Movie scenes shot at mine in Valley
Some aspects of the film could be finished by November, a producer said.
By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
NEW SPRINGFIELD -- Sam Haynie and Tom Puskar enjoyed spending most of a bright Sunday afternoon walking around covered with soot from head to toe.
"I had three days off," Puskar said of his job at Buffalo Wild Wings in Youngstown. "I figured, 'Why not? I could be a coal miner.'"
Haynie and Puskar were among several hundred people who went Thursday to the Ohio One Building in Youngstown for a casting call for extras to be coal strip miners in a Hollywood feature film. The two were wearing jeans and overalls, and were in full makeup at Thompson Bros. Mining Co. on Sunday taking part in scenes from "Walker Payne."
Opening scenes of the feature film, which stars Jason Patric, Bruce Dern and Sam Shepard, were shot at Thompson Bros., 3379 E. Garfield Road. The film's director is Matt Williams. The producer is Judd Payne.
Haynie, who lives in North Lima, said his wife suggested he try out after seeing a news report about the film coming to the Valley. He was one of 40 to 45 out of approximately 500 people to get selected. Their main roles in the film were to "pantomime and look tired," Haynie said.
The movie takes place in 1957 and is about the closing of a coal mine and its effects on a miner (Patric) and his family, said Tom Busch, a line producer. The mine closing creates economic hardships for Patric's character, forcing him to have to make tough choices for himself and his two daughters.
"We worked with local people knowledgeable about local mines," Busch said.
Several area car collectors and car restorers brought old vintage vehicles to Thompson Bros., which gave the set more of a 1950s flavor and look. Vehicles included a 1954 Ford F-150 pickup truck, a Ford Country Sedan station wagon and two sheriff's patrol cars.
Busch said he anticipates the sound, music and editing for the film will wrap up in November. Busch added that he hopes the movie will be released in 2006.
Richard Ouzounian of the Western Reserve Film Commission said Payne's call six or seven weeks ago was the first he received about having the film crew come to the Mahoning Valley. Ouzounian, also known as "Oz," added that Payne wanted him to photograph various mines in the area.
"We had mines they liked," Ouzounian said.
Most of "Walker Payne" was filmed in South Carolina, which has few "real mines," he said. The movie was shot in Rock Hill, Camden and other smaller towns in that state.
Local economic impact
Ouzounian noted that the two days of filming brought close to $400,000 to the local economy. Much of that money was generated from the cast and crew patronizing area restaurants, renting cars and staying at local motels.
Sunday marked the last day of shooting for the film, he said. The editing process now begins in Los Angeles, he added.
"This is a massive effort. We're very luck to get this," Ouzounian said, adding that he hopes it will encourage other films to come to the Mahoning Valley.
Barbara Hierro, owner and agent of Style Mavens Agents & amp; Image Consultants of Poland, said three of the film's extras came through her agency. Style Mavens also is representing John Janacone of Poland, who is a stand-in for Patric, she said.
State Sen. Marc Dann of Liberty, D-32nd, is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 152, which is designed to create a series of state tax incentives for film companies that come to Ohio. About 15 movies are in production in Louisiana, which has similar incentives in place, Dann explained.
Calling Ohio "a microcosm of the rest of the country," Dann said the bill, which is based on one in place in Louisiana, would feature similar incentives to make Ohio more competitive for such work.
"I think the upside is very big," he said.