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Former employee turns Ellington Supermarket into film icon

By Anne Pallivathuckal
Journal Inquirer
November 10, 2006

ELLINGTON - The Ellington Supermarket is back - on the silver screen, this time.

An Ellington High School graduate and former Ellington Supermarket employee is bringing the recently closed store back to life on celluloid.

Timothy Norman, 21, a film student at Emerson College in Boston, wrote and directed "The Supermarket," an independent comedy-drama centered on a group of young friends who work at a supermarket in a rapidly changing small town.

In the movie, the supermarket is under the threat of shutting down because of the arrival of a big chain store.

The actual, family-owned Ellington Supermarket, which was a fixture in town for almost 20 years, closed in July in anticipation of the opening of a Big Y supermarket a little way down Route 83.

Some residents expressed dismay at the closing, raising concerns about commercialization and the loss of the small-town feeling.

The movie is a celebration of the New England rural town and the mom-and-pop store - and of growing up in that environment, Norman said in a statement.

Based on the movie's trailer, which is available on the Internet, it combines scenes of hijinks among teenage supermarket employees with themes of lost childhood, the coming of an adult recognition of disenfranchisement, and the loss of a small, rural town to the forces of suburban development.

In the trailer's final scene, a young man stands looking at the supermarket as the camera frames its big lighted sign, with one letter out and another blinking off and on.

Although the name Ellington Supermarket is used in the movie, there is no explicit mention of any supermarket chain. But Norman admits that the story was partly inspired by the opening of the Big Y in town, as well as other instances of chain stores forcing small businesses to close.

"It was a huge disappointment," Norman said of the closing of Ellington Supermarket, where he worked for two years. "It was one of the centerpieces of Ellington. The town lost something."

The film's producers are Matt Jenkins, who is also an Ellington High graduate and former employee of the Ellington Supermarket, and Dave Therrien, a student at Central Connecticut State University.

Virtually everyone involved with the film went to Ellington High or worked at Ellington Supermarket, Norman said. The cast includes Jenkins, Bob Ondek, Brian Madore, Pat Tanner, Carolyne Burgess, and Ed Reed IV.

"The concept of the farms and forests that made Ellington what it is falling before the forces of progress is a very important one to us," Norman said in an e-mail to a reporter. "And, as a young person from Ellington, it's a film about the frustration that one feels over being powerless to halt these changes."

According to Norman, the film is about celebrating his ensemble's hometown as they remember it - and capturing the old spirit of Ellington.

"We hope to create a film that will find an audience among the young and old, making people laugh, think, and remember what they loved about their own hometowns and first jobs," Norman said.

Norman is currently editing the feature-length film, which was shot on location this summer and is expected to be ready for screenings and film festivals in May.

The trailer of "The Supermarket" is available at:

©Journal Inquirer 2006