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Art Institute student brings film crew to Camas

The streets of downtown Camas were recently the setting for a short film by Portland Art Institute senior Joshua Giurlani.

“Patriots,” is described as a film about veterans, for veterans.

“I want to be able to connect people to veterans on an emotional level,” Giurlani, 22, said. “I didn’t want to make a war film. At its core, this is a film to dispel some of the misconceptions people have about veterans.”

He chose Camas for the film’s location because of its small town appeal, and supportive local businesses and residents. Giurlani is former Camas resident.

“I spent lots of time walking around this quiet, friendly town and I really enjoy the ambiance,” Giurlani said. “I knew if I shot in Portland, there would be too much going on. I wanted the setting to be quiet and reserved.”

The crew set up shop at Natalia’s Cafe on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Dallas Street between Sept. 7 and 11. The premise of the film hit close to home, as the restaurant owner’s husband spent 7.5 years in Afghanistan.

“I was impressed with Joshua’s passion and eagerness,” said owner Erica Slothower. “He was also a very nice young man so I was more than happy to accommodate him.”

Additional filming was done on Prune Hill.

“I really want to be able to open people’s eyes,” he said. “It is a very American thing to idolize our veterans and say, ‘Thank you for serving,’ but the thanks really doesn’t go beyond that. Then, you dig deeper and look at the state of veterans, and it all feels very hollow. Most popular films don’t portray the reality of mental health struggles, issues with the VA, and not being able to access guaranteed benefits.”

John Smith of Portland and Amber Wilbur of Ridgefield were cast as the male and female leads.

“We had around 60 people show up to a casting call at my school and these two really stood out,” Giurlani said. “They also really connect on camera and play well off each other.”

The premiere screening of “Patriots” will be Saturday, Dec. 17 at Cinema 21 in Portland. The time has not been set.

“This is my senior thesis, essentially, and after the screening I am going to try to shop this around to various film festivals,” Giurlani said. “Making this film has been a big leap out of my comfort zone and I couldn’t have done it without my fantastic crew, friends, family and support of Camas.”