A Rhode Island-made independent film is a selection in an upcoming film festival, one of the largest in the world. Newport Castle, a feature length film from Providence Lyceum filmmakers, will premiere in late May at the Hoboken International Film Festival in Greenwood Lake, New York.
The fictional story of “Newport Castle” was inspired in part by the autobiographical book The Ghosts of Belcourt Castle by renown Newport socialite Harle H. Tinney.
Native Rhode Islander husband and wife Michael and Karen Iacobbo created Providence Lyceum in 2011, “to make films that showcase the beauty, history, architecture – as well as talented people – of the smallest state,” says Karen Iacobbo – director, writer, and producer of Newport Castle . She says: “The film is a romance, a drama, with a tinge of the Gothic.”
Without spoiling suprises of the film, Karen says scenes for Newport Castle were shot at Cliff Walk, at three mansions, at two parks, and at a restaurant, and cafe. (see ProvidenceLyceum.com and @ProvidenceLyc and https://www.facebook.com/providence.lyceum/for details.)
The Iacobbo’s previous film, House of Shadows, was shown on Rhode Island PBS and was influenced by the TV series Dark Shadows. In addition to filmmaking, Karen is a published short story writer, and teaches film, writing, and reading at local colleges. Michael, who manages the film and video business and is the editor, was an Associated Press reporter. “What better place than Rhode Island for a tale of romance? The state has the locations, and the cast and crew talent.”
1) Screening of Providence Lyceum’s film Newport Castle with a talk by Mrs. Harle Tinney ( former owner of Belcourt Castle and who is the inspiration for the fictional film).
2) Halloween Party
Both hosted by Dark Shadows group, October 2018, at the Carey Mansion/ Seaview Terrace, Newport, RI
The mansion used as the exterior shot of Collinwood in the 1966-71 Dark Shadows TV Series
Newport Artillery Museum Fundraiser Preview of Newport Castle movie
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2018
A Mid-Twentieth Century Tale of the Soul
Providence Lyceum announces Newport Castle, an hour long film, which is a romance set in 1964 and fictionalized from the courtship of Donald and Harle Tinney, the former owners and hosts of Belcourt Castle, a Nineteenth century mansion and museum on Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island.
The film was made in collaboration with Mrs. Tinney, who was also a producer and allowed Karen to write a story and screenplay loosely based on when Mrs. Tinney first met her husband (who passed away more than a decade ago). Newport Castle was produced and directed by Karen Iacobbo; Michael Iacobbo was the First Assistant Director as well as principle editor.
Newport Castle stars Kristina Horan as “Carrie.” Ms. Horan is an accomplished actor, model, host, and singer. She is familiar to patrons of the Newport Playhouse, where she was an actor-singer, and she holds a BFA in musical theater from Manhattanville College. “Cade” is played by Kevin Cahill. Mr. Cahill has acted in independent and Hollywood productions, and plays a major role in Providence Lyceum’s House of Shadows (2015), which was broadcast on PBS in Rhode Island and screened at the Fiftieeth Anniversary Celebration of the Dark Shadows TV series.
Supporting roles in Newport Castle are played by Kayla Caulfield, Connor Holden, Katrina Rossi, Nathan Suher, Alda Kaye, and Tim Scott.
Other local area actors in the film: Linda Colvin, Suzanne McCormick, Karen Ann Martino, Keith Johnson, Sissy O’Hara, Susan Laks-Olsen, Nadja Santos, Giselle Rodrigues, Africia Ben, Christopher Silva, Robert S. Edenbach, Ron Young, Steven Lupo, Diane Lupo, Anne Cuvelier, Sara Roy, Carrie Decker, Vladen Vronsky, David Lacreda, Paul Schmidt, Christine Schmidt, Nyuanru Ben, David Joaquin, and Harle Tinney.
Music for Newport Castle was composed and performed by Boenel Productions, and a hymn was performed by organist Peter Berton with Zabriskie Memorial Church of Saint John the Evangelist of Newport choir.
Cinematography for Newport Castle is by Joshua Csehak. Additional photography was provided by Ken Willinger, Nathan Suher, John Mahoney, and Karen Iacobbo.
Graphic Design: Eric Benson
Newport Castle was filmed at Newport’s Cliff Walk, Midcliff mansion, Sanford-Covell Villa Marina, and Newport Artillery Company Armory, as well as at Purgatory Chasm in Middletown, Governor William Sprague Mansion in Cranston, Ciro’s Restaurant in Woonsocket, North Burial Ground, Roger Williams Park, and Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House in Providence.
