Fairlawn mansion sets stage for indie film
Time after time, actor Wade Thalberg set down a photo, reached for his hat and walked out the door. The scene played out over and over in the office at Fairlawn Mansion on Wednesday, Jan. 23, as Tristan James Jensen captured it on video from various angles with different lenses.
The 1890s-era Victorian mansion is serving as the backdrop for scenes from "Scarlet Rose," a mystery horror indie film by Alexandria Marty set in the early 1900s. The Twin Cities-based filmmaker said about a third of the story takes place at the mansion.
This is the second visit to Fairlawn for Marty and her crew. They also shot scenes at the Superior mansion in February 2018.
"It's been a blast. Everyone's so nice and it's just such a beautiful place," Marty said. "We love it."
The house's high ceilings and large windows lend themselves well to natural lighting, said Jensen, the director of photography.
"We tend to use what we have on the sets, like the old style lights, light coming in," he said, without resorting to lighting tricks.
In the film, Fairlawn becomes Dr. Barclay's clinic. It's the site where the doctor, who likes to experiment with new fields of study, helps a troubled woman unlock secrets from her past.
Fairlawn isn't the only Superior star in the film. Earlier Wednesday, a jail cell at the Old Firehouse and Police Museum was used for a scene in which Thalberg, as Detective Inspector Reid, locks up a criminal.
Inspired by murder mysteries like "Ripper Street," "Murdoch Mysteries" and "Sherlock Holmes," Marty's story has grown from an eight-page short to more than 100 pages of twists and turns.
"I had a blast with the material," said actor C.J. DeVaan, who plays Dr. Barclay. "There's a lot of ups and downs and frights."
The film crew of 10 planned a five-day shoot, which should wrap up Sunday, Jan. 27. Superior Public Museums Director Megan Meyer said their schedule includes some full and some half day sessions in order to work around this weekend's Lake Superior Ice Festival.
"It's a fun, different activity to have here, to kind of open up Fairlawn to other ventures," Meyer said of the filming. "And it's a good time to have it, during our down season. Bring some activity to the mansion."
As far as she knows, the mansion has never been used for an indie film, although it was featured in the Lumber Barons episode of the A&E "America's Castles" documentary series. Fairlawn was one of three homes highlighted in the 1998 episode.
The premiere of "Scarlet Rose" could come as early as this fall. Marty, whose production company is 11/12 Films LLC, hopes to screen it at the Twin Cities Film Fest.
For now, fans can get a glimpse of Fairlawn's staircase, halls and woodwork behind the actors in a teaser trailer online at www.scarletrose2019.com, and the Facebook page Scarlet Rose 2019.