'Secrets of the Desert Nymph' Keeping the Arts Alive

Nevada’s youth hit the big screen on Friday when the local film, “Secrets of the Desert Nymph,” premiered to a full house at the CVIC Hall in Minden.

Prior to the screening, audience members chatted with the producer, directors, cast and crew of the film and enjoyed music by David Fristed and Vincent Anderson.

Donna Walden, who produced the film, wanted to create a local film project and approached Bryan Caron with the idea in July 2011. The pair had worked together before on award-winning film “My Necklace, Myself.”

“I wanted to come up with something that tied all the characters together,” Caron said. He invented the tale of the desert nymph, who valued her chastity so much that she chose to be buried beneath the desert rather than lose it, specifically for this project.

“Secrets of the Desert Nymph” is a film about sex, abstinence, and morals; it shows how the pressure to have sex affected three very different girls in very different ways. It focused on each girl coming to terms with her situation and the three helping one another get there.

Caron wrote the script for northern Nevada despite having never been to this region before.

“I told him, ‘we have ranches, and we have deserts,’” Walden said.

Caron didn’t see writing about an unfamiliar place as a challenge. “You know general locations,” he said. “I had images in my head of how I thought things looked like.”

Once he arrived, he found locations that were similar and let the differences go.

Ultimately, the project wasn’t about the film as much as about the community. As a local, Walden wanted to set up a community film workshop to make a film that took place at home. Local young people did the camera work, set, hair and makeup, and everything in between.

“It’s just a good overall art project,” Walden said. ”I think it gave the students confidence to know they could do something as complicated as making a film.”

“I think it’s a wonderful learning opportunity for everyone involved,” agreed Steve Farnsley, executive director of the Carson Valley Arts Council, which helped fund the project.

The technical crew started out as an extension of Brett Caron’s class at Whittell High School and the cast was selected through local auditions. The film starred Talice Gadwill, Desiree Beaumont, Elle Reyes, and Matt Craugh.

Reyes and Craugh both got the parts they wanted, but Gadwill and Beaumont came into the project with short-lived preconceptions. Gadwill wanted to do makeup; Beaumont wanted to play Daphne.

“They told me ‘No, you’re auditioning for Alice,’ and I was mad,” Beaumont remembered.

 Both Walden and technical director Brett Caron brought up the possibility of future community films like “Nymph,” and idea audience members supported after the screening by asking when the sequel would come out.

“That’s confidential,” Beaumont answered jokingly.

Although “Secrets of the Desert Nymph” may never get a sequel, Walden says this isn’t the end of community films in Northern Nevada. She plans on doing more, also as workshops to educate young people about the arts.

The film was supported by Carson Valley Arts Council, Northern Nevada Filmworks, and Northern Nevada Film Factory, in collaboration with DaVinci Design and Divine Trinity Productions.