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‘Mass’ Challenges Young Thespian to Watch Without Judgment
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Monday, December 20, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Kagen Albright shared a different perspective than the 250 filmgoers who turned out at The Argyros this week to see the movie “Mass.”

After all, the young man who has appeared in numerous theater productions in the Wood River Valley, was watching himself on screen.

“I honestly had a difficult time watching the bits that I was in. It’s a strange experience to watch yourself from a third-party perspective, to watch yourself without judgment,” said Albright, who has spent the week cramming for college finals before the holiday break.

Albright was able to snag a fairly prominent role in the movie as a young church worker. He was joined by Michelle Carter and a bevy of choir singers, for the film which was filmed in Hailey in November 2019. Emmanuel Episcopal Church also starred in some nice shots as the setting for a meeting between two sets of parents—one whose son had killed the others’ son in a mass school shooting.

The film, which follows the parents through blame, grief and, finally, reconciliation, was difficult for some in the audience to watch. Others proclaimed it “an incredible film.”

“What stood out to me was the intimacy that Fran, the writer and director, had cultivated between the audience and the story,” said Albright, who first saw the finished product when it premiered at Sundance Film Festival. “The subject matter of the film is inherently difficult to be in conversation with. It is easy to shy away and save yourself from considering the reality of our modern world and the conditions that come with it.

“But the way in which the film was shot and edited, coupled with the moving performances of Martha, Ann, Jason, and Reed, draws you into the story and fully engages you in the less than savory reality. And it asks that you put yourself in dialogue with what the characters are experiencing. In all, I found the film to be not only deeply moving, but necessary.”

The film stars Reed Birney of “House of Cards;” Ann Dowd, of “The Handmaid’s Tale;” Jason Isaacs, of “Harry Potter,” “Star Trek” and “Hotel Mumbai,” and Martha Plimpton, of “Raising Hope” and “The Goonies.”

It was written and directed by Fran Kranz, a friend of Argyros Director Casey Mott, who helped produce the film.

Kranz said he chose to shoot in the Wood River Valley because there was a spiritual quality to the place.

"Even though the landscape doesn't play a major part, the grandeur informs everything," added Mott.

The discussion between the parents encompassed 75 pages of script and a 2.5 day rehearsal.

"What could be more powerful than to have four people work together in one room?" asked Kranz.

Albright said he lucked into his role.

“My experience with it was very serendipitous. I had to remind myself that what I was experiencing was real life, because, I mean, I felt lucky to the point of it being undeserved, so at a point I had to just accept that what I was experiencing was indeed actually happening and simply focus on showing up to do my job.”

Getting to watch and learn was invaluable, he said.

“Being around seasoned professionals in all aspects of filmmaking, I was reminded that while it is a job it is also a fun and fulfilling process that is all about playing around with what works, both from a technical and acting perspective. I acquired knowledge that I will carry with me through the rest of my career.”

“Mass” is scheduled to be on video-on-demand and streaming Dec. 28.


 

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