Indie Film: Summers working at Funtown inspire web series

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

“Starting in high school, I worked for Funtown,” the Gorham filmmaker said of his time at Saco Amusement Park and the Maine Summer Establishment. “I actually spent eight summers there between high school and college. I started as a kiddie ride operator, worked my way up through the Astrosphere, then moved into administration/management.

This time in the tourist surroundings of a bustling Maine amusement park is the basis for “Poseidon’s Gate,” an 11-episode web series about the comedic and chaotic workings of a slightly dysfunctional Maine amusement park. Currently in pre-production, and with an attractive Kickstarter Campaign on the way to donors, “Poseidon’s Gate” represents software engineer Salve’s longtime love affair with the world of roller coasters, cotton candy, and the occasional mishap resulting from mixing cotton candy and roller coasters.

“I met my wife because of Funtown, and my whole circle of friends,” said Salve, who also dropped the staggering truth bombshell (to me, at least) that he actually ran the fabled Astrosphere. from FunTown. For those not in the know, the Astrosphere took the Scrambler’s trusty carnival ride, encased it in a dome (first vinyl, now concrete), and turned off the lights, exploding” ELO’s Fire On High” during a laser light show (with really banana images) flash on the dome around you. I first encountered this revolutionary feat of Maine-made psychedelic carny fun when I was a kid and remain in awe of its trippy, heart-shattering brilliance to this day. But I digress.

“Poseidon’s Gate” uses all of Salve’s intimate knowledge of theme parks 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 hand over the park. barely solvent resident to starving developers. “The park is literally their life,” Salve said of siblings Hunter and Celler. “They grew up rich and never had to accomplish anything, and consider the Gate of Poseidon the only thing they know how to do.”

Salve worked on “Poseidon’s Gate” as obsessively as Hunter and Celler in order to save the park. Make a “proof of concept” pilot for “Poseidon’s Gate” (which you can watch free online) in 2016, Salve has been honing his story and skills ever since. “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 some rough edges. “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” feature prominently in documentary-style comedy action, and aside from a few establishing 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 perfectly secured for it all, with acting and a more-than-capable cast of Maine actors churning out 19 minutes. always fun TV shenanigans.

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

Explaining that, unlike the pilot from a long time ago, Hunter and Celler are now the central figures of the series, Salve said, “The deal Hunter and Celler make with their parents is that the park has a year to make a profit of one dollar. You need this 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 last episode of season 1 revolves around this dollar.

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

After consulting with Funtown’s Cormier family in preparation for “Poseidon’s Gate,” Salve says the show’s park is ripe with potentially comedic conflict as part of its heroes’ clumsy quest for solvency. And while Salve argues that the Cormiers remain far more capable than his fictional owners, the former Astrosphere operator assures me he has more than enough ridiculous behind-the-scenes stories to fill several seasons of “Poseidon’s Gate.” “.

“The vast majority of people can identify with a theme park,” Salve said. “But nobody knows what happens an hour before the doors open, what kind of things happen.” (To keep it quiet, but Salve mentions everything from bomb threats to a jammed roller coaster to a child getting his head stuck in a railing as theoretical plots.)

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

“With the proof of concept, the idea was, like with ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’, that an executive would see it and say, ‘Here’s a million dollars,'” laughed Salve. But, for a modestly-budgeted web series, made in Maine, the crowdfunding goals Salve has set itself are within reach. Planning to film in the summer of 2022 at Old Orchard Beach’s Palace Playland (whose open grounds require far less disruption and permits), Salve is thrilled – with the help of viewers – to finally open the property’s doors. -loved, depressed Maine vacation country of his television dreams.

You can find out 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 during the series Home Page.

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


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