Thriller to begin filming in Mayfield
By Shelley Byrne
The Mayfield Messenger
Principal photography will begin Monday on a horror film being shot in and around Mayfield.
"Star Light" is not what Cheryl Dillard Staurulakis, co-producer, calls a "slasher," but involves elements of suspense and thriller films. Staurulakis arrived last week and has spent her time since then doing everything from buying bed linens for crew members to booking actors' flights.
On a trip last month, she scouted locations and held auditions to cast some roles. The WK&T Technology Park, which is the former Mid Continent University, is one location for filming. Another is The Lodge At Emerald Waters, near Pryorsburg.
Staurulakis expected to finish up casting this week.
Scout Taylor-Compton has been cast as Bebe. She had a featured role in the 2006 film "A.W.O.L.," starring David Morse and the leading role in MGM's 2004 film "Sleepover." She also acted in Jennifer Garner's 2004 film "13 Going on 30." In television, Taylor-Compton had a leading role in the 2005 Bravo series "Hidden Howie: The Private Life of a Public Nuisance" starring Howie Mandel. Television guest credits include recurring roles on "Unfabulous," "The Guardian," "Charmed," and "Gilmore Girls" as well as "Ally McBeal" and "That's So Raven." She was nominated in 2004 for a Young Artist Award for her work on "Gilmore Girls" and was again nominated in 2005 for her roles in "Sleepover" and CBS's "The Guardian."
Several Graves County residents are among the actors and crew. Hagen Mills of Mayfield has landed a major role as Monty. Erin Sullivan of Mayfield plays a reporter. Orion Page of Mayfield is a production assistant. Dana O'Key of Boaz is a makeup artist. Three Graves County High School students, Cailey Elder, Sierra Travis and Taylor Travis, are interning with the film crew.
Elder, 17, spent part of Monday setting up lodging for crew members. "I'm just making sure things are set up so they are comfortable," she said.
She said she has had an interest in acting for years and hopes interning with the film will give her much-needed experience.
"I think this will definitely give me a taste of what to expect if I decided to go that route in college," she said.
Staurulakis said anyone else interested in participating in the shooting of "Star Light" should pay close attention to the Orama Filmworks Facebook page.
"We are going to need extras, and we will be posting updates about additional crew opportunities as well as extras," she said.
Orama Filmworks, Jeffrey Allard of Indie Entertainment and Mitchell Altieri of Butcher Brothers have teamed up to produce the film. Allard's credits include 2003's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," according to Variety. The newly formed Orama Filmworks has also planned two other unreleased films for 2018: "Bermuda Lost" and "The 551st."
Those interested in following the production of "Star Light" may check its imdb.com for more casting and other news, Staurulakis said. The film, directed by Lee Cummings, is telling the story of "a teen whose life is turned upside down when he helps a world-famous pop star on the run from her violent pursuers."
Filming is expected to continue through Nov. 17 with about 40 cast and crew members.
Staurulakis said she is using local talent wherever she can find them, even if they have no previous film experience. An example is using makeup artists for the Talon Falls Screampark attractions in Melber. She said she hopes to create a group of people who use the experience working on this film to build their skills so she can use them again if they bring another film to Mayfield.
"We would like to bring another film back," she said. "We have a script. We are vetting it to make sure it's something we want, to make sure it's a good fit."
Orama Filmworks first heard of Mayfield through a business relationship between Staurulakis' husband, Leo, and Trevor Bonnstetter, chief executive officer of WK&T.
"We were together on a business trip, and he said, you know, you all ought to bring one of your films to Mayfield because the community would be very supportive and accepting here," Staurulakis said.
She said she has been impressed with what she has seen so far.
"I spend a lot of time in cities, so experiencing the small town camaraderie and the Southern hospitality," have stood out, she said. "When people say they are going to do something, they do it."
Bonnstetter stopped by to check in with Staurulakis and make sure she had all she needed Monday afternoon.
"We're happy to have them here, and I think it's a great opportunity for the region," he said.
Kentucky's film incentive program makes Kentucky a desirable location to shoot a film, but up until now, the film industry has paid most of its attention to Louisville, Staurulakis said. Film executives are watching western Kentucky closely with the shooting of "Star Light."
"I think we are kind of the test case to make sure they like it," she said.
The film incentive, which Staurulakis called one of the most generous in the nation, allows producers to recoup 35 percent of expenses incurred in making a film in Kentucky, said Ryan Drane, president of Graves County Economic Development.
"We're going to be spending at least $300,000 in the state of Kentucky, but the bulk of that is going to be where we're staying and eating and working, and that's Mayfield," Staurulakis said.
Drane said he has met with producers, directors and actors for other films that have begun looking at Kentucky as a possible filming location.
"We don't see this as a one-time opportunity," he said. "We see that as long as the film incentive stays in place that we could be looking at several opportunities in Mayfield, Graves County and throughout the entire region for years to come."
Drane also encouraged people to welcome the filmmakers if they happen to run into them in town.
"As a community, it's incredibly important that we put our best foot forward, from just being good citizens to providing excellent customer service in our restaurants and our retail locations, that we really roll out the red carpet for these people and show them our Southern hospitality," he said. "That will go a long way in having future success in having projects locate here."