The recently released independent film, Angel’s Perch, was undoubtedly a labor of love for J.T. Arbogast and his wife, Kimberly Dilts. Produced in affiliation with the West Virginia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, it is loosely based on Arbogast’s family; his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004.
A charming little spot about 180 miles east of Charleston near the West Virginia/Virginia border, provides a lovely backdrop for the story. Cass was a booming mill town in the early 1900’s, and at its peak, West Virginia Pulp and Paper employed 3,000 and turned out 1.5 million feet of lumber per week. The mill shut down in 1925, and attempts to return it to its once thriving status failed.
Arbogast’s family ties to the area are strong. When industry died its final death, his grandparents figured prominently in a movement to bring Cass into the West Virginia state park system. In 1961, a bill was passed to do just that.
Today, tourists regularly visit Cass Scenic Railroad State Park to ride the historic steam railroad. In an example of “what a small world,” we actually took my mom to Cass one autumn a few years before Alzheimer’s set in. I’ve often thought how glad I am we did that while she could still enjoy it.
Angel’s Perch introduces us to the fictional character, Jack, a successful architect living in Pittsburgh. After his grandmother is found wandering, he returns to Cass to move her into an assisted living facility; however, the trip – and life – become more complicated than expected. According to the film’s official press release, “Torn between the career opportunity of a lifetime, caring for his last living relative, and running from his own painful memories, Jack is forced to choose between standing still or facing the pain of his past, so that he can finally move forward in his life.”
“It’s hard to find someone who has not been touched by this disease [Alzheimer’s] in some way. While statistics can inform our audience, film has the power to inspire, and we believe our film will raise awareness, bring comfort to families struggling with this disease, and transport the audience to a place of real beauty and warmth,” Arbogast says.
The making of the film is a nod to the power of grassroots community involvement; it all began as a Kickstarter project where the couple raised their first $25,000. Now the filmmakers are planning a 30-city screening blitz made possible by distribution partner, Tugg.com. Tugg is an example of “theater-on-demand,” a relatively new concept that allows audiences to bring indie films to their local theaters if they can meet a specific threshold of tickets sold.
We will host a screening in Columbus, Ohio, the evening of August 14; tickets must be reserved online by August 7. If anyone is in the area and would like more information, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Likewise, if you are interested in learning more about how to bring Angel’s Perch to your city, let me know and I can help you start the process.
J.T. Arbogast is a Los Angeles-based writer, actor, and producer with a number of stage, film, and television credits. Prior to his arrival in LA, he spent four years as the Associate Director of the critically acclaimed National Comedy Theatre in New York, of which he was also an original cast member.
Kimberly Dilts is a producing artist who works as an actor, director, choreographer, writer, and teacher. She has a number of stage and television credits, and enjoys voicing Anime. She also served as Director of Operations for The Haitian Education and Leadership Program for several years.