Actress Hollis McLachlan returning to Valley to produce film
Hollywood actress Hollis (Zemany) McLachlan will return to her hometown next week to film her first movie as executive director.
McLachlan, 26, will begin production of her family comedy movie "Pie Head: A Kinda' True Story." They will begin shooting scenes Monday in California, Pa., with additional filming at Washington & Jefferson College and at the Nemacolin Castle in Brownsville.
The film is being produced by Joey Travolta's Inclusion Films, which provides opportunities in the film industry for those with disabilities and special needs.
In addition to McLachlan, the film will co-star actress/comedian Geri Jewell of TVs "Deadwood" and "The Facts of Life." Jewell has cerebral palsy.
McLachlan, who is co-producing the film with her mother, Louann Petrucci, said she is excited to work where she grew up.
Her father, Spandy Zemany, and grandparents Lou and Prue Petrucci, live in California. Her mother moved from Canonsburg to Hollywood to be close to her.
Hollis McLachlan lived in California until age 9, when she moved to Canonsburg.
She is a 2002 Canon-McMillan High School graduate. She majored in theater and English at Washington & Jefferson College, graduating magna cum laude in 2006.
After graduation, she set out for Los Angeles with no money but big dreams — similar to the setting for "Pie Head."
She said the movie is based on a "small sliver of her life" after she moved out West. McLachlan said she initially planned on making the film a comedy, but soon realized that many of the obstacles she encountered struck a chord with others in her same shoes.
"Anyone who is facing the same issues about what they are going to do with their lives and how to achieve their goals can relate to this film," she said.
A member of the Screen Actors Guild, McLachlan is executive director, co-producer, co-writer and star of the film.
While they are not operating on a large budget, McLachlan says she is hoping the film will open more doors for her in Hollywood.
"It's exhausting work that is seven days a week, 18 hours a day," she said. "But it's also very exciting and rewarding. It's a labor of love."
She said parts of the film will be shot in the California home of her grandparents, Lou and Prue Petrucci.
McLachlan said their home has "amazing prop stuff" and that they have been good sports about turning their home into a film set.
"They are amazing people who would do anything for me," she said. "My grand-mother even has a small line."
McLachlan lives in Glenndale, Calif., near Los Angeles, with her husband Liam McLachlan, a former member of The Ten Tenors, an Australian male singing group.
While she is in the Mon Valley, she will be cruising around in a motor home she bought for filming.
She has appeared in numerous films, and has just finished filming "Hollywood N.O.S." Some of her other work includes roles in "Legally Blonde 3," and "Karma," which was filmed in India.
McLachlan says she has traveled around the world, but believes southwestern Pennsylvania is among the most beautiful places.
"This area has an amazing cinematic look, especially in the summer and fall. This place is very unique," she said. "When you live here, it's easy to not look at it that way, but it really is a great place."