Southmoreland grad uses area locations in new movie
It was only natural that when Jeremy Phillips developed his first feature film, some portions would be shot in locations in Ruffsdale and Mt. Pleasant.
That's because the Southmoreland High School graduate grew up in Ruffsdale and the area is one with which he is familiar.
“It's a wonderful movie written for the area,” Phillips said during a recent break in shooting from the picture he is directing.
The movie is called “1/1” and it's the story of an 18-year-old girl dealing with the suicide of her father.
Lindsey Shaw, who plays the role of Paige McCullers on “Pretty Little Liars,” headlines the cast as the daughter. Judd Nelson, who's starred in such movies as “The Breakfast Club” and “St. Elmo's Fire,” will portray the father, and Dendrie Taylor, who plays Luann Delaney in “Sons of Anarchy” and had a role in the movie “The Fighter,” will play the mother.
The movie is being developed by the independent film company Narrator Entertainment of Los Angeles.
One location Phillips definitely wanted in the movie was Schaefer's Corner Market.
“I just grew up going there,” Phillips said. “I wanted to have one of the main characters going there to buy a pack of cigarettes. I haven't been there in so long. It's completely renovated, but I'm still shooting there. It was really important to me.”
Kristen Ranker, owner of Schaefer's Corner Market, said those involved with the movies thought her place was just right for a scene in their movie.
“They were driving around the area and were looking for places to shoot some of the film,” Ranker said. “(The producer) said, ‘When we walked into your store, it was perfect, it was like right out of the screenplay.'”
Ranker, who will have owned the store for three years in February, admitted in the days leading up to the shooting that she was excited about the filming taking place at her store.
“I'm just excited my store is going to be in it,” she said. “It just puts me on the map.”
The scene was filmed at Schaefer's Dec. 14. Ranker got to meet Nelson and make breakfast pizza for the crew.
“It was great, it was kind of fun,” Ranker said. “Judd Nelson was at my counter buying cigarettes. They were really nice people. It was wonderful. I would do it again anytime. (Nelson) was very, very quiet. He signed a shirt and thanked me for letting us shoot in the store.”
Cassidy Lunnen, the movie's producer, said initial plans called for all of the filming to be done in California, even though the movie's setting is western Pennsylvania.
“We ended up having an epiphany,” she said. “We should have it where (Phillips) wrote it for....We just kind of cruised around town and found these amazing locations in Ruffsdale and Mt. Pleasant. People in these towns have been amazing to us. I'm definitely coming back.”
Lunnen said filming went quite well at Schaefer's. “It was fantastic,” she said. “(Ranker is) wonderful.”
Among other area locations used in filming have included the End Zone and Smillie's Family Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant and Phillips' mother's home in Ruffsdale.
Parts of the End Zone's facility struck a chord with Lunnen.
“I just love the architecture inside,” she said. “It's very (1970s). They kind of left it as it is. It's very cinematic.”
Several western Pennsylvania residents have been cast as extras in the film.
“We definitely have a mix of Pittsburgh and Greensburg people,” Phillips said.
Lunnen described the movie as “drama-based.”
“She loses her father to suicide and what ends up happening creates a tension between her and her mother,” Lunnen explained. “She becomes separated from her and has this moment in her lifetime where it's her coming of age and she's growing from a teen to an adult, realizing all of the things her mother protected her from. She's able to mend all the broken things that happened from the suicide.”
That sums up the title of the movie pretty well.
“It's very representative of her and her mother,” Lunnen explained. “One divided by one is still one.”
Lunnen said Narrator Entertainment hopes to have the movie completed by June and then taken to the various film festivals.
But before then, Phillips has enjoyed the chance to return to his old stomping grounds to film portions of “1/1.”
“It's been great,” he said.
Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.