By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief
It was a wrong turn more than four years ago that brought Guisela Moro, of Newfoundland Films, back to Wyoming County to film her movie “Hollow Creek.”
Moro wrote the story, is the producer and will also serve as director.
She conducted open auditions Sept. 1 in the Wyoming County East High School auditorium and was very pleased with the result.
“I was very impressed with the faces I saw here,” she said during the screen tests.
“We’ve had a great response from the community,” she emphasized.
“I know what I’m looking for, what I want for the movie,” she explained. “But sometimes people walk in and I’m taken by surprise.”
Moro had an older person in mind for the part of a police officer. One young man, however, came in and she re-wrote the character to fit him.
“He just nailed it,” she said. “I adapted the part to him.”
Moro said he reminded her of Michael J. Fox.
She has also conducted auditions, by invitation only, in Florida and in Parkersburg. Thus far, she’s screen tested about 100 people for parts in the feature film.
The two leading characters in the movie will be performed by professional actors, Moro said.
The movie is set around “a New York writer, who, seeking inspiration for his latest horror novel, retreats to a remote cabin in the Appalachian Mountains. Accompanied by his secret lover, a twist of fate turns the romantic interlude into a real life abduction murder when his lover mysteriously goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect.”
Three boys will be cast for key roles in the movie, according to Laura McKinney, deputy circuit clerk, who is assisting with pre-production work.
McKinney has also assisted with scouting county locations for the movie. She and Moro became friends several years ago when Moro was in the county conducting business.
“A West Virginia accent is essential,” McKinney emphasized of some of the roles.
The historic Itmann Company Store building will serve as a major location for the movie, according to Moro.
“I drove by the area for the first time (nearly four) years ago and fell in love with the scenery,” Moro said.
“I remember then saying to myself, that one day I was going to write a script based on this amazing, unique place.”
The building once served as the center of community life for Itmann’s isolated coal mining community. At one time, the structure housed the company store, post office, pool room, barber shop, doctor’s office, along with apartments for company employees. The facility has been vacant for several years.
“I don’t think Hollywood could build anything better,” Moro emphasized. “It’s going to be like an extra character in the movie — that’s how important it is to the movie.”
Moro is funding the film, in part, with a grant from the Burt Reynolds Film Institute in Florida.
Principal photography will begin in late September and continue throughout Wyoming County into October.
The film company will return in January because there is a four-month span in the story, McKinney explained.
The county courthouse will be used in the movie as well, McKinney said, including the old jail.
Two farmhouses in the county will also be used in the film project, she said.
When filming begins, crews are expected to be in the county for several weeks, McKinney said.
The West Virginia Film Commission tried to convince Moro to film nearer to Charleston, but Moro was determined. She loved the company store and the county courthouse.
“I was so determined to shoot here,” she emphasized.
Once commission representatives came to the area, they were just as impressed, Moro said.
The commission will make Wyoming County “their location of the month” in the future, Moro said. However, she asked that she be allowed to use the locations first before “the secret” got out and other movie producers flocked to the area.
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