News Column

Young filmmakers dig 'Beneath the Surface,' use downtown Kilgore for movie's backdrop

May 25, 2013


May 25--Downtown Kilgore locales became temporary movie sets for local independent filmmaker Hannah Beets and her production crew of 20-plus friends.

Beets is director, producer, screenwriter and star of her second film, "Beneath the Surface." She borrowed the entrance of the Crim Theater to depict young people leaving a movie house. Nanny Goat's was an ideal location for actresses chatting in a beautician's scene. The front sidewalk of Downtown D'Lites featured an encounter between a young man, named Will, whose friendly greeting to a young woman, called Andry, is answered with curt indifference.

And Kilgore Bible Church, where Beets and most of her young crew are members, was a ready-made area for filming.

Beets is a film education and Bible student at LeTourneau, and expects to graduate this December. Already, she has one completed film on her resume and an award to prove its worth.

Daughter of Tom and P. J. Beets of Kilgore, the home-school Beets studied at Biola University in La Mirada, California. Through Le- Tourneau, she returned to The Golden State this spring to Los Angeles Film Studies Center to learn more basics of the trade.

Her "Beneath the Surface" is a drama on how patience, persistence and faith help Will and friends steer Andry's aloof attitude to a positive and constructive direction.

"It tells how people can triumph over differences, especially around people different from you," Beets explained.

Her Kilgore Bible friend Joel Alford portrays Will and Beets herself is the cold-hearted Andry.

To help her make Surface, Beets asked chums at church and through Facebook for assistance. Arrangements with the Kilgore businesses and locations were ironed out. Soon, The Group of Friends, which Beets dubbed this assembly, was in business.

Hezekiah Ainsworth, 15, of Henderson, "Holds the microphone stick and pushes the record button when we're ready to shoot." He met Beets at Kilgore Bible and after the producer talked with his mother, found himself with a job.

Sharon Brockway, like most of the young people working for Beets, is home schooled and met the filmmaker at church. The 12- year-old handles the slate: a cell phone, keeping with technology. Her sibling, Luke, at 10 is the youngest member of Beet's company. Luke is cast as Andry's little brother.

Big Sandy's Amanda Pendergast is production assistant and plays Jenny, a high school student in a scavenger hunt scene.

Holden Silvey helps with sound and does the background music recording. Antonio Rubio, whose real-life job at Downtown D'Lites helped get it in the movie, is the assistant director. When Beets is in front of the camera, Rubio takes charge and calls signals. Continuity is the task of Hannah Nelson, who makes sure the necessary props are in place and those in the last take are in the right places for the next take.

Alford, who moved to Kilgore from Flower Mound, Texas, picked up show biz from his father, Danny.

"He was in several theater productions," the son said. "And they're all for my work in Kilgore." Finished with high school in Flower Mound, Joel plans to study nursing at Pensacola Christian College in Florida.

Will's sister in Surface is embodied by Elise Silvey, also responsible for designing and producing the actor's costumes. Like Beets, Silvey is a LeTourneau student.

The Group of Friends is just that on and off camera. But like a major studio, they work early in the morning, long hours in their free time and well into the night if necessary. Beets will allow suggestions, and her scripts come to being "With a lot of help."

"Hannah bosses us around. There are scenes we re-do and re-do," Rubio remarked goodnaturedly. "But I like this job and it's pretty cool being in this movie."

Pendergast has known Beets for eight years and was flattered when the director asked her help with the movie. Pendergast has no regrets.

"Hannah is fun to work with," the production assistant grinned.

Surface has "Several more hours of filming," said Beets. She is hoping to meet this summer's deadline to enter the 21-and-Under division at the Josiah Media Festival in San Antonio this year.

She has won before. Beets' 2010 debut film, "Such Subtleties," captured a Bronze Remi Award at the Houston WorldFest competition.

"That film told how small choices can really affect one's life."

Even with her current project unfinished, Beets has a Christmas movie, The Point, on her mind's storyboard and another film project down the line.

After she graduates. Beets will put temporarily put motion pictures in the can and return to LeTourneau to earn a master's in education.

"Lord willing, I will then teach in grade schools and also work with underprivileged children," she hoped.

But she will not forsake the director's chair.

"I'd love to be involved with film, still."

For now, Hannah Beets will stay on Surface until the buttered popcorn is ready.

"I am very thankful for my cast and crew who willingly jumped in and worked hard -- even with little to none previous experience," Beets praised. "God provided and cared for us! I am also very thankful for the gracious and generous people who have allowed us to film in Downtown Kilgore and at their stores!"

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