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Sweets on screen

Sweets Etc. used as setting in Tribecabound indie comedy 'Rid of Me'
by: Submitted Photo After her divorce, Portland transplant Meris Canfield, portrayed by Katie O’Grady, lands a job at a candy shop filmed at and fashioned after Multnomah Village’s Sweets Etc. in “Rid of Me.” The film will premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

MULTNOMAH - James Westby's 'Rid of Me' is the next in a line of Portland-based film and television creations making waves on the national scene.

The film was recently accepted into this year's Tribeca Film Festival, where Multnomah Village's own Sweets Etc. will make its silver screen debut.

This dark, quirky, independent comedy was written and directed by Portland filmmaker James Westby, the man behind indie cult hits such as 'Film Geek' and the 2008's Tribeca entry 'The Auteur.'

Starring Katie O'Grady, Storm Large, Theresa Russell and Everclear frontman Art Alexakis, 'Rid of Me' follows the story of Meris Canfield, who - after moving to Portland and being dumped by her husband - is hired at a candy shop and introduced to the city's underground punk scene by the people she meets on the job.

The film's candy shop, filmed in and mirrored after Sweets Etc., also plays a crucial role.

'It's how she meets her new set of friends in the Portland subculture,' store owner Tricia Leahy said, 'and it's how all the interesting Portland folks come into play.'

Westby had lived or was living in the Multnomah Village area at the time he wrote the script, Leahy explained, and detailed the film's candy shop with Sweets Etc. in mind.

After being contacted by the film's producers, Leahy agreed to allow crews to film in the shop, a process that was completed over the course of two days in 2009.

'They were great,' she said. 'It was a very fun experience.'

Leahy said it was interesting to turn her retail shop into a movie set, as it took some tweaking.

For example, one challenge for the film crew was the ice cream freezer's compressor, she said, which came on at random and disrupted the crew's sound recordings.

'They were very good about having one worker sitting right next to our freezer, and they'd shut it off , do a take and then turn it right back on,' Leahy said. 'They were very considerate of our space and the products.'

Although the shop was closed for an entire day, Leahy and her employees had a chance to look in on the filming.

'The first few takes were fun to watch and see, but when you realize they're going to do 10 or 12 takes of the exact same scene, we kind of disappeared into the back and kept working,' she said. 'It was definitely eye opening to see the filming process.'

Leahy said another memorable experience was meeting some of the cast's big names, including Katie O'Grady - the film's main character and producer through her company, Alcove Productions - who boasts a list of film and television credits in Portland and beyond.

O'Grady worked with Jennifer Aniston and Steve Zahn in 'Management' and has also appeared on the TNT series "Leverage' as well as in an episode of 'Portlandia.'

Portland actor and musician Storm Large - best known for her run on the CBS reality competition 'Rock Star: Supernova' - also appeared in scenes filmed at Sweets Etc.

'The film overall is very true to the 'Keep Portland Weird' theme,' Leahy said, 'and they did a nice job of tying in other places in the village.'

In the film, viewers can spot other recognizable locations such as Post-Hip Records, and Leahy said that, although they were filmed elsewhere, the movie's bar scenes were based on one of Multnomah Village's taverns.

'I think it's fabulous the film got accepted into Tribeca,' she said. 'It'll be great for village and the candy store.'

She said she hopes that, depending on how it is distributed, 'Rid of Me' will gain a following like that of other, similar independent films.

'I'm hoping we can get a little bit of an iconic Portland status from it as 'That little candy store in 'Rid of Me,' ' she said, even among residents of other areas of the city.

'We're hoping people in Portland realize there's a candy store in Portland,' she said. 'We are one of the only ones.'

In fact, for many years, Sweets Etc., which has been in the village for more than 20 years, was the city's only independently owned candy store.

Sweets Etc. will also be fully stocked with the candy - including chocolate-covered gummy bears - mentioned in the film.

'Rid of Me' will premiere in the narrative competition division of the Tribeca Film Festival in New York when it is held April 20 to May 1.

A Portland premiere is planned but not yet scheduled, however, on April 8 a benefit concert and auction for 'Rid of Me' will be held at Mississippi Studios in North Portland featuring performances by Storm Large, among others.

'For people who like the independent Portland films, it's definitely a movie they should see,' Leahy said.

For more information, visit http://ridofmemovie.com.