News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Local filmmakers win movie awards

In 2019 Nathan and Emily Woodworth, both award-winning actors and writers, finished crafting a short film that honored absurd ideas and themes that were hugely influenced by Monty Python. The brother-sister team from Sisters recently won three awards for their surreal comedy, “The Purse: A Dream In Two Acts,” from Maverick Movie Awards, one of the most widely respected film competitions in the world.

Nathan said, “We are incredibly honored to have had our film win Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress in addition to the Best Picture nomination.”

The anonymous judges of the Maverick Movie Awards must have either made a feature film that had a theatrical release and was accepted into a major festival, hold an advanced degree in film theory, or have been part of the selection committee for a top-10 film festival. Each film must go through three rounds of blind judging in order to be nominated or win.

Woodworth added, “This is a big accomplishment for our little surrealist-comedy film. We weren’t sure if people would connect with it, let alone love it enough to nominate it for awards. We have been pitching it as ‘David Lynch meets Monty Python.’”

The initial inspiration for the film came from the Woodworth’s favorite novel, “The Third Policeman,” by Flann O’Brien.

“It reads as something that could have been written by Monty Python,” Nathan explained. “The dialogue is in exalted prose, almost poetic, and totally absurd. It also includes detailed footnotes that become their own side story.”

The Woodworths’ movie was filmed in Sisters Elementary School, their uncle’s apartment in Sisters, and the Deschutes National Forest.

In the film, Jackie has just escaped from prison, and as a disguise is dressed in his sibling’s clothes, armed with a purse. He confronts his sister Jill about their hidden loot, which she has buried somewhere in the forests of Oregon. Meanwhile, Tom P. Bellbottoms shoots a documentary about the eccentric inventor of the purse.

Nathan noted, “The other main character in The Purse was played by Wayne Newcome, an actor originally from San Francisco, who I’ve worked with in multiple theatre productions at Volcanic Theatre Pub in Bend. We wrote the part that he plays in The Purse specifically for him. He plays Selby O’Nolan, the man who invented the purse to be used as a militarized weapon by the U.S. forces in World War I. The other young man in the film is our cousin Spencer Bordonaro. His friend David Novotny was an extra — obviously the most important role.

“The language in the first half of our film is basically prose poetry. In the second half, we suddenly transition to an absurd Monty-Python-inspired mockumentary which has nothing to do with the first half of the film other than that purses are a primary object used in both.”

The talented duo also drew inspiration from Sisters musician and songwriter Slater Smith and his band The Weather Machine.

Nathan added, “We find Slater to be an outstanding poet, and his lyrics have inspired our projects on more than one occasion.”

The Woodworths grew up in Sisters, and by 9 years old Nathan was bitten hard by the acting bug after watching Jim Carrey in a movie.

“I couldn’t believe the freedom this guy was allowed to have simply because he was in front of a camera,” he said.

By 12, Nathan was doing standup comedy any time and place he had the chance.

The brother-sister team have been making films for fun after hijacking the family video camera that their dad bought in the 1980s.

“In high school, we got a camcorder and started a YouTube channel and would get together with our friends and create sketch-comedy videos emulating Monty Python to the best of our abilities,” Woodworth said.

Nathan has spent 16 years doing stand-up comedy all along the West Coast and two years training in improv and sketch comedy through The Groundlings Theatre & School and The Second City.

Emily, a dancer at Sisters Dance Academy since its beginning, graduated from Pacific University with a degree in creative writing and minor in editing and publishing.

“Emily is an amazing human being, so driven and focused. It was pure joy working with her in many dance classes through the early years of the Sisters Dance Academy,” said Lonnie Liddell, Sisters Dance Academy founder.

Emily is now writing a novel as her thesis at California Institute of Arts, where she is finishing up her Master of Fine Arts degree in writing on a Lillian Disney scholarship.

At one point the Woodworths both worked at Sisters Coffee Company and saw great potential for a sketch-comedy series there. Filling orders while dealing with strange customers and bizarre situations led them to create a humorous web series in 2014 filmed entirely at Sisters Coffee Company.

Nathan said, “We pitched our idea for the series to our professional cinematographer friend, Sam Pyke, and the result was ‘The Barista Times,’ which is available on YouTube.”

The second installment of their series was filmed in 2017 at Palate A Coffee Bar in Bend.

He added, “We are releasing our second season, so be sure to check it out at Second Season.”

He also noted, “We are currently preparing for our first feature-length film, called ‘In the Meantime.’ It’s about a man named Danny who is building a time machine in his basement with the help of his imaginary friend, Lenny. We plan to begin shooting in late August/early September in Sisters, so everyone can stay tuned for that.”

To receive updates on “In the Meantime,” visit Updates on "In the Meantime".


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