Film project comes back to hometown

Bo McGuire, second from left, instructs the actors in his student film Dec. 31. McGuire brought a crew to his hometown of Hokes Bluff to shoot where the story of his short film is set.Bo McGuire, second from left, instructs the actors in his student film Dec. 31. McGuire brought a crew to his hometown of Hokes Bluff to shoot where the story of his short film is set.

By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Hokes Bluff’s Bo McGuire brought cameras, crew and cast to Hokes Bluff during the between-Christmas-and-New-Year’s break to capture images for a student film project.

McGuire is a student at New York University Film School, and this short film is his second-year student project.

His film – which has a PG-13 title – is known as “*hitbird” for G-rated publications. It’s the story of two southern girls rumored to be half-sisters, who share a history of success as a singing duo. The more talented girl remains in Hokes Bluff, while her better-funded sister heads to Nashville. The short film is the story of their reunion in Hokes Bluff, and their dawning realization that they need each other.

McGuire was in Hokes Bluff in August to screen a 12-minute version shot in New York, with the goal of generating some local funding to bring a crew back to film on location.

After a standing-room only screening at the Hokes Bluff library, McGuire was able to return for a few days last week to shoot the film.

On Dec. 31, McGuire and his crew (film students work as crew on one another’s films) were filming an outdoor scene, with actresses Megan Stein of Panama City, Fla., and Lynsey Buckelew of Dothan, reclining on an old car, talking as they shared beer and cigarettes.

Some of the people working on the film are from NYU, McGuire said, and others are people he knows from Montevallo. He said it was great mix of Alabama people and New York people.

McGuire said the spot where they filmed is a close friend’s father’s property. They were able to shoot at two houses in the area, as well as the scene with the junked car beside a barn.

“You couldn’t get any of this in New York,” McGuire said, “even if you got out of the city to shoot.”

McGuire, producer Roger Gregory and assistant director Joyce Sherri, all spoke of the hospitality they received in Bo’s hometown.

“Bo’s really great,” Sherri said. “We’ve felt very welcome here.” She said the crew would finish shooting on New Year’s Day and head back to New York.

McGuire joked about the “many favors (that) have been called in,” but he said people were very anxious to help with the film, from allowing them to shoot on locations to whatever else they needed.

“Even down to food,” McGuire said. “People have been giving us casseroles.”

When he talked about wanting to have a New Year’s Eve bonfire for the crew and the cast, McGuire said his family and friends took care of all the preparations for it.

Gregory said conditions had been good for the filming. While it was overcast for the outdoor work Dec. 31, he said that was a benefit. “When you’re shooting still photos you want the light, but for film this is better.” He said the crew was shooting on film – not videotape.

“It means the images will be really beautiful,” Gregory explained. As student filmmakers, he said, they were able to rent equipment to be used for the shoot. The owners know that the students know what they are doing, and that they will take care of the equipment, he said.

“’Black Swan’ was shot with this very camera,” Gregory said.

Like McGuire, Gregory was pleased that they were able to film on in Hokes Bluff. In addition to improving the film, he said, shooting on location is a good learning experience for the student filmmakers.

“And it’s been nice to be out in the fresh air,” Gregory said.

When filming is done, McGuire explained, there still will be a lot of work to do on the film. After it is edited, he said, there will be a marathon of students films screened at NYU. The filmmakers will get feedback on their films and may have more editing and work to do.

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