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Three kids on beach, trestle bridge in background

McKinley Blehm, Lucas Jaye and Casey Simpson in a scene from Timecrafters. Much of the movie was shot in Mendocino.

Until he retired in 2017, Chip Fraser was a California educator for almost 30 years and president of the Ventura Unified Education Association for the last five of them. He is also a writer, and 23 years ago he began to work on a script with his friend Jeffrey Butscher, a writer and producer.

Chip Fraser

Chip Fraser

“The idea came to me in Duck, North Carolina, where I was living on the ocean,” Fraser recalls. “It was a cold winter’s night sitting there. I could imagine pirate ships coming and planting treasure on the beach — which they actually did.”

After they finished the script and pitched it to numerous people over the years, including a few big-name producers, Fraser and Butscher’s movie finally got made. Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove premiered late last year.

The plot has time-traveling pirates searching for lost treasure. They end up in the modern day battling unlikely foes — a group of kids with the latest tech gadgetry.

Though set in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, the film was shot mostly in Mendocino in 2019 and stars Denise Richards and Malcolm McDowell, along with some talented young performers.

Four kids in dark cave

Chip (Lucas Jaye), Josh (Casey Simpson), Brigitte (McKinley Blehm) and Hedge (Connor Cain) search for pirate treasure in Timecrafters.

“It’s a kids’ movie, but adults will not be bored out of their minds,” Fraser says. “It has a nice cast. All the kids have Disney shows. One has 2.5 million followers.”

Teacher Fraser worked several educational components into the script. “At the end, Josh, the lead kid, talks about what treasure means. He comes to value family and friends, not money, gold and jewels.”

The movie children are also required to work as a team and think critically about history and how to interpret and search for ancient items. They must consider how time can be manipulated and how people can time-travel.

Movie poster

While the kids in Timecrafters are sixth graders (one was modeled after Fraser’s young son at the time), Fraser taught mostly at the high school level, at continuation schools and with special education students. “We took kids nobody wanted, and shining stars came out of that school. They did and are doing wonderful things,” he says, recalling his 20-year stint with Ventura Unified.

The CTA/NEA-Retired member is happy when he runs into former students in the community, many working locally with families of their own.

Fraser is currently finishing a book called Emerald City (“about being happy and getting the most out of life”) and lives what he writes with Pamela, his wife of 40 years. They enjoy their grown children and grandchildren.

Of the journey Timecrafters took from a long-ago idea to fruition, he’s philosophical. “We never gave up on it.”

Timecrafters: The Treasure of Pirate’s Cove is now available on cable and streaming services including Amazon Prime.

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