Lights, camera – action
Although Vail is no stranger to movie stars and famous people visiting our valley, it’s not often we can say one of our own has taken off to find the foot lights. And, although it may be premature to say he’s hit the big time, it would be a shame to underestimate the ambitions of local 17-year-old Anthony Scully, who has stars in his eyes and mountains of motivation. One of these days we just may be able to say, “We knew him when …” After all, Steven Spielberg got his start in a similar way.Any one who knows Scully knows that from an early age he’s had a flair for music and entertainment, coupled with an entrepreneurial mind. At the ripe old age of 10, Scully started his first business as a disc jockey. He began with two boom boxes, mixing music between the two machines. A year later, in the fifth grade and with a loan from his grandmother, he bought his first set of turn tables and speakers and started working as a DJ at parties for his friends, which eventually evolved into working parties for friends of his parents. Word traveled fast and soon young Anthony was working most weekend nights and even turning business away. With the money he made he bought more equipment, growing his business and honing his skills. “I’ll still do a few gigs now and then to make some extra cash, but I’d much rather be filming,” Scully says.
And this is exactly how the high school senior sees his future – producing and directing feature films in Hollywood.There’s no mystery as to why Scully got interested in the entertainment business. He’s the son of Mark and Anna Scully. Anna Scully is renowned in the valley for her involvement and tireless contributions to local theater. She has run a children’s summer theater program in Edwards for many years, culminating in big productions every August. She has her own theater troupe that travels around the state regularly. Mark’s side of the family possesses talent as well. His uncle was William Castle, who is best known for producing “Rosemary’s Baby.” This is where Anthony says he came up with the name Tony Castle Productions for his filming company.While answering questions for this news story, it’s obvious that Anthony’s creative juices are flowing. While fielding questions and phone calls throughout this interview, he’s anxiously bouncing around in his seat, casting glances over his shoulder as his crew works behind him setting up lights and sound apparatus. Scully certainly looks the part of a movie director – with his frizzy dark hair poking out from under a hot pink ball cap with ENRON emblazoned in bold green letters above the bill and his washed-out jeans sagging off his hips, his arms and hands move in the air nonstop as he talks. Anthony can barely sit still to answer questions about his latest project, “Pickles and Onions,” a film he and partner Ben Garst filmed last week in Avon.Scully’s business partner and good friend Garst, a 2002 Battle Mountain High School graduate, sits calmly and explains that the movie they are filming is sort of an “evolved” modern-day western set in a burger joint called the Mad Cow Burger Saloon. “The movie’s part Western and part comedy, with a hillbilly angle and some shoot-em-up stuff,” says Garst. And although they have a blood machine to make the shootings look authentic, they two insist the movie is really more comedy than violent.
Scully and Garst met a few years ago snowboarding on Vail Mountain, but recognized each other from PAWS, a creative video class offered at Battle Mountain High School. It didn’t take long for them to learn they both shared many of the same interests. They started brainstorming ideas for movies and how to market their creations. Since then, the two have made three movies, created several productions for Battle Mountain High School, and they have a regular television program that airs on Channel 5.Scully and Garst believe their compatibility stems from each bringing his own talents to the craft. Scully’s the detail man specializing in editing the film. He takes and makes sure the angles and lighting are set up just right during the shooting. Garst writes and edits a lot of the script and is in charge of cinematography. “This is the fourth film we’ve made together, and we learn so much each time.” says Scully. “We used to duplicate efforts a lot, now we have more defined positions in our productions and we work a lot more efficiently.” Garst agrees. After graduating from Battle Mountain High School, Garst spent a semester at Montana State University where he studied filmmaking and worked as an intern for PBS. However, he says, he’s learned more from the hands-on experiences he gets from making films with Scully. “I know I have a lot more to learn about filmmaking, but there’s nothing like actually making a movie,” says Garst. He said he felt confined in college when professors would tell him how a scene should play out rather than letting it happen the way he saw it in his own mind’s eye. “I definitely plan to go back to school, but I’ll study business or law – subjects that will help Scully and me with our productions down the road.”The two have made some headway with their films. They took the movie they made last year to the Sun Dance Film Festival in Utah and had some success, catching the eye of a producer of the “Sopranos,” who said he was impressed with their editing skills. And, a scene from the same film made it into Sydney Pollack’s camp, though Scully and Garst haven’t heard anything from him yet.
The two also have a strong contact in New York with former Vail resident and film editor Jonathon Bricklin, who gives them instruction and serves as a mentor. He’s also taught them about marketing their films. When asked where they see themselves in five years, they both agree they’ll be in New York or LA, making feature length films with the help of Bricklin.For the time being, Scully and Garst are content to keep perfecting their movies and presenting them at film festivals. They plan to submit “Pickles and Onions” to the Manhattan Short Film Festival this fall. If they were to win at that festival, they would be awarded a feature length film package complete with any and all equipment and funding necessary to make their “dream” film.”Funding is our biggest hurdle.” says Scully. We’re operating on a total shoestring, relying on donations and volunteers as much as possible.” They’ve apparently proven they have something to Mike DeMatteo, a reality television technical professional from “The Apprentice” who flew out last week and is volunteering his time to help the guys with their production. Many of the guy’s friends think enough of Scully and Garst to volunteer their time as well. When filming last Saturday a large number of high school kids showed up at the set to help in any way they could.What happens when the filming wraps up? Scully will start his senior year of high school, and he and Garst will continue their work at Channel 5, producing their program called “Locals on the Slopes,” along with a few other program ideas they have. The guys say the station gives them quite a bit of creative license, and they plan to add to their programming next winter. And of course, they’ll keep thinking of more movie ideas and how to market themselvesIn the mean time, keep your eyes open for the release of “Pickles and Onions.” It could be coming soon to a theater near you.
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It’s fitting that Eagle County is proceeding through its reopening phases of COVID-19 in an analogy to ski run difficulties — green to blue to black. Monday marks the transition from the green beginner phase to the blue intermediate phase.