Sci-fi movie ‘First Signal’ filmed in Orange to premiere at Garden Cinemas

  • Cedric Yonah, portrayed by Conor Timmis, prepares to leave the planet in “First Signal,” a movie partially filmed in Orange. It is set to have its world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on March 26. CONTIBUTED IMAGE STILL

  • MOVIE POSTER

  • The movie “First Signal” was partially filmed in Orange. In this image still, something is arriving, but you can’t see it … yet. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE STILL

  • Maj. Ellen Sampson, portrayed by Patience McStravick, faces a revelation in a scene from “First Signal,” a film partially shot in Orange. It is set to have its world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on March 26. CONTRIBUTED IMAGE STILL

  • The starring cast of “First Signal,” a film partially shot in Orange. It is set to have its world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on March 26. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Owner Isaac Mass behind the ticket counter at Greenfield Garden Cinemas, where “First Signal,” a movie partially filmed in Orange, will have its world premiere on March 26. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • The Garden Cinemas marquee on Main Street in Greenfield, where “First Signal,” a movie partially filmed in Orange, will have its world premiere on March 26. STAFF FILE PHOTO/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 3/14/2021 2:49:19 PM
Modified: 3/14/2021 2:49:18 PM

GREENFIELD — The town of Orange is heading to the silver screen.

“First Signal,” a science-fiction movie partially filmed in the North Quabbin municipality, is slated to have its world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on March 26, having been on the independent film festival circuit virtually. It will run for a week.

“Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, having a completed film, is an incredible feeling,” director and writer Mark Lund said. “The opportunity to have the film premiere in the same county it was filmed in is just an honor and just ... added icing on the cake.”

The film crew spent four scorchingly hot days (in the form of two weekends) in July 2019 shooting at the Orange Municipal Airport. Post-production lasted a year, which Lund said is pretty typical. The film lasts 1 hour and 42 minutes. Scenes were also filmed in Concord, N.H.

“First Signal” takes place in 2014 in Brussels, Belgium, and tells the tale of U.S. Air Force Space Command receiving a signal from an alien satellite orbiting Earth, and the fallout from this discovery. It is learned that extraterrestrials live on Earth, and the story takes off from there.

Isaac Mass, who has owned the Greenfield Garden Cinemas since November 2019, said he and Lund had been in talks about premiering the film before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and then “everything went crazy.” The two reconnected after Mass decided to reopen the theater, which has been closed since January.

“It’s time to get this on the big screen. We are super excited,” Mass said this week, adding that this will be his first world premiere, excluding student films and community television projects. “It is great to see local talent featured on our screen. It is great to see local landscapes that people recognize on the big screen and it really brings a sense of community.”

Mass said the first showing will begin at 7 p.m. and another will follow at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available at gardencinemas.net.

Lund, 55, said the film focuses on how society deals with understanding that aliens live here, but not knowing who they are and what they want.

“It builds off of the whole fear of, ‘What are we going to do with these whatever-they-are?’” he said.

Lund, a Worcester resident, said “First Signal” partially serves as a metaphor for the immigration debate. This revelation surprised even him.

“That’s one of the great things about storytelling,” he said, adding that there are often unintended subliminal messages that lie beneath the surface. Those messages must have resonated with someone, because “First Signal” was entered in 27 film festivals and won awards in 16 of them.

This is Lund’s second feature film, having previously written and directed the science-fiction film “Justice is Mind,” about MRIs in the future that can read patients’ long-term memories. Lund has worked in the entertainment industry for decades, including as a screenwriter, producer and actor, playing a Nazi officer in 2018’s “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot,” which was filmed in Montague.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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