OMAK – Aspiring filmmaker Sammy Black premiered a short movie at the Omak Theatre Thursday, Aug. 16, for a small group of family and friends including the cast.
Black, the 12-year-old son of actor Jack Black, wrote, shot, directed, acted in and edited the short film all on his own while his father was on a seven-day hike in the Pasayten Wilderness.
The movie, titled “The Solving of the Farm Massacre,” featured Tonasket resident Rob Burks as Robert Sanchez, an FBI agent attempting to solve the crime along with Sammy Black as Cletus, an innocent caught off-guard by the mysterious crimes. His 10-year-old brother Tommy and 11-year-old cousin Evan Murphy played Cletus’s brothers, Darryl and Darryl. His uncles Darren Murphy and Vance Larsen were cast as victims of Billy Bon Johnson, deceased 15,000 years ago but currently inhabiting a puppet and in search of human bodies to house his undead soul.
“If past films are any hint, this movie is going to be funny and scary at the same time,” said Jack Black before the film, which is a sequel to “The Farm,” Sammy made last year. “Funny and scary like the Scream but maybe not that scary.”
The filmmaker took to the stage pre-screening, along with Evan Murphy and Tommy Black.
“This is the five-minute version without the bloopers,” said Sammy. “The full version is about seven minutes, and I will be editing the full version soon.”
“He spent 10 hours editing it. This is a really funny movie, but some funny scenes, we had to edit out,” said Murphy. “He worked really hard on it, so if you don’t like it, don’t say that to our faces.”
The opening credits were “BLT Films presents a film by Sammy Black,” in recognition of the Black, Linda and Tom Farm in Tonasket where the movie was shot.
The movie garnered laughter the full five minutes, along with inhales of breath during the scarier parts. When the movie began to roll a second time, everyone present expressed the desire to watch it again.
“Radical!” shouted Jack at the end of the second show. “It was awesome. That’s my boy.”
The creative trio took to the stage once again.
“That was our movie, and like I said, I hope you liked it but if you didn’t please don’t tell us,” said Evan. “It took five hours a day to edit.”
“This is a sequel to the Aug. 2017 film, but we couldn’t load it to show it,” said Sammy. “This is the fully edited movie, but not the theater version because some people were supposed to send us some scenes, and they didn’t.”
Sammy said he worked on the film for three days, finishing editing that very morning.
The cast welcomed questions from the audience, with Evan Murphy answering he was the voice of the puppet.
“His mouth was stuck closed, but I do know how to operate a ventriloquist’s puppet,” Sammy assured the crowd.
“I never knew Rob could act so well! I’m going to have to have you in one of my plays,” exclaimed local community theater director and writer Sarah Kaiser.
“I did a lot of Sunday school skits when I was young,” said the former Tonasket police chief and now Big Pink Ink tattoo artist.
Larsen said he, too, was new to the game. “I’m excited to be a part of this. I smell some big things in my future,” said Larsen, who delayed his return home to Eden, Utah to stay for the premier.
“It’s cool we had the whole cast here,” said Jack.
“Except the puppet,” said Evan.
“Yeah, he’s in one of my suitcases,” said Jack, packed for the trip back to L.A. that day.
Sammy said he started making films when he was eight or nine years old. “Every year we do a movie here,” he said.
This was the first year they got to view it on the big screen, with Maria Lassila opening the theater for the special showing and putting Sammy’s name on the marquee.
Lassila, who manages the family owned Omak and Mirage Theaters, said she had recently ordered a premier backdrop, for stars to have their photo taken, as she prepared to premier the film “Eagle Boy.” Shown during Stampede weekend, the film features Suicide Race winner and owner/jockey Scott Abrahamson.
“Linda called a few days later and asked about screening Sammy’s film,” said Lassila. “We are becoming the film premier spot of the Okanogan. Stand back, Telluride.”
Good times in Tonasket
Sammy, who lives in L.A., said his favorite thing about coming to Tonasket was “there’s a lot of stuff to do here. We usually see our ancestors (relatives) and friends and stuff. And we like to go to the water park that my Grandma built.”
Sammy’s grandmother, Linda Black, along with Karen Stangland, spearheaded building the Water Ranch, made possible through support from Jack Black.
“And this is normally where we all get to see each other because we live in different places,” added Evan. “I live in Nevada, but I’m originally from San Diego.”
For Jack, a favorite activity when he comes to visit is the annual “Geezer Hike,” started by Ernie Bolz years ago, and now led by Walter Henze.
“We braved the smoke and lightning for seven days,” said Jack. “Last year we went in from Loomis to Hell’s Hole, and this year we went into the Pasayten Wilderness. The most beautiful site I’ve been to up in them thar hills is She Light Lake, at about 8,000 feet up.
“It’s a crystal blue lake with snow glaciers, even when it’s 100 degrees in Omak. There’s no trail; we bushwhacked in and when I got there, I stripped naked and jumped in because it looked so refreshing. It was like a purification process.”
“They’ve been doing it long enough now some of the old geezers are bringing their sons,” said Jack’s father Tom Black.
“We’re not supposed to have more than 12 on the trail, but we had 13 when someone else joined us on the trail,” said Jack, adding, “Scott Olson said he wasn’t going to eat dinner with us, because 13 on the trail is unlucky.”
Luckless or not, they all made it out safely.
“We’ve got to get you in for a tattoo one of these days,” said Burks.
“There’s talk,” replied Jack, who doesn’t have any yet. “Maybe I’ll get a Geezer Hike tattoo.”
Jack Black’s latest projects are “House in the Clock,” coming out in September, and “The Little Tenacious D That Could,” an animated flick due out at the end of September.