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DailyTidings.com
  • HOMEGROWN CINEMA

    From stage to screen

    Peter Wickliffe has turned his successful play, 'Black Friday' into a feature film shot in Ashland's Paddington Station
  • An original play that debuted in Medford about the chaos of the busiest shopping day of the year is being transformed into a feature-length film.
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  • An original play that debuted in Medford about the chaos of the busiest shopping day of the year is being transformed into a feature-length film.
    Peter Wickliffe first wrote "Black Friday" more than four years ago and finally brought it to stage at the Randall Theatre last fall.
    "It was received really well," said Wickliffe. "We had numerous sold-out houses."
    After seeing how popular the show was with audiences, Wickliffe set out to turn the play into a film, with hopes of selling the DVD locally and possibly entering it into a festival.
    He gathered seven of the eight original actors together to relive "Black Friday," a story about store employees preparing for the all-day shopping spree.
    "Everybody really wanted to do it," said Wickliffe. "It's been going really smoothly, a lot of fun, sort of like a reunion."
    Paddington Station, a busy, two-story Ashland gift shop usually packed with locals and tourists, agreed to let Wickliffe film in the store after hours during three weekends in May. Filming for the movie wrapped Sunday.
    Filming when it was dark out was appropriate for the film, Wickliffe said, because it takes place early in the morning before the story opens.
    "It's supposed to be the day of Black Friday and it's the early morning hours and they're getting ready for it," Wickliffe said.
    The movie is broken into two parts, one where employees prepare for Black Friday and a second during Christmas Eve, another busy shopping day.
    "The first act, which is now the first half, is very fast-paced," Wickliffe said. "It's the ridiculousness of them trying to get ready."
    The film is mostly focused on the eight main characters — store employees — but Wickliffe also used about a dozen extras to portray the mob of shoppers during a couple of scenes.
    Wickliffe said it was easy to direct the actors, who remembered many of their lines from the stage performance.
    "They rehearsed it on stage, so they can pretty much run with it," he said. "It's actually amazing how much the actors remember."
    Wickliffe borrowed a friend's camera to film the movie and all of the actors volunteered their time, so the film's budget was kept very low, he said.
    Wickliffe hopes to finish editing the film so that it's ready for release this fall, in time for this year's Black Friday. He plans to hold some showings, and is considering entering it in the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
    The film will also be released on DVD and sold at the Randall Theatre, with proceeds going back to the actors.
    Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at teresa.ristow@gmail.com.
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