Film crew on set here

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 3, 2012

Linda Turk-Frazier of Brewton plays a slave in the movie. Here, she poses on set Friday just before lunch.

The whitewashed picket fence, albeit leaning and thin in some places, still bordered the home place. A tin-roofed barn made of rough-cut lumber sits, flanked by grass made green by recent rains.

Across the way, what once was a country store stands a little too close to the now-traveled clay dirt road.

If those descriptions bring to mind the scene of a movie, one would be absolutely correct – especially considering that on Friday, the student film production of “Only Fear of Death” was winding down shooting the remaining scenes at an old plantation site just over the county line.

The low-budget, 35-minute film is the senior thesis for Michael “Mike” Infante, a student at a New York school of visual and performing arts. So how does a New York director find a location in South Alabama?

“Well, two ways,” Infante said. “We were originally thinking we’d shoot it in New Jersey, but one of the crew members (Abby Riley) was from Florala, and she said we should look at the area.

“So, then I called the state film office, and got fantastic people who got me the best possible locations here,” he said. While Infante and his crew didn’t want to pinpoint the various locations throughout the county, he did mention areas of Red Level, Florala and the Brooklyn area, specifically Boggs and Boulders and the surrounding lands.

The film tells the story of a family dealing with slavery during the Civil War and is a collaboration between Infante and fellow film student and girlfriend of six years, Jessica Thoubboron.

“There are no war scenes in the movie,” Infante said. “Instead, it’s a drama about the interaction between a members of a slave-holding family. It’s a modern look at the social dynamics among everyone, about humanity and how people are forced into a situation they don’t want to be in.”

Infante and a location scout traveled to Florala the first part of January to “scout” out the area.

“We found everything we needed to make a great film – a manor house, gorgeous roads, great barns, slave quarters, an old country store and the weather – the weather goes in and out, which, as a director, is amazing,” he said. “You can have sun, wind and rain all in one day. Here, in South Alabama, you have everything. I will be back.”

While here, of the 25 cast members, there were four local castings made, including two Brewton women and one Andalusia woman, Alice Maholmes. Maholmes was shopping inside “All is Well” when spotted by Kent Smith, an Andalusia native with decades of experience as a location scout for the film industry and working to find talent for the film.

The Brewton women, Linda Turk-Frazier and Maggie Dozier, were discovered after answering a newspaper ad printed in The Brewton Standard.

Other locals also had their hands in the movie-making magic. Costumes and props for the movie were put on loan by George and Brenda Gantt at Sweetgum Bottom Antiques, while Sir Francis McGowin lent his expertise in history, Infante said.

The 19-member crew will finish working on location today, and will soon return to New York to finish producing the film.

Infante said while this may have been a student project, he plans to enter the selection in a variety of film festivals.