Promotional material for "The Skeptic," a film written and directed by Ballston Spa resident Tennyson Bardwell and filmed locally, including scenes at Saratoga Springs' Batcheller Mansion. The film premieres Friday at the Spectrum 8 Theater in Albany. Actress Zoe Saldana can also be seen in the upcoming "Star Trek" reboot. (Image provided)
SARATOGA SPRINGS — "The Skeptic," a film written and directed by a Ballston Spa resident and filmed in Saratoga Springs, will be premiered locally Friday at the Spectrum Theater in Albany.
The film is writer/director Tennyson Bardwell’s second effort. His first, "Dorian Blues," was a heartfelt story of a teenage boy coming of age and coming to terms with his sexuality.
"The Skeptic" is a much different film. It is billed as a supernatural thriller, but Bardwell sees it as more than that. The twists and turns of the plot "can be explained all psychologically or all supernaturally," he explained, and the distinction is up to the audience to make.
The story centers on a lawyer, played by Tim Daly of "Private Practice," who moves into his deceased aunt’s reportedly haunted Victorian mansion.
The mansion will look familiar to locals — it is the Batcheller Mansion on Circular Street. Bardwell also shot portions of the film at the Olde Bryan Inn, the city Court House, the Union Gables Bed and Breakfast and Union College.
Tom Arnold and Zoe Saldana also star in the film.
Throughout the movie, Daly’s character, a skeptic of all things supernatural, resists acknowledging what others might consider signs of haunting until they become impossible to ignore.
"He learns to leave open his mind to the possibility that he’s wrong or others are right or he doesn’t know," Bardwell said.
In the end, Bardwell said he intends for viewers to make up their own minds about whether the mansion is haunted or not. "At the end, you’re never conclusively given the absolute evidence of what something means," he said.
The film is "holding a mirror up the audience and saying ‘what do you believe in?’ " Bardwell said.
The film takes place in a town much like Saratoga Springs, he said, so shooting here was a natural fit. "The film is very much rooted here," he said.
Bardwell added that the city was very welcoming to the cast and crew.
"The people and the authorities were so helpful in the process that we had no problems getting extras or clearances," he said.
"All the actors that came in were very much impressed with the town," Bardwell said. He said that Daly and fellow actor Ed Herrmann especially enjoyed dining at the Olde Bryan Inn. They "thought it was a beautiful town and a great place to make movies," he said.
The film will show at 6:40 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany. Bardwell, producer Mary-Beth Taylor and editor/associate producer Ann Marie Lizzi will hold a question and answer session following both showings.
The film also became available April 29 on local cable providers' On Demand services via "IFC Films in Theaters."
Bardwell said he is currently working on a romantic comedy called "June Wedding," which will likely also be shot in Saratoga Springs.
"I find it a great area for working and making films and writing," he said. "Any story I have to tell fits with the surroundings of my upbringing, which is the whole Capital District."