Maine native returns to make thesis film

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Noah LePage’s latest short film, “Elysia,” is set in Western Maine where he grew up.

It required six months of production work prior to the five days of recent filming in New Sharon and Temple.

LePage, 21, of Brooklyn, grew up in New Sharon and graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington in 2014. He will graduate in December from New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in film and television production.   

“Elysia” counts toward his thesis for a production class, he said.

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Fellow film students from NYU formed the 17-member crew. Three actors who were also from NYU and three locals, Elysia Roorbach, Robin Lisherness and Juliet Karelsen, made up the cast.

The movie is a fantasy about a young girl who gets to travel to the afterlife for one day to reconnect with her mother. There are conflicts with her father and siblings, but the film is about memories, family and how we cope without them and remember them, LePage said.

The young girl is played by Roorbach, a 17-year-old Mt. Blue High School student, whom LePage directed in local productions while in high school.

“She took an acting workshop in Los Angeles and is really serious about the work,” he said. “She did an amazing job.”

Karelsen, of Temple, who plays Elysia’s mother in the film, is her mother in real life.

LePage waited to name the film until he cast the role. The real Elysia fits the movie person and he wanted it named after the person in the acting role, he said. 

The film is being edited before being submitted to film festivals. LePage hopes to bring it to the Maine Film Festival in Waterville and other festivals around the world. 

His films have already received awards from festivals and organizations, including the Bushwick Film Festival in New York and the Madrid Art Film Festival in Spain. He recently received NYU’s prestigious Niklas Kalborg Award for his film “Peach and Cherry,” he said in a news release.

LePage, son of school teachers Gordon and Carol LePage of New Sharon, said he has always had an interest in acting and writing. Growing up, he was involved in local productions and wrote his own skits, he said.

He wrote plays in high school before directing, which he likes because he can interact with the actors, he said.

“Around the age of 15, I got hooked on the idea of movies,” he said.

The summer of his sophomore year in high school he earned a scholarship to Maine Media Workshop in Rockport. 

“It was a huge game-changer,” he said. “It convinced me that films were what I wanted to do.”

He most likes the collaboration that’s needed for making movies. 

“In writing or music, you can fine-tune it, but film is total collaboration,” he said. “You have one moment in time to get it right. It has to be a collaborative effort.”

As part of another course, LePage traveled to France for six weeks in 2016 to make a movie in Paris. It was nice to get the recognition of the NYU award for it, he said.

For now, LePage has applied for a few writing positions in the city where he plans to stay for another year. Then he would like to move to France, which is supportive of filmmakers and provides grants, he said.

A crowdfunding on Indiegogo ended recently, but a trailer of “Elysia” and more information on his work is still available there. His contact information remains at www.indiegogo.com/projects/elysia-a-folktale-film for anyone who wants to support the film.

NYU provided a small amount of money for “Elysia.” For the rest, LePage took out a loan. The crowdfunding was partially to help with the film’s expenses and a quarter of the amount raised goes to RAINN, the leading anti-sexual assault and anti-sexual harassment organization in the U.S., he said. In light of the way things have been going, he wanted to give back, he said.

abryant@sunmediagroup.net

Noah LePage directs Juliet Karelsen of Temple, middle, and her daughter, Elysia Roorbach, while filming “Elysia” on the banks of the Sandy River in New Sharon recently. (Submitted photo) 

Six actors, including three locals, plus a crew of 17 recently filmed “Elysia” at locations in New Sharon and Temple for Maine native filmmaker Noah LePage. (Submitted photo)

Elysia Roorbach, a student at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, was recently cast in filmmaker Noah LePage’s film “Elysia.” (Submitted photo)

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