After hitting Netflix, Amazon, Walmart, and an eight city tour, the Regent University film, “In-Lawfully Yours,” made a final stop, for 2016, where it all began. Neighbors in Cape Charles gathered to feast their eyes on a film that includes several scenes from the small, seaport town. It was the final showing of Regent’s School of Communication & The Arts (SCA) first feature film.
“They came down this main street, and it looked exactly like the town we had written about,” said Sean Gaffney, SCA assistant professor, and “In-Lawfully Yours” writer. “It had the perfect feel for what we were hoping for Naomi’s hometown.”
Gaffney didn’t scout locations for the film, but he agrees the theater where the movie’s main characters met for their first date would be the perfect place for the last showing of the romance comedy. He describes the sensation as surreal and says the film belongs to the neighbors in Cape Charles.
“Did you hear the crowds in there? Every time they saw anything with Cape Charles, they erupt. This is a powerful place. It’s the people. It’s the vibration.”
Sue Anglim, Arts Enter executive director, describes the theater as having a pulse, which she says is the community. More than 300 people packed the audience Saturday, December 3. Volunteers popped popcorn, sold snacks, and showed visitors to their seats. It’s their labor of love for a community they care for. After restoration work, these men and women have made the Palace Theater a center staple on Mason Street.
“Within this year, they’ve opened this up as a theater, and they have brought some really great, heartwarming movies here, and you have a mixture of adults and children, people clapping at the end of the movie,” said Jennifer Corcoran, Palace Theatre volunteer and Cape Charles resident.
“In-Lawfully Yours” received such a reception. Both Dr. Mitch Land, SCA dean, and actor Corbin Bernsen whose production company, Home Theater Films, worked with Regent to produce the film, greeted guests on stage. After the movie, some of the cast and crew fielded questions. Bernsen told the crowd he loved filming in Cape Charles and will consider it a location for future films.
“We are so honored Regent would select this area and make this a location for this film,” said Bill Parr, real estate broker. “It has been a privilege to have that, and we hope we’re going to be able to do more of it. We’re really trying to engage with Regent and encourage them and find ways to do another movie project, or maybe a few. The town is well-suited for these kinds of projects, and we’d love to have them do more.”
The Virginia Film Office makes many film projects possible. Its director, Andy Edmunds, works to bring movies, TV shows, and commercials to Virginia. “In-Lawfully Yours” was the biggest project collaboration between his office and Regent, and he considers Cape Charles to be a special location, making it a second home after he discovered it while scouting for movie locations in 2003 for “Mission Impossible III.”
“As I was scouting for a place for Tom Cruise to live during filming, I fell upon Cape Charles and said, ‘This is an amazing town!'” said Edmunds. “So, I knew cinematically that this would be a place that would draw filmmakers for other projects, and it drew me here to find a second home. I love this little town, it’s a great Virginia location, and I do whatever I can to bring work down to this part of the state.”
Gaffney, Bernsen, and Edmunds hinted future films will be in the works. Virginia has 32 colleges and universities that offer film and media programs. With a full feature-film under their belt, and its collaboration with the Virginia Film Office, Corbin Bernsen, Home Theater Films, SCA students are making the best of their experiences and enjoying the dynamic movie-making experience Regent offers.
The Cape Charles screening was the final of nine which traveled around the United States. Regent brought the film to California, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. In some showings, local churches like Cornerstone Church in Nashville, Tennessee, and Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, California, housed the crowds of movie-goers. Cornerstone Television Network screened the movie to Pittsburgh-area viewers.