PICTURED: Eric Lutz and Ashley Newbrough star in Blue Moon Ball, which was filmed at the Camarillo Ranch House. Photo submitted

by Kathryn Stelmach Artuso

 

Once in a blue moon, art mirrors life so well that the results are uncanny. Consider, for instance, the plotline of the movie Blue Moon Ball, which was recently filmed at the Camarillo Ranch House.

A young woman, striving to jump start her career as a writer in a big city, returns to her small hometown to help rescue a historical building from destruction. 

In 1998, a similar event occurred in Camarillo, when Pat Distad and a group of concerned citizens rescued the historic Camarillo Ranch House from possible demolition at the hands of developers. The city was able to save four and a half acres, including the house, barn and stables from being overwhelmed by the industrial park. 

Today the ornate Victorian home hosts weddings and community events, including a world premiere of Blue Moon Ball, which will be held on the front lawn on Friday, September 24 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $15, and children 8 and under are free.

The gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for the family-friendly affair, which will feature food trucks and live music performed by the band Caught Red Handed. Cast and crew members will be on hand, while a raffle and a silent auction will also be held, in which people can bid on scripts signed by the cast members, along with other items that figured prominently in the film. 

Starring Ashley Newbrough and Eric Lutz, the film reveals themes reminiscent of the Hallmark Channel, with a woman returning to her hometown to rekindle the flame of a lost love. The notable building needing to be saved from demolition is a place where couples often met and fell in love during ballroom dances, which were held whenever a blue moon appeared in the sky.

Mary Fry, co-executive producer, notes that such films have a soothing and “healing formula,” which appeal to a wide audience, reaching beyond conventional stereotypes. 

“When we were filming, a retired sheriff said he loves watching [such] movies with his wife because he can go home and relax, and nothing bad will happen.” Fry says she also knows a retired U.S. Marine who “loves watching chick flicks because he loves to laugh. He loves romance, and he knows it’s not going to be bloody, and you know nothing bad will happen.”

Producer Joe Nasser emphasized that the picturesque Ranch House conveyed the perfect “small town vibe,” highlighting the film’s themes of “roots and family values and remembering where we all came from.” 

Fry expressed great gratitude for the kind accommodations made by the city and the Camarillo Ranch Foundation, which “involved everything from turning off city lights for an 1850s nighttime scene, to shutting off the automatic sprinkling system so people and equipment wouldn’t get wet.”

Built in 1892, the Queen Anne-style Victorian home has long been a centerpiece of the community, as the headquarters where Adolfo Camarillo and his family operated a 10,000-acre ranch and raised a special breed of white horses, which famously appeared in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. It recently reopened for docent-led tours on the weekends. David Schlangen, a member of the Board of Directors for the Camarillo Ranch Foundation, hopes to see the return of Santa Nights, school tours and Throwback Thursday events. 

“It’s a gem that we have this property here in Camarillo,” said Schlangen. “We hope the community can come out and enjoy the great weather that we have here, sitting underneath the stars and watching a movie.”


Blue Moon Ball premieres Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Camarillo Ranch House, 201 Camarillo Ranch Road, Camarillo. For tickets and more information, call 805-389-812 or visit camarilloranchfoundation.org. View trailer at vimeo.com/600430947.