One afternoon in the summer of 2018, a nervous Amelia Borgerding and Parker Pascoe-Sheppard approached writer and director Sabrina Doyle in an ice cream shop in Eugene. They had heard she was casting local kids in her upcoming movie, and wanted her to know that they were interested.
Three years later, their faces are about to appear on the big screen in their own hometown.
Amelia, 12, and Parker, 10, are two Eugeneans starring in the new independent film Lorelei, which will arrive in select theaters on July 30. Siblings on-screen, they could pass for relatives in real life, even if Amelia’s light brown hair and blue eyes don’t quite match Parker’s strawberry blond hair and hazel eyes.
Lorelei, written and directed by Doyle, centers on a working-class family. Wayland, played by Pablo Schreiber (Orange is the New Black), reconnects with his high school girlfriend Dolores, played by Jena Malone (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), after his release from prison. He quickly becomes a part of her family and a hesitant father figure to her three children: Dodger Blue, played by Vancouver-based actor Chancellor Perry; Periwinkle Blue, played by Amelia; and Denim Blue, played by Parker.
Parker, who uses they/them pronouns, had attended a couple of local theater camps prior to filming Lorelei. Megan Sheppard, Parker’s mom, says that they have been putting on skits and performing in the house since they were a toddler.
Amelia is entirely new to acting. Parker told her about a director looking for local talent, and she was immediately willing to give it a try. She now loves to act and says, if given the opportunity, she would definitely do it again.
Doyle auditioned hundreds of children for the roles of Dodger, Periwinkle and Denim. The summer before shooting, she traveled to Oregon several times and attended multitudes of children’s plays to scout for young actors. It was after one of these plays that Amelia and Parker approached her at Vanilla Jill’s Scoops & Soups. From there, they auditioned for Periwinkle and Denim three times.
Doyle was struck by the emotional intelligence and sensitivity Amelia and Parker both demonstrated during the casting process.
“There was a moment in their auditions where it didn’t feel like they were just reciting lines,” Doyle says. “It really felt like they believed, in that moment, that they were experiencing this, and having a genuine emotional response to it.”
Shooting began at the end of October 2018. Lorelei was filmed for 21 days in Oregon in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. The cast and crew also shot for two days in Sacramento and two days in Los Angeles.
Amelia recalls feeling primarily excitement when shooting began. A vivacious reader, she studied the script over and over again prior to filming, and had memorized the entire thing before she even showed up on set.
Parker says they were very nervous on their first day. But Doyle, Perry, Schreiber and Malone all helped both Parker and Amelia to become comfortable in the on-set environment. Amelia says that Perry took on the role of big brother even off-camera, and Doyle says that Malone, a former child actor herself, knew how to turn shooting difficult scenes into fun games.
As the film is released more widely and made available to more people, Amelia and Parker are experiencing the broiling excitement that comes with a yearslong wait to share one’s hard work with the world.
“I’m very excited because it’s finally happening,” Parker says. “But it also hasn’t set in that everyone can see my face whenever they want.”
Lorelei appeared in the Tribeca Film Festival on June 19. Its U.S. theatrical and on-demand release is July 30. In Oregon, it will appear at the Broadway Metro in Eugene, the Living Room Theaters in Portland, the Salem Cinema, the McMinnville Cinema and the Pony Village Cinema in North Bend. Other theaters may be added, and a full list can be found at Lorelei.love.