Local teens take on super hero roles

Local teens take on super hero roles

Contrary to popular belief that a teenager’s attention span is only as long as it takes to send a text, a group of 10 young men and women hung together over a six-month period to beat the cliché and produce a 16-1/2 minute action film.

The Pride, filmed in several locations locally, percolated for some time with D-Life, a youth group at St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

“Our former youth pastor had the idea two or three years ago of a super hero movie and we’ve finally realized that vision…to take the strengths of the youth group with individual super hero strengths and work together for a common goal,” said Colin Montgomery, a member of the cast.

“The theme is about people teaming up to achieve a greater good, more than what one person can do on their own,” echoed actor Pete Russell.

Ashley Smith, producer/director, wrote the script for The Pride and, wanting to provide the most realistic experience he could for the teens, went to Miami to observe a film on set.

“Ashley wrote this amazing script and it captures our personalities as if we were super heroes,” said Patricia Montgomery. “It was easy to play our roles because it’s kind of like we’re already in it.”

The first day of shooting began on the river in April. “The opening scene is on the river with a damsel in distress,” said Karsten Hunger, another cast member. “The boat scene was very stressful. I was out there on a Sunday from eight in the morning until 4:30, in the sun.”

There was a lag in production, then came fight choreography rehearsals in June and July, with more shooting in August, and again in September and November.

“We learned that it’s much better to do it over a three-day weekend than one day this month and one day the next month,” said Smith.

“You have to have consistency in a movie, so we always made sure that the person was always wearing exactly what they were wearing in the scene before,” added Hunger. “We put everything in a bag, made sure it was together for the next shooting. Minor details really matter in a film.”

Breaking logs, not legs

The acting wasn’t always a piece of cake for the teens. Sometimes a scene required a distinct move outside of familiar emotional or physical territory.

According to Patricia Montgomery, it was the fight scenes that took her out of her comfort zone. “We had to learn the combat choreography. It was interesting to learn how to make it look like you were punching someone but to not do it. I had not done that stuff before, so learning combat…I feel better now knowing that I can do it. Master Bill [Chiodo] taught everyone individual styles of combat and how to perfect it.”

Sierra Stone, a senior at Lee High School, noted “I had to break a log on someone’s back. I didn’t want to hurt him. It wasn’t a hard log, it was dead, but it was hard learning the right moves, how to position it, not to hurt me or the person I was attacking.”

As with professional productions, each scene required many takes – another lesson learned in the art of filmmaking.

“I was shocked at how long it takes to film just one scene,” commented Sarah Duggan. “I really appreciate more how much effort it takes.”

Andrew Russell, the youngest cast member, noted that their own reactions sometimes took the production off schedule. “It took quite a few takes to look menacing in one scene after we chased the terrorists because I was laughing for about 20 of those takes,” he said.

With (more than) a little help

In addition to the 10 young adults, there were nine others in the cast, mostly parents who took on the roles of the villains, plus a crew of 27 to ensure that the film was done as professionally as possible.

Jamie Russell and Wendi Hunger, parents of cast members, were also part of the crew. Russell was in charge of Craft Services (catering) and marketing, while Hunger served as assistant director.

Hunger noted that there were rewards for both cast and crew, youth and adults. “The project promoted relationships between the youth and the adults on a peer level,” she said. “The goal is to create another program that other churches can use to bridge the gap between high school youth, college-age adults and parents.”

There were also local professionals involved in the production and post-production of The Pride, including Jeff Green, Director of Photography, from Jeff Green Films; Bill Chiodo, Stunt/Fight Coordinator, from Julington Academy of Martial Arts; John Harret, Sound / Grip, from Prodigal 15 Productions; Eric Peck, Editor; Kevin Crainshaw, Music / Score, Associate for Worship and the Arts, St. John’s Presbyterian Church; and Rick White, Photography, from Oelridge Video & Photography.

“We hope this will be an outreach to teens in the community,” concluded Russell.

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