Independent film: Summers working in Funtown inspires web series

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Everyone thinks their job would make a great movie or TV show. Nick Salve knows it.

“From when I was in high school I worked for Funtown,” the Gorham filmmaker said of his time at Saco Amusement Park and Maine Summer School. “I actually spent eight summers there between high school and college. I started as a children’s merry-go-round operator, I evolved in the Astrosphere, then I moved on to administration / management. “

This time in the touristy surroundings of a bustling Maine amusement park is the basis of “Poseidon’s Gate,” an 11-episode web series about the comedic and chaotic workings of a mildly dysfunctional Maine amusement park. Currently in pre-production, and with a Launch campaign on its way to donors, “Poseidon’s Gate” represents the long-standing love story between software engineer Salve and the world of roller coasters, cotton candy and the occasional accident resulting from mixing cotton candy. daddy and roller coaster.

“I met my wife because of Funtown and my whole circle of friends,” said Salve, who also dropped the astounding truth bomb (to me, at least) that he actually ruled the legendary astrosphere. by FunTown. For those not in the know, the Astrosphere took the Scrambler’s trusty carnival ride, locked it in a dome (first vinyl, now concrete) and turned off the lights, detonating the “Fire On High. “from ELO as a laser light show (with some images of real bananas) flashes on the dome around you. I first encountered this groundbreaking feat of Maine-made psychedelic carny fun when I was a kid and still marvel at its trippy, stomach-upsetting glow to this day. But I digress.

“Poseidon’s Gate” uses all of Salve’s intimate theme park knowledge to create a workplace sitcom about the two adult children of the park’s aging owners as they try to convince their parents not to cede the park riparian hardly solvent to hungry developers. “The park is literally their life,” Salve said of siblings Hunter and Celler. “They grew up rich and never had to do anything, and consider Poseidon’s Gate to be the only thing they can do.”

Salve has worked on “Poseidon’s Gate” as obsessively as Hunter and Celler do to save the park. Make a “proof of concept” pilot for “Poseidon’s Gate” (which you can watch online for free) in 2016, Salve has since honed its history and skills. “It’s changed a lot,” Salve said of his current concept for the series.

Looking at this pilot from a long time ago, I agree with Salve’s reservations that there are rough edges. “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” dominate the documentary-style comedy action, and other than a few set shots, the theme park atmosphere isn’t as strong as it could be. (The pilot was shot for free, using the offices of Southern Maine Community College.) And yet Salve’s vision is solidly secured for all of this, with more than competent acting and cast of Maine actors producing 19 Minutes always funny TV shenanigans.

That said, Salve wants viewers / potential donors to know that a lot has changed at “Poseidon’s Gate” over the years of writing, planning, and uploading. MasterClass.com inspirational writing tips Aaron Sorkin and Shonda Rhimes. Out is the “Office” style documentary format, as Salve explains that the original pilot’s mock doc style was chosen to address the need for actors paid with pizza to have microphones attached to their lapels. Additionally, following the sage advice of his television writing heroes (who include Mike Schur from “The Good Place” and Justin Spitzer from “Superstore”), Salve has set up a narrative countdown on his character’s journey all over. throughout the season.

Explaining that unlike the pilot of a long time ago, Hunter and Celler are now the central characters in the series, Salve says, “The agreement that Hunter and Celler make with their parents is that the park has a year to complete a dollar profit. You need that clock, where everything that happens must work or everything will fail. Once you have that you can hang all the rest of the fun stuff around. The last second of the Season 1 finale revolves around that dollar.

For Salve, filmmaking has been as much a part of its development as writing software – and theme parks. “I started with my dad and my friends’ VHS camera,” Salve said. “I just knew that I would either end up making full-time movies and video games on the side, or vice versa.” And while Salve’s current software work at Unum isn’t exactly in video games, his love of theme parks sees him taking his family on frequent Disney vacations. Purely for research purposes, I’m sure.

After consulting with the Cormier family of Funtown in preparation for “Poseidon’s Gate,” Salve says the show’s park setting is teeming with potentially comedic conflict as part of its heroes’ awkward quest for solvency. And while Salve maintains that the Cormiers remain much more capable than their fictitious owners, the former Astrosphere operator assures me that he has more than enough ridiculous backstage stories to fill several seasons of “Poseidon’s Gate. “.

“The vast majority of people can relate to a theme park,” Salve said. “But nobody knows what’s going on an hour before the doors open, what kind of stuff is going on.” (Not to reveal anything, but Salve does mention everything from bomb threats to a stalled roller coaster to a kid getting his head stuck in a railing as a theoretical plot.)

Describing his vision of “Poseidon’s Gate” as “a” Superstore “in a theme park,” Salve hopes that a sufficient number of amusement park fans and quality Maine-made television will help him achieve his goal. dream.

“With the proof of concept, the idea was, like with ‘It’s always nice in Philadelphia,’ that an executive would see it and say, ‘Here’s a million dollars,’” Salve said with a laugh. But, for a low-budget, Maine-made web series, the crowdfunding goals Salve has set are within reach. Planning to shoot in the summer of 2022 at Palace Playland in Old Orchard Beach (whose open grounds require far less disruption and permissions), Salve is delighted to open – with the help of viewers – finally the Gates of the Country. beloved and distraught Maine vacation. his TV dreams.

You can read more about Nick Salve and “Poseidon’s Gate” at poseidonsgate.com. While you’re at it you can look at the initial, really promising proof of concept pilot and learn how to donate to the series’ Home Page.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.


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