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'Angel's Perch' lands in Charleston

Lawrence Pierce
Husband-and-wife team J.T. Arbogast and Kim Dilts will screen "Angel's Perch," their film about Alzheimer's disease, Sunday at the Capitol Center Theater. The movie was shot in Pocahontas County.

WANT TO GO?

"Angel's Perch"

WHERE: Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers St.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: Advance tickets $10, at the door $15

INFO: 800-838-3006 or www.angelsperch.com/tickets/

 CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sunday night, the Capitol Center Theater is rolling out the red carpet for the world premiere of West Virginia's own "Angel's Perch."

The film, shot last fall in Pocahontas County, completed post-production over the winter. The movie's producers, husband and wife J.T. Arbogast and Kim Dilts, are in West Virginia this week and looking forward to sharing their little movie about a family's struggle with Alzheimer's disease in a small town.

They're glad to be here, but kind of glad it's over, too.

"It took almost three and a half years from beginning to end," Arbogast said. "We got there with a lot of help from a lot of talented and dedicated people. It's been an amazing journey."

Many of these people were from the town of Cass. The pair credited them with going above and beyond what anyone expected to help make their film a reality.

"There were just a lot of good people there," Arbogast said.

"Angel's Perch" began as a passion project promoted on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. Using a story based on Arbogast's family experiences in West Virginia, the couple asked for $25,000 to make their movie.

Their campaign was wildly successful, and they wound up with about $5,000 more than they asked for. But it was still not nearly enough to make a movie.

Still, they persevered, scraped and scrounged to get "Angel's Perch" made. They found funding and equipment through different grants. They partnered with the Alzheimer's Association and took advantage of the tax credit offered through the West Virginia Film Office.

"We refinanced my car to make this film," Dilts said with a laugh. "We learned a lot about raising money. This movie really was a crash course in using different kinds of income streams."

It also was a lesson in persistence.

Arbogast said a lot of films, big and small, get held up in development. There's often a checklist of conditions that have to be met in order for the film to get made. It can take years for that list to be cleared, if it gets cleared at all.

Many films simply fail, and the couple said "Angel's Perch" could have stalled out if they'd ever quit trying to come up with solutions.

Arbogast said, "I think, to get something like this made, you have to decide it's going to get done come hell or high water."

There were points where they faced both.

"It was a lot like how I imagine giving birth feels like," Dilts said. "I think the only way films get made after you make one is you forget how hard and painful the last one was."

Painful or not, though, they're proud of what they've accomplished: a little film with a big heart that throws a positive light on the state of West Virginia and maybe serves to open a dialogue with people about Alzheimer's disease.

"But I think it opens up that dialogue in a safe place," Arbogast said. "For the Alzheimer's community, I think it's a different way for them to engage their constituents."

The couple acknowledged that it's unlikely that "Angel's Perch" is going to be a big mainstream hit or turn up at the Cannes Film Festival.

"We thought about going the film festival route," Dilts said, "but 'Angel's Perch' just isn't dark or edgy enough for that."

It's more mainstream. So, instead of running big ad campaigns or trying to get their movie into major-market theaters, which the pair said they clearly can't afford, they're screening the film at about 25 locations around the country and also are using a film distribution service called Tugg, which is similar to Kickstarter.

Through Tugg, an event is scheduled with a specific goal for the number of seats sold. If the required seats are sold, bank accounts of the buyers are charged and the screening happens.

"It's very grassroots," Arbogast said.

They hope people will give "Angel' Perch" a look on Sunday and then tell their friends about it. It might make it to their hometowns.

"We hope people will embrace the movie," Dilts said. "Come see it!"

The film will have a limited run beginning June 29 at Marquee Cinemas locations in Beckley, Huntington, South Charleston and Triadelphia.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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