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Movie Being Shot ‘Within the Dark’ of Clarion County

Monday, November 11, 2013 @ 11:11 PM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

Within the Dark posterCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Principal photography has started shooting for “Within the Dark,” a psychological thriller movie about a doctor who moves to the Clarion area and starts seeing supernatural things.

There was nothing supernatural about how Clarion was selected for the movie location.  Clarion natives with considerable experience in the movie and television industry decided it was about time they brought a movie to Clarion.

Drew Gabreski is the director and Jay Lavely is the line producer for the independent movie that is aimed at the science fiction thriller genre.  Lavely adds that there are no zombies, but some shadowy creatures.

IMG_7512 (On left, Clarion Area class of 1989 at the movie site: David Lambert, Jay Lavely, Rachael Smith-McMurray, and Drew Gabreski.)

“Drew and I have been talking about bringing a production back here for years because we’re both in the business, but we’re on different coasts,” said Lavely. “He’s on the west coast and I’m on the east coast.  He had the script and found the financing for it, so we came together and brought it back to Clarion.”

In addition to coming back to their hometown, shooting a movie in Clarion County offers many economic advantages.

“The economics of bringing it to Clarion means the money goes a little farther,” continued Lavely.  “We worked out deals with a lot of the local businesses, Quality Inn, the restaurants and the location sites, whether they’re free, or minimal, or we pay some of the staff to stay later.  You can’t get that anywhere else.  It’s just too expensive to rent.”

Another Clarion native, 2010 Clarion Area High School graduate Gus Babington, is an assistant production manager and an extra in the movie. He recently graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in digital video production and film-making.

Movie Cast

brian-krause-303360Despite some rumors about Johnny Depp sightings at the Clarion Holiday Inn and Sheetz in Clarion, the movie cast does include some notable stars of well-knows television shows and Grade B films.

Leading the cast is Brian Krause (Charmed, Mad Men, Closer), along with Jaimi Paige (Medium, Peacock), Louis Herthum (Murder She Wrote), and others.  The cast even includes Clarion native Todd Goble.

Check here for complete cast information.

Locations Help Make the Movie

IMG_7497Locations can make or break a movie, and Clarion County is providing an ideal setting for the thriller.

Shooting will run until about the end of November and include the Clarion County Human Services Building (old hospital on Seventh Avenue in Clarion) a rail to trails tunnel in New Bethlehem, Fletcher’s Garage in Fryburg, the Clarion Borough Police Station, Piney Dam tunnel, a private farm for two days, the private home of a local dentist that will serve as the exterior and interior for the home of the lead character, and the Climax tunnels near New Bethlehem.

“The locations are what it’s all about; the look of the town and the area,” said Lavely.  “The locations are great, and everybody has been opening their doors and asking us what do we need. The local resources are tremendous, whether they’re people from Pittsburgh who know how to do it or people that we grew up with. For instance, the Clarion police have been great because we grew up with one of them, Officer Shawn Zerfoss.”

The Clarion connection continues throughout the movie project with more fellow 1989 graduates of Clarion Area High School, including actor Rachael Smith-McMurray and production assistant David Lambert.

Smith McMurray has been a professional performer for 20 years, is director of entertainment and development at USO of Metropolitan New York, and does a little bit of everything.

Lambert is a driver and production assistant, has extensive experience in film and digital media productions, and lives in Orlando, Florida.

“We’re all using our skills and coming together, whether we’re acting or producing or directing,” said Lavely. “We’ve all stayed in touch or kept up with each other on Facebook.”

The movie is a first for Gabreski, and Lavely and puts the two into the hot seat.

“This is our own project,” said Lavely.  “We both have other projects, but if we don’t work on it, it doesn’t get done. This is our first movie.   We’ve done our small projects, but this is the first at this scale.  I’m working on a side project right now, but it’s not nearly this big.”

Another key player, in addition to writer Gerald Nott, in making the movie is producer James Kitell who worked with investors to make sure the movie is financed until completion.

“We wanted to make sure we had enough to do everything.”

What’s Next for the Movie?

The future of the movie after editing is completed early next year could take a couple of different directions.

One is going through distribution sales agents who start talking to all the buyers, whether it be Warner Brothers, Universal, foreign companies, or television studios.

There’s also a chance with networks like the Si Fi Channel that might be a good home for a chiller movie.

But there’s also a window of opportunity, after completion of editing next year, in which if the finished movie is “something big and good,” and Lavely adds that the preliminary footage does look good, individual offers could come from Warner Brother and Universal or smaller companies they own to do a limited theatrical release.

“It might take a little longer like six months to get into theaters, but they might like it so much that they want to premier it in September and run it through the holidays,” said Lavely.   “That’s the brass ring because you’re on the map, and with opening grosses, you could do really well like Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch, the small movies that really blow up big.”

“The investors do these kinds of movies all over the world.  They have bigger movies and smaller movies, and this is probably one of their medium or smaller movies.  If we have a good relationship with them, we could do another whether it could be here or somewhere else, but on a bigger budget.  Hopefully back here.”

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