Oct. 10--Before artist Phil McKenney turned to paint and brushes to explore his creative side, he first tried his hand with other mediums.
During the early 1980s, he taught himself to make animated films. The six cartoons were a labor of love--
a very tedious and time-intensive labor of love.
His first, "Herman and the Cricket," took the then-ABC store manager more than two years to complete.
"There is a lot involved in doing animation, and eventually I'd had enough," said McKenney.
His interest in film also led to him writing screenplays, though none led to fame and fortune in Hollywood.
Again he taught himself the complexities of an art form and set out to make his own movie.
"I wrote a short screenplay for a movie called 'The Intruder.' We used local actors, some professional, some from Richmond and from the Westmoreland Players," said McKenney.
The 1993 short was an eerie psychological thriller shot entirely in a house where local sports legend and NFL player Otis Douglas had lived. Douglas died in 1989.
"His son agreed to let us shoot the film there. The entire seven-minute film is set at night and entirely inside the house," said McKenney.
Night was simulated during daytime filming by taping black plastic garbage bags to the windows.
After four days of set and costume design, the filming was done. It would be months before McKenney would finish editing.
"But then I had a finished product. We had sound and color and even a credit sequence," he said.
That was the end of his moviemaking career. He'd had enough of the time-consuming and costly film production and went on to a formal education in art at VCU at the age of 41.
"The Intruder" was put in a can and stuck in his attic. Until now.
The long-overdue world premi re of the film takes place Friday night.
The red-carpet affair will include many of the actors in the film, a discussion with Otis Douglas Jr. and McKenney, as well the showing of his first cartoon, "Herman and the Cricket."
WANT TO GO?
What: "The Intruder"
Where: General's Ridge Winery, 1618 Weldons Drive, Hague
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Tickets/info: 804/493-9030; generalsridgevineyard.com
Craig Schulin: 540/374-5403 -- email@example.com
(c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.)
Visit The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.) at www.fredericksburg.com/flshome
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