New Richmond High School students were given a wakeup call Nov. 30 when they watched the world premiere of "Forever," a movie filmed in New Richmond with local actors.
The film, which shows local youth what could happen when they chose to drink and drive, was meant to have a major impact on the student body by portraying their peers in a very realistic drunken driving accident.
Juniors Vicky Talmage, Heather Halvorsen and Bailey Davison were all part of the film.
"We're the good kids," Davison said. "We make the good decisions."
The majority of the cast - including all of the main characters - are members of S.A.F.E. Youth (Supporting an Alcohol Free Environment for our Youth). The group spent four days filming the movie this summer and got their first chance to view it a few weeks ago.
"We watched every scene as it was being shot, except for the accident scene," Davison said. "Seeing it all together was really neat. It's really good."
The accident scene, which involved two vehicles and a slew of law enforcement and emergency responders, was shot in one take and without a script, she said.
During the filming, paramedics and other personnel were impressed with the students' acting, Davison said.
"One of the girls was screaming and covered in blood and the paramedics said that her reaction was very real. It's exactly how someone would've reacted in that situation," she said.
Talmage said it was hard to watch the movie because some of the students are good friends in real life.
"It was really emotional," Halvorsen said. "We basically watched one of our friends die. It was a movie but it felt real. I couldn't talk to the guy who played the driver (Alec Knox) for like a week."
The entire school viewed the movie on Nov. 30.
"We really hope people connect it to their friends," Halvorsen said.
"The message is the most important thing," Talmage said.
To add to the day's ambience and the impact of the movie, the students involved in the "accident" were excused from the school day and other students in the film were asked to leave the building during the showing so that students would focus on the film itself and not the characters in it.
Jeff Moberg, high school principal, said the students and community members really deserved a round of applause for their effort.
"This film was made to get you guys to spend some time thinking about decisions and consequences - consequences that are irreversible," he told the students. "We hope you think about the consequences of your actions and put yourselves in the position of the actors in the film."
"The imagery is extremely intense and realistic," he said.
During the viewing, especially during the accident scene, several students needed to leave the room.
After the film, Drew Durham, junior, said the film carried a powerful message.
"I think it had an even deeper impact because it was people we all knew," he said.
Junior Summer Constant agreed.
"It was a bit overwhelming because of that," she said.
Bethany Haag, sophomore, said she was surprised at the amount of blood in the film.
"I almost cried and I wasn't even close to anyone in it," said Shania Lindoo, sophomore.
The public is invited to two upcoming showings of the hour-long movie. The first showing is Wednesday, Dec. 7, and the second is on Sunday, Dec. 11. Both showings will be at 7 p.m.
Copies of the film on DVD will be available for $20. All proceeds will go toward the S.A.F.E. Youth program.
For more information, contact Jeff Swanson at 715-243-7453, Debbie Swanson at 715-243-1798 or Police Chief Mark Samelstad at 715-243-0419.
To see trailers of the film, visit our website at www.newrichmond-news.com.