Film Notes: Director Makes a Departure With Hallmark Movie

  • Dustin Rikert checks the makeup of zombie extra Janel Poulin, of Randolph, Vt., during a lunch break in the filming of his zombie movie in Royalton, Vt., on Oct. 6, 2010. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 3/30/2018 12:04:57 AM
Modified: 3/30/2018 12:05:08 AM

If you call the Antiqued Inn Time bed & breakfast in South Royalton on Saturday night, don’t count on co-proprietor Gerrie Rikert to answer the phone.

Starting at 9, she’ll most likely be watching the Hallmark Channel’s premiere of its new romance movie, Home by Spring, which her son Dustin produced this year.

“In my mom’s eyes, you’d think I finally arrived,” Dustin Rikert said with a laugh over the phone on Monday, while driving from Arizona to Los Angeles to deliver the final cut of the movie. “I’ve done all these other things over the last 18 years, but because she and my father watch a lot of Hallmark movies, this is the real deal for them.”

To put it politely, Home by Spring marks a u-turn from the contemporary Westerns and occasional horror films in which Rikert’s independent Team Two production company specializes. In 2010, Rikert directed Team Two’s zombie-stoner spoof Dug Up around the Upper Valley, including some scenes at his parents’ B&B. It took another six years for the distributor to release the flick to Comcast on Demand.

Home by Spring came together a lot quicker.

Late in 2016, “we pitched concepts for them, and they picked this one to develop and turn into a movie,” Rikert said. “They do about 90 a year, and it’s a tough company to get into.”

After about a year of work on the script, “they told us this past Jan. 4 that we were green-lit,” Rikert said. “We were filming on Feb. 5, and we’re just now putting the finishing touches for Saturday’s premiere.

“That is as quick as I’ve had to do any movie,” Rikert said. “You have to have your ducks in a row.”

The movie stars British actress Poppy Drayton (whose credits include Downton Abbey and the soon-to-be live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid) as an ambitious event planner who re-encounters an old flame (Steve McQueen’s grandson Steven R. McQueen, a hearthrob from the Vampire Diaries series) on a return to her hometown.

“It’s a departure in theme for us, but it’s a brand that really works for Hallmark,” Rikert said. “they’ve got a juggernaut there. Especially in these perilous times when we’re so divided, their programming is something that families and women really aspire to. It’s like comfort viewing.”

The supporting cast includes Kix Brooks and William Shockley, longtime partners of Rikert’s who have written scripts and music and produced for Team Two films, as well as acted in them. In addition to finishing Home by Spring, they’re starting to film another Western. In 2017, they completed You’re Gonna Miss Me, a dramedy starring Eric Roberts and former Dukes of Hazzard co-star John Schneider in which the children of a former country-music star go on a road trip to collect their inheritance.

“We’ve hit a real good lick here lately,” Rikert said. “We’ve been hitting on all cylinders. Kix knows I used to play baseball, and he always says, ‘You know: You’ve just got to stay at the plate, and good things happen.’ ”

Home by Spring premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday night at 9, and runs again on Sunday night at 7.

Road Show

While tickets long ago sold out for cellist Yo Yo Ma’s concert with his Silkroad Ensemble next Thursday at the Hopkins Center, you can see and hear what all the fuss is about on Monday night at 7:30, when the Hop will screen Morgan Neville’s 2015 documentary The Music of Strangers at Loew Auditorium in Hanover. Members of the ensemble will take part in a discussion after the film. For tickets ($5 to $8) and more information, visit or call 603-646-2422.

On the House

Cine Salon’s series on the theme of “Inhabitants” returns to the Howe Library in Hanover on Monday night, with the screening of a two-hour selection of experimental European movies from the Paris-based Lobster Films. Co-curated by Serge Bromberg and Cine Salon founder Bruce Posner, Avant-Gardes samples works of Castleton Knight, Wheaton Galentine, Max Reichman, Jim Davis, John Arvonio, José Antonio Sistiaga, Marcel L’Herbier, Dziga Vertov and Hans Richter.

The free screening starts at 7 in the library’s Mayer Room. To learn more, visit

Pentangle Arts’ series of free movies in Woodstock’s Town Hall Theatre resumes on Thursday night with a 7:30 screening of the original Ocean’s 11, the 1960 casino-robbery caper starring Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford.

Subsequent screenings in the series include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, on May 3 and Being There, on June 7. While admission is free, donations are welcome.

If you haven’t already seen one of the Mascoma Film Society’s free screenings in the gorgeous new auditorium at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in West Canaan, make a point of catching at least one of the movies scheduled for the homestretch of the spring series. Next Friday night at 6:30 p.m., they’re showing Trip to Spain, the latest faux-documentary featuring British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon sampling the scenic and gustatory pleasures of Europe.

And on April 11 at 6:30 p.m., there’s another chance to catch Salt of the Earth, the simultaneously appalling and hopeful documentary about photographer Sebastiao Salgado’s efforts to expose and ease, if not solve, poverty and environmental degradation.

Series of Fortunate Events

It happens every spring: The Woodstock Vermont Film Festival winds down at the Billings Farm and Museum’s cozy theater, and my wife, Goodie, and I lament the loss, for six months, of an option to catch compelling movies we either missed during their first Upper Valley run on big screens or want to see again.

So imagine our relief, while watching previews before last Saturday’s festival offering, to see a listing of five films that the museum will show this spring and summer. The new series begins on May 18 and 19, with 6 p.m. screenings of Ex Libris, Frederick Wiseman’s documentary about New York City’s system of public libraries.

Next in line are 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. screenings of the Vermont documentary Peter and the Farm on June 30; of the documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story on July 28; of Menashe, a drama in Yiddish about a widower in Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community fighting for custody of his son, on Aug. 11; and of California Typewriter, the 2016 documentary about a collegial cult of stubbornly analog communicators that includes actor Tom Hanks, singer-songwriter John Mayer, historian David McCullough and the late actor/writer Sam Shepard, on Sept. 27.

The winter festival finale at Billings Farm, by the way, is on April 7, with screenings of the documentary Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing at 3 and 5:30 p.m. For tickets ($6 to $11) and more information, visit or call 802-457-2355.

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304.

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