Clinton’s Stephanie Prestage hunkers down in a pew reading a book as Sampson teen Perry Daughtry leans over and gives it a tug. The two bicker briefly before being calmed down by a stern look from Elijah Chester in his role as Jim Daniels in the under production film “Tarnished Notes.”
Those scenes, along with dozens of others, were being filmed on location near Salemburg last week, as the cast and crew, including dozens of extras used for a church picnic, continued to bring to life words from a novel written by Sampson Independent Publisher and Editor Sherry Matthews.
Her novel, provisionally titled Hymn of Commitment, is a fictional account of the real-life murder of a Clinton minister of music, who was killed by his wife and their lover back in 1984. The film and book are both expected to be ready for release in early 2016.
Filming, which is currently under way on Finch Street, is expected to be completed late Friday evening, when the cast and crew will wrap the 18-day shoot. But production will continue here in Clinton as the editing process gets under way, a process that Matthews said is likely to take another 30 to 60 days.
“Once filming ends, the score and the music have to be added, and editing has to be completed. Like all of our amazing cast and crew, we have a stellar film editor, Ryan Risley, ready to add his magic,” Matthews said. “We’ve already had a small taste of that in a clip he put together for our wrap party last weekend. Seeing that made things so real … this is going to be an amazing movie.”
Matthews has high praise for everyone involved in the film and has continued to stress her gratitude for the film’s commitment to all things local, which has included utilizing dozens of vendors from Sampson County, pumping well over $300,000 back into the community.
“Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Sampson County and how much I want to give back some of that which has been given to me both through my years growing up here and since I’ve come back to work here. That my publisher and director was willing to film here in Sampson only made this magical experience even more special.”
From rental of the Thornton warehouse as a production office to utilization of transportation company Van-Go; the securing of local motel rooms for cast and crew to catering by restaurants in Sampson, including Piggy Wiggly, Jennifer’s, Salem Pizza, Little Caesar’s and Railroad Street Steakhouse; to cell phone service and printer needs, cleaning and even gas, thousands of dollars have gone back into the local economy.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see this film help others in Clinton and Sampson County,” Matthews said.
Clinton Mayor Lew Starling echoes those remarks, thanking the movie company for choosing Clinton as its location for the film.
“Number one, we are very pleased that this movie company decided to film here. We know they have choices to make, and with today’s technology, they could have gone anywhere. We greatly appreciate that they chose to come here.
“We are also very thankful that they chose to use so many of our local vendors, spending well over a quarter million dollars in our town. That has a good ripple effect,” Starling said.
The mayor also offered his thanks to the cast and crew for the “respectful way” they have handled the movie, not disrupting the town and its residents even as they worked to get their job done.
“They have been very respectful of the city and its quaintness; it’s been a very good experience.”
Matthews attributes all those things — from hiring of vendors to the way the film has run “like a well-oiled machine” to Roseboro native and Tarnished Notes Line Producer Monty Hobbs who, she said, made the movie possible.
“We absolutely could not have done this without Monty. He is our go-to guy for everything. Monty is a tremendous actor who I initially approached about playing a role in the film. But Mitchell (director Mitchell Maxwell) soon realized that Monty’s talents were not just in front of the camera and he told me we really needed him in a producer role.”
In that role, Matthews said, Hobbs made the film happen, securing the “talented and magnificent” crew that has brought the picture to life through sound, wardrobe, makeup, art and, of course, photography.
“We wouldn’t have this tremendous crew, or the lead cast, for that matter, without Monty’s expertise,” Matthews stressed. “And we wouldn’t have had the smooth sailing either. Monty’s had the most difficult of all tasks — to deliver this movie on time and on budget and he’s doing it without blinking an eye. This may be my first movie, but it didn’t take me long to realize neither of those tasks are easy, but Monty makes it look that way. He has this down to a science and I owe him a debt of gratitude for taking my wishes about keeping this as local as possible and making it happen.”
Matthews also talks with pride about the number of local cast members she was able to incorporate into the film, acting alongside the “great talents we have” in lead actors Cari Moskow, Elijah Chester and Ryan Joyner.
“Stephanie Prestage did an amazing job last week, as did Perry, Rachel Blanchard, Kathy Day and a host of extras who actually got small speaking roles, like Nick Owen and Shawn Godbold. And our Tarrville Choir, well I can’t begin to say enough about how wonderful they were. Under the direction of my dearest friend Gloria Edwards, whose talents abound, the choir was exactly what I had hoped and so much more.
“All of this is like a dream, really. It sounds corny, but it’s true. There is a magic to this that is hard to put into words. God has richly blessed me and he has allowed me, in turn, to give others an opportunity to share in this dream”