When Dante D’Amore first heard the story of Rebecca and Abigail Bates, he was mesmerized.
“I thought about the courage the sisters displayed in using only their talent and wit to outsmart the British Royal Navy, and I felt compelled and inspired to bring their story to the big screen.”
Originally from the South Shore, D’Amore is the writer / director of the film “The Lighthouse Keepers”, based on the story of the Bates sisters.
He sees the legend of “Army of Two” as a story of hope, perseverance and survival, he said.
It was while renting a house on Egypt Beach in Scituate that D’Amore first heard Rebecca and Abigail’s story.
Legend has it that in September 1814, as lighthouse keeper Simeon Bates and his wife Rachel made their way to town, two of their nine children, daughters Rebecca and Abigail, remained behind to take care of their duties at the lighthouse. .
The sisters noticed a British frigate, HMS La Hogue, as it anchored outside Scituate harbor and saw British soldiers start rowing towards shore.
Rather than attempting to shoot the soldiers with a musket, the sisters took their drum and fife, hid among the cedars near the lighthouse, and played their instruments louder and louder to create the illusion that ‘an American militia was gathering.
It is believed that the sisters’ efforts were successful in bringing the British back to their ship.
“As a filmmaker, that really stuck in my mind,” D’Amore said. “It always seemed to me that I had such an important historical goal. Here are these two young heroines – what were they thinking and feeling when they decided to hold on instead of running? “
Bring history to life
D’Amore has teamed up with writer Ted Omo, who is good at historical writing, to bring the Bates family story to the screen.
“We’ve had seven rewrites,” D’Amore said. “We really wanted to fine-tune this. Having an actual story to base things on really helped.
The film, which runs just over half an hour, was independently funded and produced by James Grandmont of Little Lion Productions. Michael Paul is the cinematographer for the film.
Following:Scituate woman feels a connection to the former home of the Bates sisters
The cast is made up of professional Massachusetts actors including Michele Proude, who plays Rachel Bates, and Michael Maggiani, who plays the antagonist, both from the South Shore.
Young actresses Lily Ayotte and Kayla Caulfield play Rebecca and Abigail Bates. David Pridemore plays Simeon Bates. The other central characters are played by actors Tony Ionno, Paul Taft, Paul Kandarian and Carly Consoletti.
Trying to keep the period relevant has been a big challenge with the film, D’Amore said.
“The wardrobe was a bit taxing. Fortunately, we found a costume company in Waltham that has a large inventory of theatrical clothing. “
Location, location, location
Creating a film with historic integrity was of the utmost importance to D’Amore. He consulted historian Bob Chessia in Scituate for additional information on the Bates sisters.
The plan was to film in relevant locations around Scituate, such as Scituate Light.
“But when I spotted the site, the area around the lighthouse was much more modern in appearance and was not really conducive to the dramatic historical purpose of the film,” D’Amore said.
Filming at the Bates House, located at the intersection of Jericho and Beaver Dam Roads, also did not match the historic nature of the film due to the yellow paint on the house, noise from traffic and modern boats. which are visible in the harbor behind the house.
Instead, D’Amore contacted the Historical Societies of Duxbury, Marshfield and Plymouth for site suggestions for film shoots.
“We used the Winslow House and the Daniel Webster Estate in Marshfield,” he said. “We used Gurnett’s lighthouse in Duxbury. The distance was very conducive to what I was looking for. We filmed our antagonistic scene at the King Caesar House, also in Duxbury. It’s just a beautiful house.
They also shot scenes of boats in Duxbury Harbor.
“We’re hoping to get pictures of a ship somewhere in Boston or Mystic, Connecticut.”
D’Amore edited the film himself, as well as the musical score.
“I have a fife player, which should really add to the vibe of the movie.”
The project is to distribute the film in public libraries and schools, in addition to making the circuit of film festivals.
“Once it gains popularity, we will contact other sites, such as PBS and Netflix,” he said.
He hopes to release the film before Christmas and would like to have a screening in Scituate.
“I really felt compelled to make this movie,” D’Amore said. “I felt the story of these two brave young women really needed to be told.”
For more information and updates on the Lighthouse Keepers movie, go to Facebook and search @ 1812Musket.
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth