Huntington native premieres first short film

Stewart Elmore, director and writer of “West Park”, a short film, addresses his audience  during a question and answer session at GQT Huntington 7 theater after the first official screening of the movie on Saturday morning, Nov. 14.
Stewart Elmore, director and writer of “West Park”, a short film, addresses his audience during a question and answer session at GQT Huntington 7 theater after the first official screening of the movie on Saturday morning, Nov. 14. Photo by Lauren Winterfeld.

Huntington native Stewart Elmore debuted his short film “West Park” at GQT Huntington 7 theater on Saturday, Nov. 14.

The first official screening was held with two showings, and Elmore addressed the audience after each showing in a question and answer session.

The film was contrived as Elmore’s thesis project and was part of his Master of Fine Arts in Cinema and Television Directing from Columbia College Chicago.

In winter 2019 he began script writing, and overall it took a year and a half for Elmore to complete the film.

As with all things this year, COVID-19 threw a wrench in his filmmaking plans.

However, Elmore was able to persevere and in September 2020, “West Park” was finally complete.

The film is a fictional story, says Elmore, inspired by some true events. Two estranged siblings on their way to their father’s funeral rekindle their relationship at their family-owned roller rink as they look for a pair of their father’s skates.

This premise is near and dear to Elmore’s heart as his family owns West Park Skate Center in Huntington – the location of the film, and its namesake.

He used to be an employee at the skate center, and says it was surreal to return to it to create his film.

In an interview with The TAB during the film’s production in 2019 Elmore said,

“When I got to the second draft, I soon discovered that I was dangerously close to the film. It was a subject matter that was very close to my heart.”

Elmore said he was so close to the material that he found himself reluctant to present a version of the skate center in the script that didn’t closely resemble the real one. So, in the best interests of the story, he decided to recruit another writer to the project – one who could view it with less-sentimental eyes, reported Steve Clark in September 2019.

Elmore then hired Jack Pickard, a former Huntington North High School classmate living in Chicago. Pickard had graduated from Columbia with a degree in screenwriting and Elmore was interested in seeing him deliver a take on the script.

“Jack is like the best-possible person I could have found,” Elmore said. “Because, for one, he is a very talented writer … Secondly, he is familiar with the story and the context, but not married to it. He’s from Huntington.”

Pickard went on to write the next five drafts of the script. With Elmore providing feedback along the way, their collaboration yielded a screenplay that Elmore was ultimately pleased with.

Originally, Elmore’s goal was to wrap up the film’s production in March 2020. Although a global pandemic did get in his way of meeting that goal, he did fulfill his hope of screening the film at festivals, and also of holding a screening in Huntington.

“West Park” was recently a semi-finalist at the Chicago Indie Film Awards, which was held virtually, Elmore says.

He has also been invited to feature “West Park” at Vancouver Independent Film Festival in late November, he adds.

The screening held last weekend was, as Elmore said, hopefully the first of many.

More information about the film can be found at IMDb.com by searching for “West Park” or at the film’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/westparkfilm.