PARKERSBURG - Wood County and Ritchie County locales and some residents may find their way into two movies being produced and directed by Ritchie County resident Eric Benson.
Benson, who has worked in the television business since the 1990s and is a pastor, and actress Guisela Moro, from Palm Beach, Fla., met at an Atlanta, Ga., film workshop and are collaborating on their first two feature films.
Benson is writer, producer-director for his faith-based movie "Seven Deadly Words." The film, at least in part, is based on actual events. Moro will have the lead female role in the production.
Photo by Pamela Brust
Eric Benson, of Cairo, is the producer-director for a movie he wrote called “Seven Deadly Words” and is also serving as production manager for a horror film called “Hollow Creek” written by actress Guisela Moro.
Moro's movie, which she wrote, is called "Hollow Creek." It's a horror film. Benson is the production manager and will have a small acting role in her film. Benson and Moro were in Parkersburg recently scouting locales for his movie, which begins production in July in Indiana. Moro and Benson will be back in the area later this summer to scout additional sites for Moro's movie, as well as recruiting extras.
The projects have been longtime dreams for both.
Benson said, "I was a news producer for a CBS affiliate for a while, then did some documentaries and other television work, and acted in a movie called 'Disappearances,' with Kris Kristofferson. It was just a bit part. I played a no-account bum. But it was my opportunity to be on a feature film set for the first time, and I just fell in love with it. I knew the power of telling a story through film, and I wanted to be part of that."
Benson's film will primarily be filmed in Connersville, Ind. The film is expected to be released in the spring of 2013. Benson said he's been working full time on his faith-based production for nearly two years.
"I've been working on the idea for longer. I was a pastor for a number of years and a church consultant and I saw a lot of things take place in different churches and heard stories from churches that had experienced conflict over change and how that was emotionally devastating to people," Benson said. "I thought someday I should try to tell these stories to see if we can learn from them. Eventually I developed this script, which is inspired by actual events. Although it's imaginary, it's all about the seven deadly words , which are 'we've never done it that way before,'" Benson said.
Benson said he has the cast in place.
"We start principal photography on my movie July 9. We have a crew of 16 and cast of 27," he said.
In shopping around for locations to film, Benson said they needed a church that had a fellowship hall without windows.
"That way we could shoot night and business meeting scenes in the daytime. We also needed a train station that looked like an Amtrak station and a town diner. We looked all over West Virginia, but it was difficult to find one community that had all three of those, and we finally found Connersville, Ind., which worked out perfectly," Benson said.
There will be about three weeks of principal photography, then editing, and Benson said he anticipates the film will be ready for sneak previews and festival showings at the beginning of 2013.
"We have begun to develop partnerships with distribution companies, so I fully anticipate Parkersburg folks will be able to go to their local theater and see it," Benson said. "Because it is a faith-based script, we will also partner with churches to allow them to show it for special events."
"The message from the movie for those inside the faith community is that you can overcome the difficulty caused by change and still come together in Christ and accomplish something positive. For those outside the faith community, they will get the message there are good and bad things that happen in church and you can't let the bad things make a decision for you on how you perceive people who are part of the faith community. Good people can stand up and make a difference. It will leave the viewer with strong messages of encouragement, hope and endurance in the face of adversity ... anyone can make a difference when they stand firm in the courage of their convictions," he said.
The film is a family affair for Benson. His wife will be in Indiana helping out, his youngest son will have a part in the movie and another son will be helping out on set.
For more information on "Seven Deadly Words," go to the movie's website: www.sevendeadlywords.com.
Argentine-born Moro said she's been in the acting business for about 18 years.
"I have a degree in journalism, and I wanted to start writing my own material. I wanted to be in charge of my own project and we need to get more women involved in directing," she said about her first venture into feature film making.
"There are some scenes which take place in my movie that involve a very modern New York-style office building and we were in Parkersburg looking for a location like that," Benson said.
Before entering the world of feature film production, Moro was best known as an actress on the Spanish language Telemundo, in feature films such as "The Castro Conspiracy," or on stage as one of Burt Reynold's "Master Actors" with the Burt Reynolds institute for Film and Theater.
Moros' film will be shot extensively in West Virginia, in the Mullens, Pineville, Wyoming County area. The two were scouting a vintage gas station, a bed and breakfast and a lagoon along the North Bend Rail Trail in Ritchie County, which may show up in Moro's movie. The movie is about a writer who, seeking inspiration for his latest novel, retreats to a remote cabin in the Appalachian mountains. A twist of fate turns the romantic interlude into a real life abduction... when a woman mysteriously goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect.
"I just fell in love with the locations around Pineville. I was in the area a few years ago and there are so many architectural treasures. The West Virginia Film Commission has been great. They opened their doors to us and have been very helpful," Moro said.
She described her film as a horror thriller. There are some roles open she hopes to fill in the next month or so. She hopes to have her film finalized by the end of the year.
For more information, contact Moro at firstname.lastname@example.org.