Repeat Role

Posted: April 25, 2014

Rural Pen

“Picture’s up!” “Rolling.”


“Sound speed.” “One, take one.”


“Action!”


Thus, on the morning of Good Friday we began shooting “Repeater,” a short film starring David Straithairn, Brian Franklin and Joseph Huffman.


You may have heard of Lurid Pictures. It’s a local production company that does promotional, commercial and music videos. They made the “Heart of the Arts” video about Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.


“Repeater,” written and directed by Lurid’s Wade Vanover, is the company’s first short film.


Adapted from a short story by Chris Offutt, titled “Target Practice,” the film follows Ray (Franklin), a Kentuckian who has recently returned home after working in a Detroit factory for more than a decade. Ray has not seen or spoken to his father, named Franklin (Straithairn), since he left for Michigan, but when he buys a repeating rifle from the garbage man (Huffman), Ray uses the gun as an excuse to get back in touch with Dad.


Franklin shows up in the driveway, rifle in hand. Dealing with financial and marital failures, Ray searches for redemption in the form of his father’s respect. While the two men shoot rifles, they discuss Franklin’s father and grandfather. Ray starts to understand his father’s fears, his views on life and family, as well as why he might never gain the respect for which he yearns.


In the quiet pauses between firing weapons and conversation, the emotional tension between father and son grows. Finally, it bursts out in a violent, yet cathartic moment of fear and aggression.


We shot the film in Elkton, Weyers Cave and Mount Sidney. The crew consisted of mostly locals  but some from Richmond, South Carolina, Maine and West Virginia, also. I served as script supervisor.


As we were filming in my neighborhood Saturday morning, my house was used for “holding” —where the actors get into make-up and wardrobe, and wait for the crew to prepare the location.


It was quite a thrill to have Straithairn in my home. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Edward R. Murrow in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” but I know him best as Noah Vosen in “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “The Bourne Legacy,” and as William Seward in “Lincoln.”


Straithairn played with my dog, strolled around the property with binoculars and asked about my vintage family photos. On set, it was a thrill to watch him work. Even for this low-budget independent film, he gave a masterful performance.


Brian Franklin, based in Los Angeles, also has several movie credits to his name. Most recently, I saw him on TV’s “2 Broke Girls.” Huffman, originally from the Valley, is a New York actor.


Like most movies, “Repeater” was shot out of sequence. We started with the shooting scene, in a clearing on a mountain in an Elkton hollow. After this terrible winter, the dirt road going up there was in bad shape. It amazed me how we transported 25 people, tons of equipment and several meals without a mishap.


Holding is also where we ate our meals. This is the third movie I’ve worked on where a producer’s proud and willing mom has served as cook. Alex Kent’s parents, Ann and John Kent, came from Richmond and lugged coolers of food and drinks around to holding places and locations.


Most of the filming was done outdoors, so the rain-free spring weather was a blessing. As the sun began to set gloriously on Easter Sunday evening, we wrapped.

Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney. Contact her at RuralPen@aol.com, on Facebook or care of the DN-R.