Coal baron's former home recast as 'Gore Orphanage'

| Saturday, June 28, 2014, 2:01 a.m.

Parents, actors and members of a movie production team gathered on Friday at Greystone Manor in Scottdale to take care of paperwork and to have still photos taken and costumes fitted before filming begins today.

Greystone Manor, at the corner of Chestnut and Mulberry streets, is the location for the movie “Gore Orphanage.”

It was the first home H.C. Frick built after he left West Overton in the 19th century as he developed his coal and coke empire. Later, Frick found it necessary to build a bigger mansion in Pittsburgh.

The movie is based on an urban legend, which claims that in Vermilion, Ohio, in the 1800s a fire destroyed an orphanage and killed many of the children, whose ghosts haunt the ruins. Most of the movie will be set in rural Ohio in the 1930s.

The movie is a joint venture of Cody Knotts, producer, and Emily Lapisardi, director, who were recently married and live in Uniontown.

Most of the cast members are children. The youngest are 8, which brought about special concerns because of Pennsylvania's child labor laws.

Kirk Holman of California, Washington County, who has been friends with Knotts for many years, said he is helping because he has a great deal of respect for the talent of Knotts and Lapisardi. Holman's son, Charles, 31, is handling the paperwork, including making sure all the work permits for the child actors are in order.

Charles Holman said the recently revised Pa. Child Labor Act is strict. For example, children ages 6 to 8 may not work more than 8 hours in a 24-hour day and may not work past 12:30 a.m. on a non-school day. They may not begin work before 5 a.m., and 12 hours must elapse between the time of dismissal and the time of call on the following day.

“The work rules are stiff, but were needed,” Charles Holman said.

Kirk Holman said the governor's office has been helping the film's officials keep in line with the laws and regulations.

There were many children to check on Friday morning.

Ray Wade, the still photographer who acts as second cameraman and gaffer, has worked with Knotts on four films.

Emma Smith, 9, of South Park, was waiting to have her picture taken under the watchful eyes of her mother, Dawn. Smith is playing the part of orphan Nellie. She was ready to go on Friday, suffering just a bit from the itchiness of the skirt of her costume.

Brandon Mangin, 8, of Taylorstown was calm as he awaited his turn.

Jeremy Kaluza, 13, from the Cleveland area, speaks Polish and will be allowed to talk on camera in that language from time to time, according to Knotts. Kaluza has the part of Harmon, one of the bullies in the orphanage. Jeremy's father, Joey, originally from Poland, was watching the activity with his son.

Nora Hoyle, 8, will have the part of Ester. She appeared nervous as she waited with Emma and Brandon.

Twins Makenzie and Nicolette Cloutier, 10, of East Millsboro were in matching costumes with pigtails.

There are adults in the film, as well.

Bill Townsend is back in the area. Computer enthusiasts will remember him for his work in developing search engine Lycos, which he sold to Google. He has the part of Ernst, the German janitor. He lives in Pasadena, Calif., but was happy to see a film being done in Western Pennsylvania, “especially out in this area.”

Nick LaMantia of Pittsburgh enjoys acting. He owns Nickel 17 Productions in Pittsburgh. He plays a 1930s baseball player.

Greystone Manor also stars in the film.

“We're fortunate to have been able to use the location,” Knotts said. “It needed a lot of attention.”

Local people, together with parents of the young actors, have been working on the house, eager to help and have their children involved.

Joe Keyser, 59, of Everson, a member of the Everson Volunteer Fire Department, has been painting, cleaning and fixing in and around the house. He began working on the house two months ago.

Keyser volunteered, declining pay, and was given a part in the movie as Gramps, the chef. He said most of the work is done.

Lapisardi said shooting at Greystone should wrap up by the end of July, then work goes into the post-production phase, when editing begins.

Lapisardi and Knotts will work with composer Jason Keefer, director of music at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, to score the film. Lapisardi said that phase — editing and the score — will take about a year.

Knotts said the caretakers of the house have let the production company paint the walls to set the scene.

Karl Polacek is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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