Homegrown movie ‘Sidewalk Wars’ premieres tonight in Port Angeles theater

PORT ANGELES — Leo Bidne and Tonya Rice, neighbors on the west side of town, are astonished.

A small video project “turned into this monster that I created,” Bidne said.

“I’m amazed at how talented my kids are,” Rice added.

Her offspring — Charli, 12, Sam, 10, and Daniel, 14 — are co-stars of “Sidewalk Wars,” the “Star Wars”-inspired fan film premiering in the Little Theater at Peninsula College tonight (Friday).

Admission to the 7:30 p.m. screening is free.

Doors will open at 7 p.m. in the theater at the center of the campus at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.

Bidne, a longtime staffer at Strait Music who’s gotten into videography, shot his picture in high-definition video and will show it on Blu-ray for maximum impact.

It’s the product of two years of work with local actors, several of which live next door to him.

The story is of a small band of rebel youths — sometimes wielding light sabers a la “Star Wars” — seeking to protect a precious artifact from an evil emperor.

The youngest cast member is Bidne’s granddaughter, Annella Smith, aka Annie.

She turned 3 during filming and is now 5.

One of the few adults is Annie’s dad, Jeremiah Smith.

He portrays the evil emperor, a role Bidne said is nothing like the real-life guy.

Sam Perkins, also a Strait Music staffer, and Curry Winborn, a Port Angeles High School senior, are also part of the cast.

“It’s sort of an old-fashioned ‘Star Wars,’” said Bidne, adding that with copyright law being what it is, he can make a “fan film” but cannot legally make any money off screening it.

So Bidne is inviting everyone who enjoys a good, old-fashioned science fiction story to join him — and dress in “Star Wars” attire if they’re so inclined.

“The whole thing was shot in and around [Port Angeles], so there will be some landmarks people might recognize,” he added.

“It’s almost an animation movie,” with special effects, costumes and props from JoAnn Fabrics and Goodwill.

Bidne also makes an exceedingly brief appearance.

“I do an Alfred Hitchcock,” he said, referring to that director’s practice of slipping into his movie for a fleeting moment.

Bidne wrote the “Sidewalk Wars” script some years ago, then did about 14 drafts to whip it into shape.

This picture is for all ages, and if it were rated, it would be “pretty G,” Bidne believes.

“I just wanted to put the kids in it. They did a great job,” he said, adding that the youngsters have all “grown a foot” since he finished filming.

Bidne, 57, encourages other would-be filmmakers to take up their digital video cameras and laptop computers, to shoot and edit their own cinematic epics.

“There’s never been a better time to do this,” he said.

And to Bidne, fancy special effects are far from the main attraction.

“Pay attention to the story,” he said.

“That’s the most important thing of all.”

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

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