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Film Project to Focus on Smith Mountain Lake

Sara Elizabeth Timmins prepares to shoot film promoting the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake.
Sara Elizabeth Timmins prepares to shoot film promoting the beauty of Smith Mountain Lake.

A walk down by the shore of Smith Mountain Lake turned on a light bulb inside Sara Elizabeth Timmons’ head. Now the young producer/actress wants to turn that inspiration into “Lake Effects,” a drama with comedic overtones she hopes to shoot at the lake this fall. Before that happens, Timmins will have to raise the rest of the $500,000 needed.

The price tag could have been as high as $1.8 million, but by engaging the Smith Mountain Lake community, and the nearby Roanoke Valley to some extent, she’s been able to pare the budget. That walk by the lake clarified things for Timmins, who has contracted with credentialed movie veterans to write, produce and direct her movie.

“Suddenly I knew what I was supposed to be doing,” said Timmins.

Lake area residents have responded with props for the film, lodging, catering and other assets – even a tree house needed for one scene. Some will appear on camera in “Lake Effects,” which Timmins described as part “Big Chill,” part “On Golden Pond.”

“It can’t happen any other way,” said Timmins of participation by SML residents.

Lighter moments will come from a subplot, wherein several SML residents believe the lake is inhabited by a Loch Ness type creature.

Entre Computer owner Bart Wilner is among those who have invested in the Lake Effects project, which will be accompanied by a documentary shot during production, called “Just Add Water.”

The Roanoke businessman said,  “Without a shadow of a doubt this is a fun, first class project with huge potential. We’re impressed with Sara Elizabeth’s vision, the film product and her passion to make this happen.”

Timmins’ Life Out Loud Films production company has produced several projects that “challenge the mainstream, present human reality and speak to the heart,” according to promotional material.  Other films in development include motivational projects involving major league baseball players and football Hall of Famers.

As an actress, the Xavier University graduate has appeared in movies like “Princess Diaries 2,” where, alas, her dialogue wound up on the cutting room floor.

“Lake Effects,” which will be her biggest project, is designed for theatrical distribution. Timmins hopes to enter it in film festivals to increase its exposure.  Technically still a Los Angeles resident, she bought a one-way ticket to Virginia some months ago, where her parents have retired at Smith Mountain Lake.

“[I didn’t] realize how unhappy I was [in Los Angeles],” Timmins said.

Timmins hopes to finish raising the funds needed in the next week or so; if she doesn’t hit the $500,000 mark, shooting could be pushed back to next year.

It will get made, she vows: “my goal is to make a positive impact in the community.” Portions of the proceeds will go to a lake cleanup and the crew will volunteer for community projects.

“We’re going to showcase the beauty of the lake,” said Timmins, who wants to promote tourism and economic development as a byproduct. “A lot of people in the community have come together to make this happen.  Smith Mountain Lake now owns this film.” Visit for more information.

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