderous applause Saturday, May 14.
After 10 years in writing, development, broken promises and production, the film that honored her family legacy was finally on screen.
Kelly was born in Mineville, Essex County, to a family of miners with a long history in the Iron Ore mines. Her father, Michael, working up until the iron mines there closed in the early 1960s.
The film Mineville is a composite of first-person sources and “my father’s tall tales,” many revolving around pranks he and his brother Ritchie pulled, including stealing coal from the mines and dresses off clotheslines, both of which were featured in the film.
Kelly and actors Paul Sorvino, Cuyle Carvin, Michael Sorvino, Chris Backus, William Depaolo and Richard Waddingham were all on hand for the premiere, red carpet and all.
The theater was packed – a record crowd for a film screening in the Oneonta Theater, some said – and the Horseshoe Lounge Playboys set the tone with a five-song set. Patrick Lippincott warmed up the crowd with a few jokes at Mr. Sorvino’s well-humored expense and then the film began.
Shot in polished, evocative black and white, the film covered all the bases – love, loyalty, corruption, justice and injustice.
The local angle really brought out the crowd’s enthusiasm, and the names of miners and mining families scrolled over the credits.
“Events like this are what it’s all about,” Mayor Dick Miller boasted. “It’s a wonderful affirmation of our town.”
Kelly isn’t new to the camera. She directed the short film “Heartache” and the feature-length film “Silent But Deadly,” starring Jason Mewes, William Sadler and Jordan Prentice. She is also co-directing “The Cure,” a docu-drama about heroin use in small towns, with her son, Joel Plue.
She conceived of “Mineville”10 years ago and made a short, trailer-length version to show to investors. The script sat on various production companies’ shelves for four years. It was then she decided to head home and make the movie herself.
“I’d rather work on a dime with local people because what you see is what you get,” she explained. “These are people who came out on their own – with a car, a prop, a story – it was about their community.”
Kelly cast William Sadler again and brought in the Sorvinos, who she’d known from the first conceptions of the film.
Rex Baker, who contributed to the soundtrack along with the Horseshoe Lounge Playboys, offered the use of the mine he owned.
The Mineville town supervisor even allowed them to cut the locks on the Barton Hill Mining Yard, just as long as they closed everything up when they were finished.
She also realized that the advice she’d been given years before was what held the most true – “In filmmaking, there are no rules,” she said. “And boy, did I find out the hard way.”
But the finished result was well worth it. She admits that there are still a few things that need to be cleaned up, including some scenes not seen at Saturday’s premiere. But she realized that, 10 years and plenty of rough road later, that she’d made her dream come true.
“For over ten years, I felt like I was on this road alone,” Kelly lamented. “But there was that moment, when I turned around and saw that crowd, all those people who had helped and supported and turned out for this movie, I knew … I was never alone.”
Kelly informed the audience that this is only the film’s first stop: It is destined for the Lake Placid Film Festival in June and the Ballston Spa Film Festival in August.