Victor “Shaun” Hall has been an aspiring filmmaker for most of his life, but he never really had the opportunity to follow those dreams. But now that his daughter is grown and he has more free time, Victor has decided it is time to pick up the writing pen and camera and get to work. That is why he and his niece, an aspiring actress from Pike County who has starred in several Hollywood productions, have placed all their eggs in one basket to create a new and upcoming production company in Eastern Kentucky: Left Fork Productions.
“If I would have had the internet as a resource when I graduated high school, I would have went to film school,” Victor said. “But I graduated a few years before it became popular, and I didn’t really know what opportunities were out there.”
But he didn’t let his lack of oppotunity stop him. With a dream in his heart and Screenplays for Dummies in his hands, he got to work. He worked so hard that he believes Left Fork Productions’ first project, a screenplay he wrote entitled Mizpah, is so good that it may launch the company’s career.
Mizpah, which is an old Hebrew word that can be found in the Old Testament of any King James Bible, means “watchtower” or “the act of watching.” A pretty catchy name for the psychological thriller which Victor describes as one man’s journey through the rabbit hole of life.
And to make things even more interesting, Victor says the plot-line is not completely fictionalized.
“It’s mostly based on true events,” Hall said. “I had to weave together dialogue and situations in between to make these events fit together. But almost everything that happens in the film has either happened to me or someone I know, sprinkled with a little fiction.”
One of Victor’s biggest supporting in his writing is his neice and fellow owner of Left Fork Productions: Grace Victoria Cox. Grace spends most of her time in Hollywood as an up-and-coming star and is known mostly for her role Under the Dome.
“I sent the screenplay to a few people I know who would be most critical of me,” Victor said. “When you do something like this, you don’t want to share it with too many people, but you need feedback to see what other people are thinking. Grace was one of the few people I sent the script to, and she told me this: I read scripts for a living. I read through up to 20 a day. There aren’t many that keep my attention long enough that I want to keep reading, but Mizpah did. It’s very Tarantino-ish.”
Tarantino is a reference Victor says he hears a lot (Quentin Tarantino is an American filmmaker whose films are characterized by non-linear storylines, satirical subject matter, and an aestheticization of violence), and that is exciting to him. However, he doesn’t let the talk go to his head
“I still have times when I go back and edit some of the things I wrote to make it more realistic because I think that’s important,” Victor said. “The setting is in eastern Kentucky, so one of the many things I talk about in the screenplay is the drug problem. In no means do I glorify it — it’s more about a man who is in recovery — but I felt like anything about the area that did not touch on the subject would be unrealistic.”
Victor is currently in the process of deciding when to shoot the film, which was originally on track for June 2016.
“My mentor, Shannon Blackburn, has really helped me out in this aspect,” Victor said. “We want to use as much local talent as possible, so he set up a time for us to hold a casting call at Jenny Wiley Theatre.”
Victor says the original appointment was set for the middle of March, but that date will probably be pushed back.
“I didn’t think we were going to have everything together in time,” Victor said. “This is a great film and a great piece of work, and I don’t want to take any shortcuts. I want everything to be quality. At the beginning of the year, it didn’t look like we were going to have the equipment and resources in time to start shooting this summer like we originally planned, so I put it off. But now it looks like everything is just working together so great and things are falling into place.”
He has found a young man from Tennessee to shoot and edit the film, an asset he wasn’t sure he would be able to find. And although he has not yet made a final decision on when production will begin, he says casting will more than likely be within the next two months .
“We really want to use as much local talent as possible,” Victor said. “That’s with the acting, the technical aspect, sound, lighting… everything! And to further that sentiment, around 90 percent of the shooting will be done locally as well, in the Virgie area of Pike County.”
Victor says he already has most of the scenes set up and ready to go.
“I think this is going to be a great opportunity for any aspiring talent in the area,” Victor said. “With Grace on board as part owner of the production company and a guest-role in the film, we’re already going to have our foot in the door in Hollywood.”
You can’t convince him that Mizpah won’t be a hit, but Victor may describe success a little different than most.
“For me, this will be successful if we can make it to some independent film festivals, if any of the actors receive accolades, if we receive any small, regional awards… Any of that would be great,” Victor said.
Although there is not yet a set date for casting, anyone interested in a role in the film can contact Victor at 606-2132978 or [email protected]
A full list of major cast members is below:
Jake (Lead): Male, 27-41, Caucasian — man on the verge of losing his mind; very paranoid guy.
Menta (Lead): Female, 25-40, Caucasian — country girl; Jake’s wife.
Chloe (Supporting): Female, 22-34, Caucasian — Jake’s girlfriend.
Jen (Supporting): Female, 33-46, Caucasian — Jake’s sister.
Durag (Supporting): Male, 30-41, Caucasian — drug dealer.
Dr. Light (Supporting): Male, 60-81, Caucasian — must have a white beard; taller gentleman preferred.
Karissa Blackburn is a news reporter for the Pike County Post. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-784-7329.