Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.
Some of Wyoming County’s best known landmarks are gracing the big screen in “Hollow Creek,” a mystery thriller that uses the Itmann Company Store building and the old county jail as major locations.
The feature film will be shown during a special screening at Marquee Cinemas in Beckley Nov. 23 at 5 p.m. Cost is a $10 per person donation. Souvenir posters will be available for sale after the screening for $20 to $25.
An “after party” will follow that Saturday at 9 p.m. at Ole Jose Mexican Grill and Restaurant in Pineville; cost is $10.
Tickets are available from Laura McKinney at 304-923-3781 or after 6 p.m. at 304-732-8632; or from Terry Houck, in Mullens, at 304-294-6622; or at the restaurant.
Guisela Moro of Newfoundland Films, wrote the screenplay, directed, produced and stars in the movie, which is funded, in part, with a grant from the Burt Reynolds Film Institute in Florida.
Moro and her male co-star, Steve Daron, are both actors in Reynolds’ master class at the institute.
Burt Reynolds, whose acclaimed acting career has spanned more than five decades and has won numerous prestigious awards for his acting skills, will make a special appearance as a wealthy coal baron in the movie.
It was a wrong turn more than four years ago that brought Moro back to Wyoming County to film her movie.
She bought a Newfoundland puppy from Laura McKinney, who also serves as a deputy circuit clerk. Moro and McKinney became fast friends. As a result, McKinney became production coordinator on the movie, assisting with everything from scouting locations to sounding board.
“I drove by the area for the first time (four years ago) and fell in love with the scenery,” Moro said.
“I remember then, saying to myself, that one day I was going to write a script based on this amazing, unique place.”
“She told me she was going to write a movie and base it here, but I just laughed at her,” McKinney recalls. “Then, she did.”
The movie is set around “a New York writer, who, seeking inspiration for his latest horror novel, retreats to a remote cabin in the Appalachian mountains. Accompanied by his secret lover, a twist of fate turns the romantic interlude into a real life abduction murder when his lover mysteriously goes missing and he becomes the prime suspect.”
The old store building once served as the center of community life for Itmann’s isolated coal mining community. At one time, the structure housed the company store, post office, pool room, barber shop, doctor’s office, along with apartments for company employees. The facility has been vacant for several years.
“I don’t think Hollywood could build anything better,” Moro emphasized. “It’s going to be like an extra character in the movie — that’s how important it is to the movie.”
In addition to the landmarks, several people from the area also play parts in the film.