Local film portrays the Enumclaw past

Many are familiar with Gary LaTurner’s art work – those rather abstract canvases of seasonal naturescapes – but did you know he’s also the director of cultural programs for the city? As such, he’s had considerable influence on our town’s centennial celebration this year.

One of the projects that perked in his psyche was a movie about Enumclaw and some of the founding entrepreneurs and egocentric characters from our past. He discussed his idea with Staci Bernstein, director of Hero Labs in Seattle, and she was quite receptive. As with any such artistic proposal, they needed financial backing, so they argued their case before the appropriate bureaucratic agencies and obtained a “Historic Site-Specific” grant from King County’s 4culture.

Filming was completed a couple of weeks ago. The end product will be a docudrama with old photographs of buildings, landscapes and pioneers. Actors and actresses portray actual people from the past in short, little vignettes. Many of the extras and minor parts used local, amateur actors, but the starring roles employed professional, established thespians, who may not be local but at least they’re all from Washington state. Many of the film’s central characters have, through the years, been subjects in these wayward columns. For instance, an actor portrays Sheriff Tom Smith who tried, as best he could, to maintain some semblance of law and order during Prohibition – when the Austrian bootleggers in Krain were at “war” with the Italians in Ravensdale – and whose stern, unflinching eyes continued to slap drunks back to sobriety and tame obnoxious farm boys throughout the 1930s and ‘40s. Then there was Frank Wetzel, founder of the Sales Pavilion and an important member of the local gambling cartel that was composed of several respectable, high-finance entrepreneurs. And let’s not forget Violet “Vi” Cass, a high school science teacher in the 1940s and ‘50s who was very active as a community organizer, especially for the town’s first hospital and the Enumclaw Girls’ Club. How about “Johnny” Eaton, the legendary woman logger, and George Bruhn, who seemed to be active in every fraternity and innovative business that came down the pike?

Staci and Gary wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to Rachel Poling, who served as local producer, make-up artist, hair stylish and locale manager. Nothing would have happened without her long hours of unselfish commitment.

Gary has final artistic control over the project. If there’s something he doesn’t like, Hero Labs will probably change it.

Dependent upon the grant money, the film should be completed in early 2014. Will it win a prize at the 2014 Cannes Festival? I’ll go way out on the limb and fearlessly predict it won’t even get a “honorable mention.” But the DVD might be quite popular with local history buffs.