The Napa Valley has been the backdrop for many Hollywood movies and, just this summer, Netflix released “Wine Country,” featuring Amy Poehler and her costars visiting many spots known to locals and tourists.
This movie isn’t that.
This movie is the first production by the Filmmakers of Napa Valley, a group that came together thanks to Keely Dervin. Dervin, a local actress and filmmaker, had a hunch that there were others like her – that is, people with a passion for filmmaking – in the Napa Valley.
She followed that hunch and, nine months ago, created a Meet-Up group. In June, that little group, now at 50 members, made a movie called “Never Too Old.”
Dervin, who wrote the script along with Bay Area director Ally May, stars in the film as a mother whose daughter just went off to college, leaving her unsure of what’s next. With some encouragement from two girlfriends, she musters up enough energy to put on a dress and go dancing, where maybe she will figure out how to begin again.
Dervin, age 49 and not quite an empty-nester herself yet, said that she wanted to tell this story because, in the United States, she said, “women of a certain age” are often written off. Dervin said that she wanted to show people that a woman’s life isn’t over just because her children go away.
“When people leave the theater … hopefully they’ll say: ‘Let’s go dancing’ or ‘Let’s go live life,’” Dervin said.
Her other goal was to get her newly formed group excited about and engaged in producing a film. And, hopefully, she added, to have it show in the Napa Valley Film Festival.
Amy Brown, programming manager at the Napa Valley Film Festival, said that the festival loves seeing submissions from local filmmakers and welcomes them to attend the festival. Whether or not “Never Too Old” will make it, she said, will be decided in the coming weeks.
The whole film was shot on June 9. If you happened to notice that Napkins Bar and Grill closed earlier than usual that day, it’s because they were filming inside.
“Ali (Yildirim) closed dinner a little bit early and we shot there until almost 1:30 in the morning,” Dervin said. Yildirim, Napkins’ owner, also makes an appearance in the film.
“It was a very, very long day,” she said, noting that the film’s production was actually supposed to be at a much lower scale. “What happened was that people liked the movie,” and, she said, professionals started volunteering their services and equipment. The “small production” turned into a real set with what Dervin called a “ridiculous amount of lights” and a 16-member crew.
Jorge Garibay was one of those 16 volunteers.
“That was my first hands-on (experience),” Garibay said. Despite his lack of production experience, Garibay was able to help with equipment and lighting.
“They’re not kidding you when they tell you they’re 12-, 14-, 18-hour days,” he said. Still, he said, he did it with a smile.
“I’m planning to learn from them (the group members) and hopefully they help me to make my movies,” Garibay said.
That sort of trade is exactly what Dervin sees for Filmmakers of Napa Valley.
“It’s the idea of just creating a community where we support each other in filmmaking,” Dervin said. “Its not unusual for no one to get paid to work on each other’s films.”
Making a movie doesn’t have to be done the “old-fashioned way” or even in Los Angeles, she said. “We have the talent in Napa.”