2018-05-10 / Front Page

Filming the fight

Soldiers’ story told through web series
By Abigail Worthing Staff Writer


Director and actor Justin Fortin of Poland stoops to check the pulse of fallen comrade, played by Evan Clinton of Moultonborough, New Hampshire, as cinematographer Alan Dillingham of Auburn captures this scene from “Hearts in New England,” a web series that filmed this week in Saco. (Abigail Worthing photo) Director and actor Justin Fortin of Poland stoops to check the pulse of fallen comrade, played by Evan Clinton of Moultonborough, New Hampshire, as cinematographer Alan Dillingham of Auburn captures this scene from “Hearts in New England,” a web series that filmed this week in Saco. (Abigail Worthing photo) SACO – It was a scene quite out of the ordinary on a Watson Mill Road farm. Soldiers ran back and forth, hostages were threatened and (faux) blood was spilled. Strange for rural Saco, but just another day of filming for Maine-based web series, “Hearts in New England.”

At the helm of this controlled chaos is Justin Fortin of Poland, Maine, director of the web series. The series, in which Fortin, 29, is also a lead actor, is about two soldiers who return home after our current conflict who struggle with their past experiences, but choose to not discuss their traumas.


Make-up artist Stacey Badillo of Vassalboro applies a gunshot wound to the forehead of actor Evan Clinton of Moultonborough, New Hampshire, in preparation for a scene from “Hearts in New England.” (Abigail Worthing photo) Make-up artist Stacey Badillo of Vassalboro applies a gunshot wound to the forehead of actor Evan Clinton of Moultonborough, New Hampshire, in preparation for a scene from “Hearts in New England.” (Abigail Worthing photo) The story is told through scenes in the soldiers’ present life and in flashbacks to their time in the war. The series has filmed throughout New England and features a cast and crew from Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“It’s like a mix between ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Damages,’” Fortin said.

The scene filmed on May 1 at the barn is one such flashback scene. The two soldiers, played by Fortin and Anthony Gaudette of Derry, New Hampshire, are dealing with a hostage situation, and during the altercation their comrade, played by Evan Clinton of Moultonborough, New Hampshire, is killed. The scene is tense and full of action, and the cast and crew work together to create the best shot possible.

Even during a break on the set, members of the crew collaborate on details for the next scene so it will flow smoothly. Stacy Badillo, a makeup artist from Vassalboro, applies a gory and convincing bullet wound to Clinton’s forehead, while the production’s stunt coordinator Mark Bedell of Saco helps Fortin and Gaudette with their weapons before coaching Clinton on the best way to fall without hurting himself after he has been “shot” during the next scene.

As filming begins, Fortin confers with the rest of the crew to discuss the best course of action for the scene. Together they discuss the logistics of the shot: the camera angle, the splatter of stage blood, where Clinton should land as he falls. A ladder is brought in so cinematographer Alan Dillingham of Auburn can capture the scene from above. As Dillingham positions himself on the ladder, there is a call for quiet on the set. Bedell supports Clinton as he leans back in position for his fall and applies a pool of faux blood with a plastic syringe to ensure that the “blood” will splatter with the fall.

Quiet is called on the set.

There is a flurry of activity as Dillingham calls “Action!”

Bedell removes his hands and runs out of frame as Clinton falls backward with the force of someone who has just been shot point-blank to the head. The “blood” runs down his face as mud splatters from the impact of his body. He gives a final shudder and is finally still.

“Cut!” is shouted and the dead man on the ground calls out, “Did you get it?”

To an outsider, this may seem like a strange way to spend your day, but to the seasoned cast and crew, it’s a normal day in the office. Theirs is a production built around connections, where everyone on the set can cite the films in which they’ve worked together.

Fortin and Dillingham have recruited most of the cast from previous films, and others were recommended by crewmembers along the way.

Every person on set brings his or her unique experiences and talents to the production. Dillingham runs his own production company, Killatainment, specializing in horror and action films. A 2013 Southern Maine Community College communications and media graduate, Dillingham has worked in film “mostly” all his life, and enjoys meeting new people through film.

When asked about his favorite part of filming in Saco, he replied, “Everything here is quiet.”

Bedell grew up in Saco, but moved to California is 2011 to pursue a career as a stunt man. His credits include “Alias,” “Tears of the Sun,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean-Dead Man’s Chest.” Bedell also secured the Waston Mill Road farm as the filming location, as it belongs to his niece, Adrienne Powers.

For many of them, a day like this is old hat. Logan Raposo of New Bedford, Massachusetts is only 24, but says he has had 115 roles since 2016. This production is particularly exciting for him because he is doing his own fight scenes. This is also Raposo’s first visit to Maine.

Another seasoned vet on set is 12-yearold Isabella Cottrell of Gilmanton, New Hampshire. She plays the hostage in the scene, and has been acting since she was 5.

“It’s fun to play another person. It’s like playing dress-up,” Cottrell said.

Fortin is producing the show himself but he plans to shop around for a production company. When not working on his web series, Fortin is the assistant store manager at Walmart in Windham, and devoted family man. Fortin and wife Emily have five children, aged 1 to 11.

Fortin and his team have filmed five episodes for the series so far, and plan to film another five this year. Fortin has a five-season plan for the show, and has filled in his cast of the plans for the twists and reveals.

The episodes run between 15 and 20 minutes. However, the pilot will premier as a culmination of all their work so far. The premiere of “Hearts in New England” is scheduled for Sept. 30 at the Saco Drive-In. Tickets are $10 per car.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@inthecourier.com.

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