Late Cartoonist Ed Koren Makes His Film Debut in 'The Farm Boy' | Culture | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Late Cartoonist Ed Koren Makes His Film Debut in 'The Farm Boy'


Published May 11, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.

Henry Woodard, left, and Ed Koren in "The Farm Boy" - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Henry Woodard, left, and Ed Koren in "The Farm Boy"
In spring 2016, filmmaker George Woodard attended a film festival screening of the 1916 silent film A Vermont Romance. At the show, he recognized a fellow audience member: cartoonist Ed Koren. Though Woodard knew Koren only through his work, he approached the artist that night in Burlington.

“I said, ‘Ed, you look good! Wanna be in a movie?’” Woodard recalled. “And he said, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like that.’”

“Well,” Woodard told him, “keep it in mind.”

More than two years later, Woodard connected with Koren through a mutual friend, comic artist Stephen Bissette, to ask him again about a possible movie role. This time, Koren said yes.

And so Koren, who published his first cartoon in the New Yorker in his twenties, acted in his first movie in his eighties. The cartoonist, who died on April 14 at 87 at his home in Brookfield, has a cameo in Woodard’s recently released World War II drama, The Farm Boy.

“I knew Ed would be great,” said Woodard, 70, who wrote and directed the movie. “He just had such a good look.”

Koren appears in a scene with the filmmaker's son, Henry Woodard. Their encounter takes place in the front seat of a truck. Koren’s character collects scrap metal in his 1931 Ford AA. Henry plays a young soldier, Calvin Dillard, who’s headed home from boot camp on a two-day pass to marry his sweetheart.

“Need a ride, young fella?” Koren asks Dillard, when he sees him on the road.

Dillard climbs in for the last stretch of his trip to his family farm. Once Koren establishes that Dillard isn’t AWOL, the two talk about marriage and cows in the front seat of the truck. The scene was shot in the cellar of Woodard’s Waterbury Center farmhouse, where the old Ford is parked.

“You got to have them things around if the opportunity arises,” Woodard said of keeping a movie prop below his house. “You never know.”

Not long after Woodard shot the Koren sequence in fall 2018, he and movie producer Joan Brace O'Neal attended an event at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier for the cartoonist’s book, Koren. In the Wild.
Ed Koren's sketch for George Woodard - COURTESY SUZANNE WOODARD
  • Courtesy Suzanne Woodard
  • Ed Koren's sketch for George Woodard
At the book signing, Koren made a little sketch in Woodard’s book. He drew himself in the truck wearing a hat like the one he wears in the movie and Woodard standing behind the movie camera. Koren signed the drawing, “With Lots of Friendship, EK.”

“I tell everybody I never bought a lottery ticket, but when he said, ‘Yes’ [to the movie], I felt like I won it,” Woodard said.

Koren didn't see The Farm Boy, Woodard said. But when his name appeared in the opening credits of the May 6 screening in Montpelier, Koren got a round of applause.

The Farm Boy will be presented this Saturday, May 13, at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury, and Monday, May 15, at Playhouse Movie Theatre in Randolph; both shows are at 6:30 p.m. Before a June break for haying, Woodard will screen the movie at Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro on Sunday, May 21, at 2 p.m.

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