True Love Story Laced with Intrigue
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Wendell and Grace Fountain made a movie based on their courtship.

Locally made film opens

By St. Augustine Record

Created 2010-01-24 00:09


A little thing like a tornado warning barely fazed Drs. Grace and Wendell Fountain as they awaited the opening of their movie, "Grazia," at Epic Theatres in St. Augustine.

Grace Mandicott Fountain's father used to call them dreamers, she said. But she didn't have any doubt he was up in heaven applauding their efforts as they held their premiere Thursday for the independent film that uses St. Augustine locales as the main backdrop.

"Can you believe it?" Grace asked when the tornado warning was mentioned.

Then she laughed.

What's a tornado to a pair of first-time movie makers?

For the Fountains, it's been a learning experience, including lessons in public relations, executive producing, crashing computers and even acting.

"It's been crisis beyond crisis, but we made it," Grace Fountain said. "We think that's a pretty good accomplishment."

Wendell Fountain ended up taking over the lead role and some of the directing from the man they originally contracted with. That wasn't such a stretch for Fountain, a business consultant who wrote the novel on which the movie is based. The hero of the story about love and second chances is a business consultant.

"He wanted to purse other things," Fountain said of Shannon Wofford, who was originally signed to star and direct. "He did good editing, and he did some great camera work."

Wofford wasn't at the premiere, but plenty of others were. The first showing at Epic Theatres on State Road 207 was nearly full with many of the viewers people who had parts in the movie or who knew someone who did.

The traditional actor's good luck wish ("Break a leg.") was on a lot of lips.

Fountain used St. Augustine as the main setting for his book, which also takes place in Charleston, Jacksonville and Italy.

It only made sense to him and his wife to do the filming on location. In order to keep production costs down, they filmed their "Italy" scenes in Jacksonville and at vineyards in Putnam County.

A home in Old Ortega in Jacksonville owned by Mike and Tricia Petroff, who co-produced the movie with the Fountains, ended up doubling for several locations.

"Charleston was the back door. Italy was the front door. And inside the garage is where the guys beat (Wendell) up," said Petroff, who is in the construction business.

He was excited that his special effects, handcrafted garage and antique cars were part of the movie.

Both the Petroffs ended up acting in the movie with Petroff playing the eccentric owner of a construction business.

Hardest thing for most of the new actors to remember was not to look at the camera when they finished a shot, Petroff said.

After an article in The St. Augustine Record last year about plans to film the movie, the couple was swamped with calls and would-be actors. They picked up several others at a casting call, and they asked friends to take part.

Female lead Tecla Dal Degan-Kindschi answered the casting call,

She had come up from Melbourne with her husband, Justin, and 4-year-old daughter, Kenya, to try out but wasn't expecting too much.

"I did some acting in school, but this is really my first movie," said Kindschi, a professional model.

When Wendell Fountain met her, he decided she was exactly right for the leading lady part.

Fountain thinks one reason the actors work is that for many they're "acting" the kind of jobs they do in real life - a doctor plays a doctor, a secretary plays a secretary.

Carey Anderson and his wife, Lisa Brackin, are "just the boat people." Their catamaran is part of the movie scenes and, said Anderson, it's "really for sale," just as in the movie.

The two were having a beer at A1A Brewery when they got to chatting with Fountain and found themselves and their boat in the movie.

Grace Fountain, who has a doctorate in health service management and is a former nurse practitioner and certified physician's assistant, played the role of an Italian doctor. She also ended up as executive producer for the production.

"Grazia" had a two-show limited engagement at Epic Theatres, but the Fountains have plans for more. They're looking at independent film festivals, and Epic officials have shown interest in showing the film again when the company opens a theater complex in Palm Coast in June.

"Epic has been extraordinary in helping us," Grace Fountain said.


Al and Karen Aldrich, Allison and Kelly Aldrich, Mike Corcoran, Eric Smith, Anthony Pfleger, Hilary Teisan, Missy Hall, Bobby Hall, Mike and Tricia Petroff, Angela Ninan, Steve Canfield, Jim Hughes, Jim Harsey, Ronnie Fountain, David Stevens Jr., Dr. George and Gretchen Woodward, Alex and Patrick Woodward, Dr. Mel Carbonell, Ellen Iselin, Besanya Santiago, Jennifer Johnson Dournaux, Grace McCullough, Jay Soderland, Carole and Tom Prior, Sam Stromberg, Lu Stuart, Mallory Rodriquez, Katie Watson.



Mickey and Peggy Mandicott, of Parsonage Street, Pittston, during their part in the filming of the movie Grazia.

Local tied to newly produced movie 'Grazia'

By Jack Smiles
Times Leader Staff Writer

Picture Mickey and Peggy Mandicott of Parsonage Street sitting at a table at the Tini Martini Bar at the Casablanca Inn on the Bay St. Augustine, Florida.

Nothing unusual about that. Lots of Pittstonians visit Florida. But Mickey and Peggy weren’t in Florida for a vacation. And they weren’t sitting at a table in the St. Augustine bar for the ambience or the drinks.

They were playing parts in a movie.

The movie Grazia is an independent film written, directed and starring Wendell Fountain, the husband of the Mandicott’s niece Grace Mandicott Fountain. Grace was Wendell’s inspiration for the movie and Grace played a part and sang one of the songs in the film.

