The cast didn’t include any really famous names, and the movie was low-budget, but writer/director Kirk Schriefer is thrilled to see his movie available on Amazon Prime Video, more than a decade after filming it.
The Angel Inn, a feature-length independent film, was filmed in about three weeks back in 2010.
At the time his wife Ruth Anne was establishing The Pie Plate, a popular bakery and cafe in Virgil, and Kirk was helping out, while trying to raise enough money to fulfill his own dream, to see his first full-length movie on a big screen.
He found several supporters, family and friends, who invested $1,000 each, and maxed out a credit card to get it filmed.
The premise of the movie is three life-long friends torn apart by tragedy in their youth, are brought back together through a journey of romance, discovery and forgiveness when they co-inherit a popular local pub, The Angel Inn.
Many scenes, especially the outdoor ones, were filmed using the Regent Street pub. Schriefer had planned for the entire film to use the Angel, and had received permission from the owners of the day, to film inside the inn. But long-time owner Peter Ling had died, and the current owners wanted to help, but only during the hours the inn was closed, which didn’t work well with the filming schedule.
Doug Fowler, owner of The Anchorage on Ricardo Street, which at that time had closed but had not yet been torn down, stepped up and agreed the building could be used for the film.
“He was very supportive,” says Schriefer, and was okay with turning the large indoor space into something smaller, more suitable for what the film-maker was picturing.
Those who live in Niagara-on-the-Lake may well recognize many of the extras, although some of the cast have moved on, notably Tom Braybrook, propping up the bar as a character named Lachey, with two other men. Braybrook, who is living out west with his wife Jill, was supposed to be Scottish, the other two Irish and English. “They had a lot of fun,” says Schriefer, which is apparent in the movie.
Making his acting debut in the film is Rev. Bob Wright, who allowed St. Mark’s Church to be used as one of the settings, and who ended up playing a part he is quite familiar with in real life. Affectionately known locally as Father Bob, from his tenure at St. Mark’s, he played himself.
The movie also features “eclectic regulars,” and a disappearing and reappearing prosthetic leg.
There is a long list of familiar names: Perry Johnson, Gary Peterson, Tony DeLuca, and several members of the Schriefer family, some of them musicians, and some other musicians around town — music is a big part of the movie. Some of the Schriefers are known locally also for working together at The Pie Plate, the beloved Virgil cafe and bakery which has recently moved from Niagara Stone Road to the old firehall building on Four Mile Creek Road.
“At one point I was so hurting for extras to make the bar look full, I went out on to the street and rounded people up,” he says.
It took another three years to bring the film to the screen. Schriefer didn’t have the budget to pay for editing, so the project was taken on by some talented people willing to donate their time because they believed in the movie, but to suit their schedules, it took longer than expected, he explains.
Many businesses and individuals contributed to the making of the movie by either providing a location to shoot, scenery, props, acting as extras, or donating meals for the actors and crew, says Schriefer.
The premiere at the Shaw in January, 2013, was sold out, and was really a party for all those involved, to celebrate what they had accomplished, Schriefer says. It was definitely a highlight for him to see his movie on the big screen, with a large audience that included many of his friends and family.
“Everyone got in the spirit, got dressed up, and we rented a red carpet and search lights — what’s a premiere without search lights? You could see them from the QEW.”
The rights were purchased by a distribution company, which allowed him to pay off his credit card. It took many more years than he had anticipated to see it available to watch on TV, but he’s thrilled to have it shown now on Amazon Prime.
“I’m still getting a few pennies for it,” he says.
And he’s received texts and emails from friends who have had fun taking a trip down memory lane, watching the video.
At the time he was hoping it would be a stepping stone to his second movie, which was already written. That didn’t happen, and he’s no longer “waiting for Hollywood to call.” He’s moved on with his life, concentrating on The Pie Plate, he says.
For more information or to view the movie, visit https://www.imdb.com/