July 13, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer
When Colin Charles Dale was a young boy growing up in Hingham — filming amateur movies with his friends in his Sherwood Road neighborhood and watching the latest flicks at the Loring Hall Theatre with his family — he hardly imagined that one day many years later, an independent film that he wrote, directed, and produced would be shown in his hometown movie house.
A private screening of his creation, "Magnolia Flowers," is scheduled for Friday, July 16, at 9:30 p.m., and Saturday, July 17, at 11 a.m. at Loring Hall Theatre.
"I'm really excited for the film to show there," Dale told the Hingham Anchor.
While the movie features tough subject matter, it also conveys a sense of hope, according to Dale.
"Magnolia Flowers" is about a young woman, Caitlyn Doyle (an American actress from Stamford, Conn., played by Emma Waters of Tik Tok fame), who recounts the events leading up to her first suicide attempt and how her brothers, Adam and Connell -- each in their own way -- help her get back on her feet.
Caitlyn finally confronts her depression, comes to terms with it, and is willing to speak about it more openly.
Two former Hingham residents -- Sam Vita and Matt Haggerty -- who both graduated from BC High with Dale in 2016 -- are actors in the film. Vita is cast in the role of Connell, while Alec Carstoiu plays Adam and Haggerty is a friend of his in "Magnolia Flowers."
Vita was involved in theater while in high school, and Haggerty took up acting about the time that Dale was writing the screenplay.
"It's heavy subject matter but relevant to my generation specifically," said Dale, 23. "There are a lot of mental health struggles specific to people in their early teens to mid-20s, such as depression and anxiety. It may be that my generation is perhaps more vocal about these issues, with the heaviest end of the spectrum being the topic of suicide."
The name of the movie relates to Caitlyn's younger brother remembering vividly that his sister had an infatuation with magnolias, which blossom for only a short time each year.
"The way Caitlyn's depression manifests itself revolves around the changing of the seasons. As the magnolias start to bloom, she begins to feel better," Dale explained. "A sense of hope is conveyed through a really honest lens, one that is more truthful than I've seen in other movies that tackle the same issue," Dale said.
The targeted audience is age 15-25 and older because of the mature subject matter.
Of his three roles in creating the film -- screenwriting, directing, and producing -- Dale considers producing to be " a massive task" and the most challenging because it involves deciding "how logistically to put it all together," Dale said.
The finished film became a reality through his own company, Strange Place Productions. "The film still has to go through the festival circuit. My goal is for 'Magnolia Flowers' to make it to the Sundance Film Festival," Dale shared.
This project was totally self-initiated by Dale. "It's as independent as a film can get, which gives it authenticity. I'm proud of that," he said.
Dale explained the events that occurred leading him to a film career, starting with the amateur movies he and his friends made growing up. "My friend Patrick Greene and I used my dad's VHS camcorder to create spinoffs of Indiana Jones and Star Wars, which we loved," he recalls. "We also created a film story line revolving around 'A Soldier's Life.'"
Because Patrick's grandfather had been in the Army, he had access to, and wore, his Army fatigues when they filmed that particular movie.
Dale kept treating filmmaking as a fun hobby through middle school, and then began to take it seriously once he enrolled in a filmmaking class at BC High.
He went on from there making short films that he posted on YouTube for his friends to watch and give him feedback.
"I realized I could synthesize the writing skills that I had with the medium of filmmaking" -- which Dale went on to study at the University of South California. "It was the coolest thing ever," he said.
Dale began as a journalism major there but shortly thereafter switched to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he studied film and screenwriting.
"That was the best decision I ever made," Dale said. "The experience made me realize I would get much better at it as I went along, and I would be able to make movies."
Dale is excited about the Loring Hall Theater private screenings. "It just made sense," he said. "It's a cool space in an historic building with balcony seating, so this was the most obvious place to hold it [in this area]." Another screening was held in Los Angeles.
Check the Loring Hall Theater link at https://www.patriotcinemas.com/theater.aspx?house_id=1677e later this week to reserve tickets.