October 26, 2016
Zombies? Werewolves? Vampires? Got ‘em! On Halloween weekend (October 29th) Dark Shadows cast members will reunite at the 50th Anniversary Hollywood with the Stars at Hollywood Women’s Club in California. Dark Shadows, the Gothic soap opera TV series, aired weekdays 1966-71, on ABC. In June, the cast celebrated at Tarrytown, New York. The series inspired husband-and-wife filmmakers Michael and Karen Iacobbo of Providence Lyceum in Rhode Island to create House of Shadows, a 52 minute Gothic romance film with an original story and characters, which screened at the New York Dark Shadows reunion celebration. House of Shadows will air on PBS in Rhode Island in November, and later be offered online.
Karen Iacobbo says of the influential TV series: “Dark Shadows wasn’t camp, wasn’t
played for laughs; instead, the stories were in part derived from great books, great
authors. The actors created much-loved heroes, much-despised villains. The series was
about the ancient theme of good versus evil; good isn’t always rewarded, but eventually
evil gets its comeuppance.”
Karen Iacobbo, the writer of House of Shadows as well as of a Gothic short story
published in Newport Life magazine, says the film is about a 19th century force awakened when a Victorian mansion is slated for destruction. The film stars Joe Michael Phillips and Jami Tennille, along with Suzanne McCormick, Olivia Sage Pentell, and Kevin Cahill. Like the TV series, the film delves into good and evil; the villain is a corrupt elected official Gerard Hawthorn, played by Cahill. The indy film made on an ultra low $5000. budget was shot at mansions in Rhode Island, including at seaside Newport (the same city of the Dark Shadows ‘Collinwood’ estate, aka Carey mansion). Veteran film director-writer Hal Hamilton, whose work includes projects for the BBC and ITV, says of the Iacobbos’ House of Shadows: “The film is well-made, handsomely dressed, authentic in period detail and well-acted. Several exteriors hit the bell – New England is haunted.” From the PBS Rhode Island blog bird on the wire: “a beautifully filmed and fun film.” The Iacobbos’ current film project, also a Gothic set in Newport, is based on the real life of a couple who lived in a haunted mansion. The Dark Shadows TV series spawned two mini-series and three feature films. Fans from three generations get their fix of the original series on cable, and the Internet, where the series is headed for eternity — after all, Dark Shadows centers on the tormented vampire Barnabas Collins.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2016
House of Shadows
The past seeps like blood into the present
Providence Lyceum is pleased to announce their Gothic romance film ‘House of Shadows’ will screen at the 50th Anniversary Dark Shadows Festival in Tarrytown, New York, where the cast of the popular TV show will reunite. Michael and Karen Iacobbo of Providence Lyceum, created their film “as a treat for fans of Dark Shadows.”
Dark Shadows, that famous daily afternoon Gothic soap opera TV series, was broadcast 1966 – 1971 and today has legions of loyal fans across the generations. The show was populated by well-known characters such as Barnabas Collins, Angelique, Dr. Julia Hoffman, Victoria Winters, Josette DuPres, Christopher Jennings, Willy Loomis, Maggie Evans, Elizabeth Stoddard-Collins, Carolyn Collins, Quentin Collins, Roger Collins, David Collins and many others. The series evolved into feature films Night of Dark Shadows and House of Dark Shadows, and was revived in mini-series form, and later parody-type feature film Dark Shadows.
Michael and Karen Iacobbo were inspired by the series to create their film, House of Shadows, an original story with original characters. House of Shadows, a 52-minute feature, was filmed in Newport, Providence, and elsewhere in Rhode Island.
House of Shadows stars Joe Michael Phillips, and Jami Tennille as the Victorian couple Nathaniel Silverfield and Victoria Noble; Suzanne McCormick narrates and is Buffy Silverfield, Olivia Sage Pentell is young heiress Annabel Lee Silverfield, B. Hayes is Patience Silverfield, Kevin Cahill is Gerard Hawthorn, and Lawrence O’Leary is Jeffrey Silverfield, Linda Colvin is Aunt Lacey Silverfield, and mother-an-son actors Peggy Passerelli is Dr. Hannah Villager-Vela and Josh Passarelli is Toby, and couple George and Linda Alford are Haleville Town Worker Chief and Worker, and Michael Anastatsio is Butler.
Original music for the film is from Roger and Ellen Bruno, and cinematography is by Josh Csehak.
Filmmakers Michael and Karen Iacobbo are locals who love Rhode Island and brought products and services from the area into their film such as: Alex and Ani bracelets, wardrobe from Trinity Square , and Philip Sawyer Designs, and paintings from Betsey MacDonald, and hair and makeup are by students and staff of the Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy of Cranston, R.I.
House of Shadows was filmed at historic sites Malbone Estate, Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum, Governor William Sprague Mansion, the Museum of Work & Culture, Roger Williams Park, and at the Newport and Jamestown, Rhode Island sea coast.
House of Shadows was directed by Michael Iacobbo, assistant directed and produced by Karen Iacobbo, who wrote the story.
CCRI graduate, professor team up to produce films
CCRI adjunct professor Karen Iacobbo directs actor Joe Michael Phillips.
Michael Iacobbo and his wife Karen, a CCRI adjunct professor, have been preparing for this moment for months, and it is over in seconds.
The two are co-producers of the film “House of Shadows” written by Karen and filmed in Rhode Island using local actors.
After carefully scripting and storyboarding this scene, lighting the set inside the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum in Providence, and testing how it will appear on camera, they are ready to begin shooting for the day.
A hush falls over the set when Michael Iacobbo, serving as director, shouts the iconic command: “Action!”
The camera rolls for only a few seconds, capturing lead actor Joe Michael Phillips staring through a window in 19th century garb.
In person on the set, the scene does not seem like much, but when edited into the rest of the film it will portray Phillips as an apparition, leering out of the past to haunt his descendants.
This is the beginning of a 12-hour day of shooting.
“Filmmaking is a lot of work,” Karen Iacobbo said, “but it’s thrilling. I cannot describe what it’s like to have actors bring your words to life.”
“House of Shadows” is the Iacobbo’s second film together. Their first, a 22-minute short film “The Unproductive,” was shown at Providence’s SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival on April 15. The film is available on the Iacobbos’ Web site, www.providencelyceum.com.
The Iacobbos’ turn as independent filmmakers came when Karen, an adjunct writing professor at CCRI and a published author of short fiction, wrote a screenplay about two adult cousins on opposite sides of a euthanasia debate concerning a hospital patient.
Rather than take the usual approach of sending the script to directors and producers and trying to spark their interest, the Iacobbo’s founded their own film company, Providence Lyceum, and shot “The Unproductive” themselves in the winter of 2010-11.
To get the project going, they began making connections within Southern New England’s independent film community.
“When you do a film you have to gather up all the resources you can,” Michael Iacobbo said, “and we networked and met different people just to see what was out there. We had the vision, we had the writing, but we needed the people to make it happen.”
The Iacobbos worked with the Rhode Island Film Collaborative and local film production company The 989 Project.
“We did a lot of homework and brought on the right people to make up for our lack of experience,” Michael Iacobbo said. “The better they do, the better you look.”
Before production could begin, the Iacobbos also gave themselves a crash course in the technical and artistic side of filmmaking. They read every book they could find and watched documentaries about the process. They also studied the works of directors John Carpenter and Franco Zeffirelli and writer/producer Rod Serling.
Serling is most famous for his work on the 1960s television series “The Twilight Zone,” which is a great influence for the Iacobbos. The 22-minute length of “The Unproductive” is the same as a typical episode of “The Twilight Zone.”
Despite this preparation, Karen said the prospect of getting behind a camera for the first time was intimidating.
She remembers thinking at the time, “I have absolutely zero background in filmmaking and now I’m going to direct a film.”
Michael added, “It was learning on the job, but we do have a lot of life experience, and like anything else, a lot of it cuts across different occupations and fields.”
Though Michael and Karen had not made a film before, they both had experience as writers – he as a reporter for the Associated Press and Karen as a published author of short fiction.
“I had no journalism background but I just figured I would do it,” he said.
“We came into [the film business] as writers,” Karen said. “I’m a storyteller who has a great deal to say … I want what I have to say to the world to reach the largest audience, and film is the way to do that.”
Even as they prepare for the film festival, the Iacobbos are hard at work on their second film, “House of Shadows.”
Karen describes this film as “a gothic romance,” an homage to the 1960s horror soap opera “Dark Shadows.”
“House of Shadows” will be longer than their first film, at about one hour, and is more technically complex. It takes place both in the modern day and in the late 19th century, and the costumes this requires are stretching the resources of the Iacobbo’s tiny independent film company.
Work on “House of Shadows” began not long after production of the first film was complete, and continued even as the couple prepared for the SENE Film Festival.
One of the film’s stars is Lawrence O’Leary, a CCRI student and local actor who is working on his own documentary film about CCRI’s Knight Campus.
It also features actress Beverly Hayes, who was a guest star on the original run of “Dark Shadows.”
“There are a lot of things that people who are fans of the old TV show will recognize,” Karen said.
The filmmakers themselves are of course great fans of the show. Michael said he remembers rushing home after school to watch it everyday, and that he and Karen would often reminisce about the program.
The Iacobbos had a budget of less than $100,000 for each of their movies, and even though the Hollywood parlance for this is “no budget,” they are still expensive for a married couple working on their own and there is still plenty of work to be done.
“Filmmaking is a very stressful business, there’s a lot of rushing,” Karen said, “but we’re crazy about it. It’s an art form we take very seriously.” The greatest reward is “seeing my screenplay come to life and working with the team that makes it happen.”