UPDATED: Film producer interested in West Branch hospital, W-P alternative education building


OGEMAW COUNTY — An Italian film producer may be interested in using locations in West Branch and at Whittemore-Prescott High School in his next movie.

Valerio Zanoli, a producer from California, is currently in Michigan visiting possible filming locations for a movie called "Hopeful Notes."

West Branch Regional Medical Center, the Medical Arts building and Whittemore-Prescott’s alternative education building are possibilities.

"Hopeful Notes" is scripted to be about a Russian boy who has leukemia and is very skilled in playing music. The movie is reported to be an upbeat story focusing on the child’s musical ability.

“They want to use a building or school that seems Russian,” local business owner Pete Fabbri said. “‘Old and beat up looking, something that looks Russian,’ was his (Zanoli) words.”

One of the possible filming locations is the Whittemore-Prescott alternative education building. Superintendent Ted Matuszak said the administration and staff are willing to help.

“If the pictures were of interest to him (Zanoli), we’d be more than happy to accommodate him to come look at the facility in person,” Matuszak said. “Just the same thing with trying to boost our economy or bolster the area.”

Another option for the film producer is West Branch Regional Medical Center or the Medical Arts building.

Director of Communications for WBRMC Sally Ann Whitener said the hospital staff was very excited when Fabbri told them a movie producer was looking for a hospital in Michigan to film at. Administrators provided a link to the hospital’s virtual tour and photographs of the Medical Arts Center for Zanoli and other interested producers.

“It would definitely be a challenge for us to accommodate a film crew, actors, and not have it interfere with patient care or allow us to protect our patients’ privacy, which of course are our priorities,” Whitener said. “However, we are willing to consider a film project here on a case by case basis because of the positive impact we believe this type of project would have on our community.”

Currently, Fabbri is sending Zanoli pictures and information on the facilities that may be of interest for scenes for the movie.

“His interest is more than casual, but we haven’t met him personally,” Fabbri said. “I’m hoping to pique his interest with the pictures, and once we do that we’ll see if we can get him here.”

Reportedly, Zanoli is currently in Grand Rapids visiting possible film locations for "Hopeful Notes." Once Zanoli receives the pictures and information about the facilities and what Ogemaw County has to offer for the film, Fabbri is hoping the producer will choose this area for his film.

“We’re hoping that at least part of the movie can be filmed here in West Branch,” Fabbri said. “He wants to use just local Michigan talent, including the lead role.”

Zanoli is credited with writing and directing "The Minis," a comedy produced in California earlier this year.


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