Documentary tells story of Lee’s joyous life, tragic death

Documentary tells story of Lee's joyous life, tragic death Pictured with Norman and Pat Lee (standing at the far right) are their two daughters, Kathy Vickers, Denver, CO, and Dr. Nancy Lee, Reno, NV. This photo was taken in the 1970s during a happy holiday gathering. by David Lias Bridget Bedard and Annie Howell were busy in Vermillion last week, scouting the city and the surrounding area for both locales and actors for a film project.

There�s a very important role in the film that, as of yet, hasn�t been filled.

The title of the movie will be Baby, and the key actor that the two women will soon be searching for is an infant.

�It�s an opportunity to have your child to have time in the spotlight right away,� Howell said with a laugh. �We believe the main appeal to parents is they can get their child�s 15 minutes of fame over with immediately, and they won�t have to worry about it through adolescence.�

Ideally, Bedard said, a four-week-old infant will work the best for the film.

�In the story, the baby is a boy, but what we�re thinking is we�ll try to have one principle baby that we shoot from the front, and a number of baby stand-ins that could be any size,� Howell said.

�It will pretty much be filmed around Vermillion,� Howell said. �It�s supposed to take place at a rest stop, so today (July 15) we went out and scouted out the one that�s on Highway 50. We�re also looking for a high school.�

�The film mostly takes place at a rest stop, in a car, in a cornfield and at a high school,� Bedard said.

The two women are students at New York University. This 30-minute film is part of Bedard�s thesis as she works toward earning a master of fine arts degree from NYU.

�Most people at NYU write and direct their own material,� Howell said. �So mostly the program trains writers and directors, but we all crew for one another, and we sort of switch off in different roles on the set, so we really all learning all the different jobs in film-making.�

A crew of about 10 people will arrive in Vermillion to begin shooting the movie in early Vermillion. Bedard and Howell plan to finish filming by Sept. 20. Post-production work will begin in October, with the film scheduled to be released May 1, 2000.

One of the reasons Vermillion will be the site of the film is Bedard�s familiarity with the community. She grew up in Utah, but her parents moved to Vermillion approximately three years ago. Her father teaches at USD, and her mother works at CorTrust Bank.

�I�ve been coming here every year, every Christmas and every summer, and I�ve been getting to know it (the community),� Bedard said. �I�ve been getting ideas for years.�

At first, the story line of Baby seems a bit far-fetched. But even though the story is fiction, it closely resembles at least two true-to-life stories of infant abandonment that have occurred in recent years in the United States.

Baby is the story of the Walkers, a Midwestern family on their way to Mount Rushmore for their annual summer vacation. Forced to pull over at a rest stop when their beat up station wagon overheats, they are shocked to find a newborn baby, all alone and abandoned.

Shock turns to moral indignation when they find the taffeta-clad teenage �prom mom� chatting away on the pay phone with her boyfriend, unwilling to take her baby. The Walkers take the baby under their protective wing, then try to bring the girl to justice. This proves more difficult then they imagined, and they are led on a frenetic chase through cornfields and country highways, ending in a classic Western standoff at the local prom.

Inspired by the news story of the young teenager who abandoned her baby to go to a dance, Baby is a meditative comedy about family and motherhood in contemporary America.

�The film is almost satirizing the event,� Bedard said. �There are so many issues and it says so much about our culture today.�

�I also think it is satirizing the event in a way that is forcing people to take a look at the culture that could produce these types of events,� Howell said.

Both Bedard and Howell hope their studies at NYU and their experiences in creating short films like Baby will land them major roles in the movie production business.

�I think we�d both like to write and direct feature films,� Howell said. �It sounds a little obscure, but it could happen.�

�I think people attend NYU to have the training in both writing and directing,� Bedard said. �And of course there�s no clear, marked path to becoming a film director, so you have to create your own roots. But you get enough of a foundation at NYU so that you can have a couple of short films under your belt, and a lot of time spent focusing on only on writing and directing.�

Parents of infants that are interested in seeing their children become part of the cast of Baby may contact Bedard�s mother by calling 624-4215.

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