The Marysville Drive-In Theater has become more than just a place to catch a movie under the stars.
On Wednesday and Thursday, an entourage of actors, directors and stage managers used the open air cinema off of Highway 70 at Chestnut Road in Olivehurst to shoot an independent film.
Titled "Tweek City," the low-budget movie is a tour through the danger-laden world of methamphetamine addiction, said director Eric Johnson, a Los Angeles resident.
The Marysville Drive-in will be featured in the opening and closing shots of the movie, which is set on the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
"Bill," the film's protagonist, is a half-Latino man who struggles with a sexual-identity crisis, his mother's suicide and a meth habit, Johnson said.
The film's opening shot takes place at the drive-in - made to look like an open-air theater in Los Angeles - where Bill recalls events from his youth, such as his first kiss.
The cast is composed of relatively unknown actors.
At the film's climax, Bill winds up at the drive-in again, and experiences a revelation while in a hallucinatory, sleep-deprived state.
Johnson, a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, said he was not aware of the Yuba-Sutter area's high rates of meth addiction or its prevalent drug labs.
|Dave Nielsen Appeal-Democrat|
|Child actors Landy Molly and Brett Banducci lean on a car during a break in the filming of a movie Wednesday night at the Marysville Drive-In in Olivehurst. The film, "Tweek City," explores the danger-laden world of methamphetamine addiction, said director Eric Johnson.|
Rather than offering a commentary on meth problems in the Mid-Valley, Johnson said his film portrays a lifestyle he observed while living in San Francisco 10 years ago.
Johnson said he saw roommates use meth heavily and struggle with the side effects of addiction.
"I think it had something to do with what I witnessed," Johnson said. "It's about what I saw there."
The film doesn't have a moralistic slant, Johnson said.
"I'm not big into morals," Johnson said. "I think it's about one man's journey toward spiritual, sexual, religious and ethnic resolution."
Caitlin Maynard, co-producer and line producer of "Tweek City," surveyed numerous possible sites for the film shoot.
She said she chose the Marysville Drive-In because of its unaltered layout.
With old speakers, an old billboard and few new features, the drive-in was a rare find in Northern California, Maynard said.
"I think it's just a special drive-in," Maynard said. "It's been kept in its original form, it hasn't been spruced up in a tacky way and they haven't tried to add a lot of glitzy things to attract people."
Bob Golding, the drive-in's owner since 1978, said "Tweek City" is the first film to be shot on his property.
Golding said he's happy that the film shoot might bring exposure to his theater.
He said he welcomes any publicity for drive-ins, which are falling victim to competition from multiplex theaters and economic decline.
"As long as it's good for the drive-in industry, that's what I want more than anything," Golding said. "We're being decimated so fast."
©2002 The Appeal-Democrat