At its world premiere, held at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, Another Harvest Moon was awarded the Audience Award Grand Prize for a Feature Film and its score was given the Best Original Music Composition award (for composers Ricardo Garcia and William V. Malpede).
This is both a highly personal film and one that appeals to anyone who has had an elderly relative. It’s personal to director Greg Swartz. When he saw the play written by his writing partner Jeremy T. Black he had just gone through the traumatic experience of watching his own father die.
However he says the film is about the quality of life not the quantity, it is how you live your life, not how long you live it.
The film was shot over a four-week period in the summer of 2008, mostly near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The nursing home at the center of the story was part of the recently closed Pennsylvania State Hospital campus, originally called the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Asylum. Because this particular building had closed only a few months earlier it still had the right look for the film, though the bars had to be removed from windows. Girl, Interrupted was shot on the same campus.
With Swartz’ help, Jeremy Black broadened his original play for cinematic purposes. The play had only the four elderly characters. They talked about their children but they were never seen. Seeing the anguish and difficulties experienced by the characters portrayed by Richard Schiff and Cybill Shepherd gives new dimensions. Piper Laurie’s character’s granddaughter, played by Amber Benson, shows youth and vitality.
When the production company made a casting call for extras some 680 people showed up. A local nursing home offered as many residents as they needed. They bussed them in each day and provided their own nurses. At the end of the shoot the nursing home gave “Oscars” to all their ladies.
The only sequence shot outside the campus was a Labor Day camp scene filmed near York, Pennsylvania. It called for a live deer and a dead deer, both provided by a local deer farmer.
About the cast…This was the 199th film for the amazing Ernest Borgnine, still active at the age of 92. He received an Emmy® nomination for his work on ER, just a couple of weeks before the world premiere of Another Harvest Moon at the Rhode Island International Film Festival, where he received a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has received many awards during his career, including the Oscar® for his bravura performance in the 1955 film Marty. Piper Laurie has received three Academy Awards® nominations—for Children of a Lesser God, Carrie and The Hustler and no less than nine Emmy® noms, including a win for her role in Promise, plus a Golden Globe for Twin Peaks. Doris Roberts was nominated for an Emmy® seven straight years, for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond, winning it four times. She has won numerous other awards for her acting. The multi-talented Anne Meara also has numerous Emmy nods and a Golden Globe® nomination. As well as her acting career she is well-known for her comedy act with husband Jerry Stiller. Richard Schiff, known as an actor’s actor, was seen for many years in the television drama West Wing for which he won an Emmy® and two Screen Actors Guild Awards as a member of the ensemble cast. Cybill Shepherd is another multi-award winner with three Golden Globes® for Cybill and Moonlighting in which she starred with Bruce Willis, three People’s Choice Awards and a host of Emmy® nominations. Amber Benson, who plays the granddaughter of Piper Laurie’s character, has a strong fan following for her role Tara, the shy witch in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Though only 15 when he was cast as Frank’s grandson, Cameron Monaghan has a raft of experiences appearing in such popular TV shows as Monk, The Mentalist and Numb3rs.
About the filmmakers…This is the feature-directing debut for Greg W. Swartz, though he has paid his Hollywood dues directing numerous shorts. He has also worked as producer, writer, and production manager. Producer Bobby Black produced and directed his self-financed feature Welcome to Serendipidy. He has previously worked at Oxygen Media, Nickelodeon and VH1. Producer Chad Taylor is a founding member and guitarist of the renowned rock band Live, appearing on all the top late night shows. He produced the critically acclaimed Home starring Marcia Gay Harden. This is the first venture into motion pictures for executive producer Steven M. Delamater who has a background as a jazz musician and has business interests in a chain of 10 McDonalds restaurants, land development and in import and export. Screenwriter Jeremy T. Black based it on his own stage play, expanding the original premise to more characters. Jeffrey A. Cunningham, the director of photography has worked his way through every position in a movie’s camera department and over the last six years has been the cinematographer on some nine movies and TV shows. His most recent was on the feature film Fuel. Production designer Carl Sprague has worked on a number of well known films, as designer or art director, including Amistad, The Royal Tenenbaums, State and Main and Michael. The composer team of Ricardo Garcia and William V. Malpede are two of the most in-demand musicians in Hollywood.