News Column

Local theater actors find roles in movie being made in Dalton

August 25, 2013


Aug. 25--When Logan Alexander Smith showed up for his first audition for a role in a movie, he was green, and not just because he had never been in a movie before.

Smith was literally green.

Smith, 20, a native of Whitfield County, had been performing as Shrek in "Shrek the Musical" at The Colonnade in Ringgold.

"I woke up, had blown my voice out, and I couldn't get the green paint off me," he said. "I said, 'I realize I'm green.' Then I explained 'Shrek' to them. ... I had to do (the audition) green and in a scratchy whisper."

So when Smith got a call that he had landed a role in "The Locksmith," an independent horror film being shot in Dalton, he was surprised.

Smith was cast as Jay Roundtree, a 35-year-old locksmith. His character is not the only locksmith in the film. He won't say much about his role because "it's very tied in with the plot of the movie."

The movie, about a locksmith who goes on a killing spree, is directed by Dalton High School graduate Ryan Miningham, whose behind-the-scene credits include "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and the 2001 remake of "Planet of the Apes." Miningham and his crew held an open casting call in Dalton to help fill roles they wanted played by authentic Southerners.

Many local residents who landed a role in the film have focused on theater. So being in a movie is a new experience from which they hope to learn.

"I've only ever done theater before," Smith said. "This is a lot more slow-paced, and it's more subtle. When you're on stage you have to be as loud and big as possible. With this, you are trying to be as low-key as you can. You don't want to be too big or too cheesy."

Chase Parker, a 2006 graduate of Murray County High School who has been in several local theater productions, is playing the role of Ernie, the small-town coroner who has found himself in over his head.

"He's never had to deal with anything like it," said Parker, whose scenes were filmed at The Daily Citizen on Tuesday. "He's probably having some sort of nervous breakdown going from dealing with the heart attacks to foreign objects being shoved into body cavities. I'm in three scenes -- in probably the dirtiest morgue office you'll ever find."

Parker was an extra in the movie "42" about baseball legend Jackie Robinson that was filmed in Chattanooga. He's also been in several local independent films.

"I'll always enjoy any set I'm on," he said. "In '42' there were literally thousands of us. In that one, we were just one of many, many, many. But we got to watch the full production unfold. ... This is not a huge production, but it's a very well-trained, very talented group of people."

Filming "The Locksmith" was Richard Bryan's first experience on the set of a movie. Bryan, who is on the board and is heavily involved in plays at the Artistic Civic Theatre (ACT), has lived in several areas where movies are frequently filmed, including Atlanta and New England.

But Bryan, originally from Louisiana, had never auditioned for a movie before.

"If you're not in the movie community, you usually don't see there's an open casting call," Bryan said. "It's usually done with agencies. I don't have an agent. I'm just Joe Schmoe from down the street. I thought I was just going to be an extra, and then I landed a speaking role."

Bryan plays Mayor Paul Elrod Jr., who is "not the most upstanding man in the world." His scenes were filmed Wednesday evening at the old Cellar Restaurant building.

"I've been doing theater most of my life," said Bryan, who has a master's degree in theater. "We all watch TV. We all go to the movies. And you just get a different appreciation when you're on set, to see how it works."

Bryan was nervous heading into filming.

"Anytime you work with directors in theater, they are very supportive and tell you to make this change and make that change," he said. "It's really the same thing. ... I was like, 'This is just acting. It's just a different process.'"

In theater, performers have one chance, but in movies, the same scene is shot from several different angles.

Bryan enjoyed the experience and hopes he has the chance to be in a movie again.

"It was a very interesting experience," he said. "I would audition for another movie in a heartbeat."

Parker said he wasn't surprised Dalton was chosen as a location for this film.

"There's a great deal going on in Georgia... and in Chattanooga," he said. "There are a number of opportunities for film makers and actors. There have been a lot of opportunities and great films come through."

He hopes this movie brings more filming to Dalton.

"I'm very thankful that Ryan and Jamie (Miningham) decided to come back to Dalton to shoot this film," Parker said.

Smith, a 2011 graduate of Murray County High School, isn't as optimistic about the opportunities to be in movies in this area.

"I'm trying to make acting work as a career," he said. "That's what I'd like to do. It's kind of a silly aspiration."


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