Friday, May 20, 2011

'Dead Woman's Hollow' film is inspired by Appalachian Trail crimes Independent movie stars many local n

For Libby McDermott of Waynesboro, directing her first film has been challenging and exciting.

“Dead Woman’s Hollow,” an independent film inspired by true crimes committed on the Appalachian Trail, was written by John Taylor of Indiana and formerly of Fairfield. Taylor, of Colorfully Dark Productions, is known locally for his films “LEACH” and “Brainwrap.”

“As soon as I read the script, I was just flabbergasted,” McDermott said. “There were no ifs, ands or buts about it. This has been a dream of mine and now it’s a reality.”

Taylor wrote the film for McDermott and director of photography Matt Stahley.

On the trail

The script was inspired by crimes that occurred along the trail, but is not based on any legends and does not depict any true stories.

“It doesn’t mirror anyone’s real-life situation,” she stressed. “We didn’t want to step on any toes.”

The filmmakers want to keep details of the plot a mystery for audiences. McDermott does hope to keep viewers in suspense while capturing the beauty of the trail.

“It is beautiful out there,” she said. “One of my favorite things is being surrounded by nature. It’s amazing and peaceful to me. I just hope the movie will showcase that as a huge element.”

Overcoming challenges

McDermott said directing her first film has been a lot harder than she anticipated.

“Especially on a no-budget movie. I have to utilize what I have available and try to get people to work for nothing. Fortunately, the script is written so well, everyone who read it was all pretty much impressed with John.”

One of the major challenges she had to overcome was the bitter cold winter months. On days the crew could not work outside, they had to switch their focus to activities such as creating promotional items.

Local cast

Familiar faces are peppered throughout “Dead Woman’s Hollow.”

McDermott said she and Stahley wanted to stick with local talent to keep their travel time to a minimum.

The cast includes: Sarah Snyder of Mercersburg, who plays Donna; Mel Heflin of Winchester, Va., who plays Jen; Charles Dawson of Waynesboro, who plays the sheriff; David Mackley of Waynesboro, who plays the coroner; Greencastle native Koran Dunbar as the boyfriend; and Greencastle native Waylon Smith as Buck.

Mackley is also doing public relations for the film. McDermott said he has been a real asset to the production in securing locations and other needed items for the crew.

Actor, crew reactions

Snyder has appeared in five feature horror flicks. She went to school for elementary education and got into acting because she always loved horror films. Her boyfriend, Troy Smith, does the special effects for “Dead Woman’s Hollow” and introduced her to the filmmakers.

“I really like the film,” Snyder said. “I think the script is great. The story is told really well and I think it will look great. It’s the best script I’ve ever read and worked on.”

“They are very easy to work with,” Snyder continued about McDermott and the crew. “They know exactly what they want and everything is done really quickly.”

Troy Smith, who has done special effects for about 10 years, feels the film will go really well.

“Libby knows how to treat people when she’s behind the camera,” he added. “I can tell how excited she is to do this and how professional she is at the same time.”

Dawson, who is originally from Anderson, Ind., read about McDermott, Taylor and Stahley in The Record Herald. He introduced himself to them last year when “LEACH” premiered in Chambersburg.

McDermott contacted Dawson about playing the sheriff in “Dead Woman’s Hollow.”

“I read the script and it really interested me,” he added.

Dawson, who has a master’s degree in theater from the University of Maryland, has appeared in a number of Civil War films in the area and has performed on stage.

“Libby and Matt are very easy to work with,” Dawson said. “They are really down to earth and they have a real love of what they’re doing. They’re very enthusiastic and great people to work for.”

The crew will finish filming soon and hopes to complete the film by September and feature it at the Homegrown Hollywood Film Festival in Anderson, Ind.

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