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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hollywood coming to Rockingham County! MANDIE AND THE SECRET TUNNEL to film at Chinqua-Penn

This is great news, because it really shows how far Chinqua-Penn Plantation has come in just the past year. The historic manor near Reidsville was once among the most opulent and celebrated houses in America, until it had to close down several years ago because of lack of funding. Then last year Calvin and Lisa Phelps bought the place and immediately started turning things around. This past weekend they even had Gatsby Days (a celebration of the 1920s) again at Chinqua-Penn.

Now there's this: film production company A Five Picture Deal out of Atlanta is going to start shooting Mandie and the Secret Tunnel at Chinqua-Penn next week!

It stars Dean Jones! Who played whats-his-name in Disney's "Herbie" movies!

Look! Press release!

October 2, 2007

For immediate release –

Chinqua Penn Plantation, located at 2138 Wentworth Street in Reidsville, N.C., is pleased to announce it will be the site of a movie to be filmed October 10 – 25, 2007. Independent film makers, Owen Smith and Joy Chapman of A Five Picture Deal in Atlanta chose Chinqua Penn for the interior scenes of "Mandie and the Secret Tunnel". Smith acquired the film rights from author Lois Leppard's book by the same name, several years ago when his little sister was reading it and suggested it be made into a movie. The story centers on Mandie, who comes to live with her Uncle John at his estate upon her father’s death, and the adventures she shares there with new-found friends. Set in the early 1900's, the Mandie series boasts a delightful cast of characters who, in the tradition of Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables, learn valuable lessons as they suffer hardships and celebrate life's triumphs.

A Five Picture Deal specializes in period family films. Smith and Chapman teamed up previously to produce the five-part Sugar Creek Gang series based on books by the same name. Their approach is to make the films accessible and entertaining for all ages. Rather than a kid film with a few laughs for the adults, or a grown-up film with some silly character tossed in for the kids, Smith and Chapman strive to create fully developed stories that are timeless in their appeal and therefore target people of all ages.

Chapman said, "In our search for the perfect mansion we initially looked for a classic southern plantation home. Fortunately for us, Chinqua Penn has the word plantation in its name! An internet search brought up the web site for Chinqua Penn and the uniqueness of the house quickly gave us new ideas for taking the location in an entirely new and interesting direction. Chinqua Penn is the sort of place we would never have imagined to look for, but it is exactly the place we needed. The house and its contents quickly became characters in their own right and will add an entirely new dimension to the film. No one is going to be prepared for what they see when we introduce them to the interiors of Chinqua Penn Plantation in the movie. I know we were certainly not expecting it when we were given our initial tour of the house."

Dean Jones, well-known for his work with Disney in such films as Herbie the Love Bug and That Darn Cat, stars as Jason Bond, caretaker of the estate. Lexi Johnson, of The Sugar Creek Gang series plays Mandie. Amanda Waters,
child model, will make her acting debut in "Mandie" as the title character's neighbor. William Yelton (past work includes the upcoming HBO mini-series John Adams with Tom Hanks, a part in the film Bolden and Hound Dog with Dakota Fanning) will play the role of Joe Woodard, Mandie's life-long friend.

The shooting will be closed-set and therefore the house will not be open for weekday tours October 9 through October 25. However, tours will be conducted on weekends as usual during this time and Grounds Tours, the Gift Shop and the Wine Tasting Room will operate on their regular week-day schedule over these dates.

Very cool news indeed! Maybe someday I'll get to make a movie there :-)


Jenna St.Hilaire said...

Mandie and the Secret Tunnel?! I used to read the Mandie books when I was a kid. I am definitely going to have to see this one for old times' sake, and the setting should make it extra interesting.