Three years ago, I set out to make a feature film. I didn’t have any idea what it was going to be about, but I was yearning to make a movie, and for the first time in my life, I felt ready to do so. One of the best decisions I ever made was to set my film in a winery. Here are some of the best rewards of making Cement Suitcase, a movie about a tasting room manager in Washington State’s wine country.
Research, Research, Research
One of the best reasons for writing a feature-length screenplay? Learning more about your subject! I visited wineries, talked to a lot of folks, and drank a lot of wine. It was all tax-deductible too.
I chose to film in Central Washington for two reasons. One, it was where I grew up. And two, it was also an area completely bursting with wineries that hadn’t ever been featured on film. My lead actor, Dwayne Bartholomew, and I set out wine-tasting in order to make sure we were being authentic. We started in the Red Mountain and Columbia Valley AVA’s, all the way to the Yakima Valley AVA and the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail. From the very quaint Paradiso Del Sol winery in Zillah, so rustic that chickens chase each other in the front yard, to the impressively designed and manicured Vintner’s Village of Prosser.
Making Friends with a Winery
One of the greatest rewards of filming in a winery, is that you’re filming your movie in a winery! It allowed us to really form a bond with everyone there, not just during the filming, but over the whole course of the film.
And so far, it seems like it’s been working! We’ve already had quite a few screenings of the film in actual wineries, and it’s been wonderful to see the wine community appreciate all our hard work. Here’s to wine!
Rick Castañeda is a writer/director/producer, and co-founder of Psychic Bunny, an LA production company. He is very excited about finishing his first feature film, and his newfound love of wine.
Cement Suitcase is available on: