"The Morning Hour", inspired by Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour", was adapted to screenplay by Shevaun Kastl, who was compelled to make it into a short film. The screening took place at the legendary The Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California on September 24, 2013.
Kastl stars as Virginia Bakely, a woman whose life is completely shattered by the news her husband Carl (Brandon Barash, General Hospital) has died. Her brother-in-law Stan Bakely, played by Robert Knepper (Prison Break, Cult) delivers the the sad news. The film depicts Virginia's journey to the realization that life as she knows it is over. An emotionally charged 16 minutes in length, Kastl is brilliant in her interpretation of this classic piece as the audience is catapulted into Virginia's grief. We learn Virginia and Carl's back-story, how they met and get a glimpse into their relationship. Needless to say, nothing is as it seems. Kastl credits her mother for the inspiration to create the film and chose to set it in a theatre as a way of paying tribute to her parents, who met while on Broadway.
In a Q&A session led by Christie Lee Hughes after the screening, writer/producer Shevaun Kastl, director/producer Susan Cohen, Robert Knepper, Brandon Barash, and Alistair Sewell (Kastl's son Silus in the film) described why they became involved in this project.
With Kate Chopin being her favorite author, taking this classic piece and making it her own wasn't too difficult for Kastl. She described always being drawn to this particular story after hearing her mother gave up the lead in "Pippin'"on Broadway. Kastl questioned her mother's decision who answered that at the time she didn’t realize she was giving it up until it was too late. Kastl elaborated, "You don’t realize in the moment just the extent of the consequences in the choice you’re making. There are two parallel lines we walk in life and if I look in this direction, I might catch a glimpse of myself in twenty years. Twenty years of insight, wisdom and twenty years later having lived the life I still haven't lived now. I kind of wanted to bring that element to the screen as kind of a living piece of poetry, and because I grew up in theatre and I started there, I was most comfortable. I wanted to express that living fantasy, that shock of what "The Mourning Hour" is, it’s a space in time not defined by logic or reason, where basically truth and fantasy and delusion converge. It happens to us when we suffer great losses and we go there without conscious thought but it’s the process of reawakening and what it leads us back to which is truly a resurrection." At the time the film was shot, Kastl had never experienced a great loss. However, now reflects on it with a deeper connection to the film since her father suddenly passed earlier this year.
Director of the film Susan Cohen described she became involved in "The Mourning Hour" due to her love for stories that explore the human condition and human heart. "I don’t know anyone that hasn’t had a 'what if' question in their life, ie: what if I’d only done this differently? I think this film explores that. It's beautifully written and textured in a way that was exciting for me to be able to play with this fantasy layer and reality layer as well."
Brandon Barash is no stranger to playing a not-so-nice guy and he didn't disappoint! Carl is slick, with a suave veneer and flirty smile that definitely sweeps Virginia off her feet from their first meeting! Luck and I'd say fate, played a huge part in Barash's availability, who was in a contract role on General Hospital as Johnny Zacharra at the time he was cast. He explained he happened to be off for 2 weeks when the film was to be shot in Wisconsin, which allowed his schedule to work out. Another plus is the fact one of his favorite actors, Robert Knepper was involved so it wasn't too tough to accept the role. "Shevaun’s story is such a beautiful story, prolific especially transporting in time to 1950’s." He described Carl as "...kind of a son of a bitch, but in his mind everything makes sense." Barash added that so many women, but especially during that era, gave up who they were, what the wanted and dreamed of for their husbands, so it was fun to speak to that.
In an interesting development, Knepper who is usually cast as the bad guy, was pleasantly surprised when offered the part of the good guy in the film. He met Kastl when she guest starred on an episode of "Heroes" and offered use of his trailer after some issues with hers. He called "The Mourning Hour" "A great labor of love for all of us." Asked about other projects coming up, Knepper reported he will guest star on an episode of the new hit show "The Blacklist" with James Spader in October and has a new show on TNT called "Mob City" that will premiere December 4.
Alistair Sewell, who played Virginia's son Silus, was just thrilled to be a part of the film. He described it as a wonderful experience. "It was nice being close to such wonderful actors. I hope this is what I do when I grow up."
"The Mourning Hour" is a film that takes the audience into the not so distant past, allows us to not only see the life through the character's eyes, but experience it in a profoundly, deeply moving way. As we follow Virginia's journey, one can feel the touch of a first love, the hope for the future as a bride, the fierce bond as she becomes a mother and the pain as she learns the truth about her husband. The cast is phenomenal and Kastl shines as a woman who grapples with life and death and the question- what is the measure of a life?
This short film will be available on DVD and to learn more about the film, as well as watch the trailer, check out their website: The Mourning Hour
Follow on twitter: @TheMourningHour