Words and Photos by Andrea Westerlund
Paul Tracy founded Westwood Studios, LLC, to create films that “tell stories about life.” Perusing their website, you’ll find an invitation:
“There’s enough drama in everyday life to fill a movie screen. Come escape your own drama and join us for some life stories that will have you on the edge of your emotions and keep you in suspense for hours.”
Despite running a successful production company – Envision Productions – for 28 years, Paul admits that filmmaking and narrative are more of a passion for him and what he studied at RIT. Envision Productions has allowed Paul to help numerous businesses tell their stories, but with Westwood Studios, he can branch into different kinds of entertainment – from narrative fiction to drama to comedy.
“The filmmaking process is a collaborative one,” explains Paul, “from script to screen, allowing many people to have a contribution to the look and feel of the film.”
The studio’s first project is a film called A Date for Anya, which is being created as a creative trailer to start. The film tells the story of a dedicated wife who, after coming to terms with her husband’s addiction, seeks to redeem him through unusual methods.
“This is a story about the drama of addiction, divorce, recovery and restoration,” explains Paul. “It approaches the topic of addiction – specifically sexual addiction – while daring to show the devesatation and root causes, all through the eyes of a dedicated wife.”
A Date for Anya features largely local talent and locations, including Amanda Phelps, who plays the title character. “I could really relate to Anya and some of her shortcomings and difficulties,” explains Amanda. “I think in the end, it’s about making tough choices and being able to stand by those choices.”
And though Paul has assembled a diverse cast and crew of lighting and camera specialists, sound recording artists, art designers, visual effects professionals and more, he believes that it all begins with story.
“I hope that viewers see that there’s hope for people with addiction and that it can be overcome,” adds Amanda, who shares that she’s been sober for seven years at the time of the interview. “People assume that addiction is a choice and this film shows that it’s not.”
Filled with interesting characters and a storyline that may surprise viewers, A Date for Anya is more than just one man’s maiden voyage into dramatic filmmaking. It’s also an opportunity for local people to be involved in the making of a full-length film.
Auditions were held in April for the trailer but additional auditions will occur in the fall when it’s time to cast the full film. This summer, Westwood Studios will spend 5 days filming snippets of 27 scenes that will be stitched together into a trailer. This short preview will serve as the basis for a fundraising campaign to produce the film. Westwood Studios is currently seeking funding partnerships to support bringing these stories to life.