Shooting in Shangri-La: 'The Amaranth' Now on Amazon
The resort community of Sun Valley, Idaho welcomed production of "The Amaranth" in spring 2017. Now the film, including the beauty of Sun Valley serving as a warped Shangri-La, is available for rental on Amazon. In "The Amaranth," Lily (Melora Walters) and Richard (Jeffrey DeMunn) move to a luxurious and cult-like community, where Lily becomes unsettled by the transformation she observes in her older husband and in her own physiology, leading her to wonder if there's something more sinister at play.
ConciergeQ spoke with Executive Producer and writer of "The Amaranth," Eileen Shields, about her film, shooting in Idaho, and more.
ConciergeQ: Why did you decide to shoot "The Amaranth" in Sun Valley, Idaho?
Eileen Shields: My husband (Kevin Shields) and I have had a second home in Sun Valley for twenty years now, and the serene beauty and relative isolation of the environment, along with the maturity and fitness of its population, inspired the setting and plot of "The Amaranth"—it seemed a natural fit to try to shoot it here. 
CQ: How was the experience of shooting a feature film in a resort town? 
ES: The pros were the low-key, tranquil quality of the town and the helpfulness of the local community and businesses, particularly given we that shot the film during slack (off) season. We were looking for majestic scenery without the bustle and cost of high season, and that's what you get in May. We found some great local talent thanks to our local casting director (Lynn Mason-Pattnosh). Post-production the Sun Valley Film Festival invited us to sneak preview the film, and we used that experience to gather feedback from the community and refine the edit. Cons would include the time and expense in transporting our crew out to Idaho and housing them, although once we got them here it was a lot like summer camp, being far from friends and family helped bond them together. 
CQ: Could you highlight some of the key themes of the fim?
ES: The Amaranth deals with the global issue of ever expanding income inequality, and the obsession with anti-aging medicine. As more wealth and power is concentrated in fewer hands, and let's face it, those hands are generally attached to aging, white bodies--is it too far a reach to think that this wealth and power might be used to extend the lives of those very rich and powerful people as far as modern medicine will allow—possibly even eclipsing boundaries and ethics.  
CQ: Mollye Asher, "The Amaranth" producer, was just nominated for the 2020 Independent Spirit Awards: Producer Award. That's pretty amazing.
ES: Yes, I'm super proud of Mollye. She is the real deal. 
CQ: Which film inspired you to travel? Why? 
ES: That's so funny, because Kevin and I do the opposite--we decide to travel somewhere, and then watch movies that were shot in that location before we go. For example, we were just in San Miguel de Allende for a week during the Dia de Los Muertos festivities. Before going, we watched "Once Upon a Time In Mexico," which is sort of a silly mess of a film, but most of it was shot on location there. Later when we were touring the famous cathedral, Kevin pointed out to me a balustrade we'd watched Antonio Banderas scramble over.
photo: Kevin Shields and Eileen Shields at the 2018 Sun Valley Film Festival.
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