Grace’s mother, 91-year old Angeline Mandicott is a Pittston native. She is an executive producer of Grazia and has a small part. Grace’s father, Dominick Mandicott, a D-Day veteran who died in 2008, was born and raised on Parsonage St. and had a shoemaker shop on Mill St before moving to Binghamton where Grace was raised.

Peggy said she told Grace she and Mickey were thinking about going down to see what making the movie was like and Grace told her they could have a part if they made the trip. They picked up Grace’s mother Angeline in Jacksonville on the way. “They didn’t even have time to get her they were so busy,” Peggy said of Wendell and Grace. “Our part was only a few seconds, but it was fun.”

She hasn’t yet seen the movie, but she says with a laugh, “I keep telling everybody I’ll see them at the Academy Awards.”

The movie is based on the novel “Grace” written by Fountain and published in 2002.

Fountain, who lives in Nevada where he is president and principal consultant of Fountain Associates, has also published one other novel, Love-40, a book of poetry, Rainbows from the Heart, and technical books on southwestern home building, education and credit unions.

In a phone interview Wendell said one of his motivations for turning his book into a movie came from the daughter of legendary singer/actor Dean Martin. After reading Deana Martin’s book “Memories are made of this” Wendell and Grace sent her a copy of “Grace.”

On Easter Sunday two years ago Deana Martin called Wendell out of the blue and said she liked the book so much it ought to be a movie.

Fountain made contact with Clint Eastwood’s agent and sent him a copy of the book. He seemed interested, but never followed through, so Fountain decided to attempt to produce a low-budget, independent film himself. Wendell and Grace co-wrote the screenplay. That much he knew how to do. He had written a screenplay of his first novel and tried to sell it in Hollywood. He also had a friend who had written screenplays and he used those as guides.

The only movie-making experience he had was with a few corporate training videos he was involved with. Luckily he knew a cameraman with technical experience who agreed to help him.

As the movie is set in Florida, that’s where they went to film it. For a cast the Fountains drew from friends and relatives, like the Mandicotts, and advertised a casting call in newspapers papers in the Melbourne area.

Tecla Dal Degan-Kindschi, a model whose only acting experience was in school plays, answered the casting call. Wendell describes the Italian immigrant as a Sophia Loren look-alike and said, “I knew she was the one as soon as I saw her.”

Grace, who has a doctorate in health service management, played the role of an Italian doctor.

Shooting took 22 days of 14 to 18 hours. St. Augustine, Florida is the primary setting, although, scenes were also shot in 40 venues/locations in Jacksonville, Palm Coast, and Putnam County, Florida where they recreated the Charleston and Italy scenes to keep production costs down.

A home owned by Mike and Tricia Petroff, who co-produced the movie with the Fountains, ended up doubling for several locations. As Mike Petroff put it, “Charleston was the back door. Italy was the front door.”

Wendell has 60 percent of the lines and did all the directing. The hardest part of the directing and the acting was shooting scenes out of the order they run in the film. “For efficiency we had to shoot the scenes by location and they were not in sequence. Some how Grace was able to coordinate that.”

Fountain said he’s only part of the story. “I didn’t feel just because I had the male lead I was most important.”

One of the things he said is most important is the original music which was composed by James Edward Holmes of Rooster Recording Studio in Jacksonville. Wendell had worked with Holmes, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the past when he was a music promoter and manager. Holmes was the Fountains’ best man.

Wendell, 65, said making the movie was hard work.

“It was hard physically and emotionally. During the filming it was hot, 80 to 90 everyday, with lots of humidity and we worked 22 days non-stop 14 hours a day. I’m surprised myself we pulled it off. We handled it. We had to handle it.”

The saddest part was the cutting. “Originally it was over two hours by 12 minutes. We had to cut some scenes and I really didn’t want to. We cut it down to 118 minutes. If we went any further it would have damaged the story,” Wendell said.

Grazia is a suspenseful love story based on a true story about second chances.

Once they had the movie in hand Wendell and Grace needed someplace to screen it. They approached a vice-president of Epic Theatres, a Florida chain with a house in St. Augustine.

As Grazia is the first love story to be filmed in St. Augustine, Epic was enthusiastic about it.

It premiered on Thursday, January 21 at Epic Theatres of St. Augustine and despite horrific weather conditions which included tornado warnings, hundreds poured into Epic Theatres to see the premiere. Reviews were all positive.

Grazia had a two-show limited engagement at Epic Theatres, but the Fountains have plans for more. They’re looking at independent film festivals, and Epic officials have shown interest in showing the film again when the company opens a theater complex in Palm Coast in June.

“We are looking for any theatrical distribution we can get,” Wendell said. “We’re trying to get into film festivals.” They expect to screen the film in Binghamton in the summer in a theater where Grace worked when she was in high school.

Wendell and Grace had one small investor, but financed the bulk of the cost themselves.

“It was very draining financially,” Wendell said. “You only go around once. What the heck. We made a lot of people happy. It was fun. We enjoyed it.”

Wendell and Grace met at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville in Florida, where both were graduate school professors. “I was very upset that day,” Grace said. “I missed my flight, but I flew to Jacksonville from Clearwater. At the age of 57, having just got home to Florida from Binghamton after my Mom had bypass surgery God brought Wendell, my angel, into my life when I least expected it . Our eyes met, it was love at first sight and neither of us believed that, but it happened.”

Grace likes to say she is the only woman in the world with a novel, movie, song and book of poetry written about her.



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