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MANCHESTER — It seems like ancient history now: A director, actors and a film crew, working here as part of an effort to build support for Vermont investing in the film and television industry, made Manchester their home for several weeks in the summer of 2018, creating an independent feature film.

The film they made, “Stormchaser,” is finally coming to screens – giving locals a chance to see a few area landmarks, homes and highways, and a cameo by Fiona and Roisin, ewes owned by former Manchester Selectboard Vice-Chairman Wayne Bell.

“After a long, successful festival run, award-winning Stormchaser will launch on Apple TV, plus a few other streamers this spring,” writer, director and executive producer Gretl Claggett posted on her Facebook page. “Thank you to my wonderful production team and crew, and my amazing, multitalented cast! Stay tuned for more details.”

The Journal wrote about the filming in July of 2018, when what was then known as the Independent Television Festival (ITVFest) spurred an effort to have the filming done here.

Claggett and producer Pamela Cederquist had established a connection with Vermont Production Council through ITVFest executive director Philip Gilpin Jr., and decided on the Green Mountain State rather than upstate New York.

Gilpin and supporters of the festival helped secure locations and funding. A building in the Taconic Industrial Park served as the business where the main character worked selling storm doors, roofing and siding to people whose homes had been damaged by violent storms.

Bell’s house on Highland Avenue (better known as Seamus O’Dowden’s Public House) was used for a home sales call scene. And a stretch of Route 30 north of Dorset provided the backdrop for a driving scene the cinematographer called “one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen.”

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All found their way into promotional materials for the film, including its posters and trailer.

“I’m excited to see it,” Bell said. “We’ll able to punch it up and watch it when we want.”

Bell recalls how much effort went into making the film, and how hard the actors and crew worked at their craft. “It helped me understand how [film] budgets grow when I saw the number of people and amount of equipment involved making a film like this,” he said.

The efforts to build a film and TV industry connection to the Green Mountain State faded when ITVFest and advocates for television and film tax credits were unable to gain traction in Montpelier. The festival relocated to Duluth, Minnesota, rebranding itself as Catalyst Story Institute, and has expanded its offerings of courses and seminars. One of its honorees, Ashley Nicole Black, won an Emmy last year.

Gilpin remembers the circumstances that led the film to the Northshire, and is proud that an effort connected with his organization will be seen by viewers across the country.

“It’s an exciting example of how storytellers can live and work anywhere in the digital age,” he said. “We’re proud of the work we did in Vermont that resulted in local people being hired and a production obtaining national distribution.”

For a time in the 1980s, Vermont was a popular destination for filmmakers. “Baby Boom” was filmed in Manchester, Sunderland, Weston and Peru. Bell said he still enjoys seeing that film, as a number of his friends played extras. Likewise, “Funny Farm” was shot in Townshend and Grafton, and “Beetlejuice,” starring future Arlington resident Alec Baldwin, was shot in East Corinth.

Reach Greg Sukiennik at or at 802-447-7567, ext. 119.


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