Standing to the side of Highway 50 heading out of town towards Reno, Dutch Marich gazed at his hometown. The Ely native described the town as having a “sliver of other-worldliness” with its surrounding mountains and isolation from major cities.
It’s that intangible quality that lured him back to Ely to shoot portions of his new independent film, a noir-mystery-thriller with the working title “The Dark Hand.”
“I’m kind of fascinated with small towns. All my work has incorporated them in some way,” Marich said.
As part of a two-day pre-production trip to scout locations for his latest film, Marich and his Director of Photography Miguel Ordaz scoured the town looking for cinematic backdrops. In the film, Ely will figure into the plot as a fictional small town known as “Prescott, Nevada.”
The story’s protagonist Max, is led to the “mythical” town after a series of clues leads him from Los Angeles to Prescott in search of his missing brother. Max’s search for his missing brother will even lead him to several recognizable local businesses, including the Ely Central Theater and Grand Central Motel.
According to Ordaz, who had never been to Ely before, the town’s natural beauty and history will make his job of setting up shots and lighting them that much more fun.
“Dutch had described this place to me when I came on board to shoot the film. He showed me pictures of the area, but actually being here, pictures do not do it justice,” Ordaz said. “The one thing I’ve taken away from our trip here is that this is a very photogenic town and it’s going to make our movie look good.”
Marich, who grew up in Ely and graduated from White Pine High School, credits a haircut he received at Judy’s Barbershop when he was young as his initial inspiration to go into filmmaking.
“There was this book inside the barbershop that explained how different things were made. When I read the section on movies, I fell in love. From there on I was obsessed,” he said.
After graduating high school, he pursued a career in acting, working in several professional plays and landing small speaking roles in films before changing his career trajectory and making a move into directing independent films.
Marich received a scholarship to attend American Academy of Fine Arts in Los Angeles and has since “developed a passion for making movies.”
His first feature length film, titled “Bleedout,” was shot entirely in and around Lund. It was an intense learning experience for Marich, who despite having learned how to make a movie in school was fairly inexperienced with the actual process. The low-budget film ran into its share of issues and was ultimately never released, but Marich called the experience of shooting it “important.”
“There are so many factors that come into play when making a movie, many of which can’t be taught in a classroom,” he said.
His second film, “Hunting,” proved to himself that he could shoot a quality feature length film. What he didn’t know when he finished it was that “Hunting” would ultimately help him secure funding for his current project. After starting an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for “The Dark Hand” online, Marich caught the attention of a financier. After viewing “Hunting,” Marich’s new executive producer agreed to bankroll his new noir-tinged mystery. To the young director, it was all starting to come together.
“It is an incredible time for independent filmmakers,” Marich said of his ability to secure funding for his film. “To be able to shoot this movie and have parts of it set in Ely, it’s like coming home.”
Marich will return to Ely in February with his cast of actors and the rest of his film crew to shoot their scenes. He is expecting to final cut of the film to be done by June. From there, Marich said that he would submit the film to various film festivals around the country. He anticipates having both “Hunting” and “The Dark Hand” on video on demand services before the end of the year and teased the idea of having a special screening of the film sometime down the road at the Ely Central Theater.