Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts.
Purchasing a puppy from a local breeder brought Guisela Moro to Wyoming County and launched the creation of “Hollow Creek.”
Founder of Newfoundland Films, Moro 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.
A former Latino soap opera star, Moro was inspired by the rural landscapes and old buildings of Wyoming County, she said.
“I picked up Brandy (the Newfoundland puppy for which her company is named) over four years ago from Laura McKinney, the breeder, and now my dear friend, at her farmhouse in Pineville,” Moro recalled.
“After driving through the coal mine area, I fell in love with the landscaping and locations.
“The day I met (McKinney), the first thing I said when I came out of the car was, ‘I’m in love with this place and some day I will make a movie here.’
“She laughed, probably thought I was crazy,” Moro said. “That same day, on the drive back to Washington, D.C., with my puppy Brandy in the back seat, I came up with the script storyline.”
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.”
Moro plays the secret lover and Steve Daron portrays the male lead. Both are 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.
Moro did not expect Reynolds to become part of the movie.
“I dreamed of it,” she emphasized, “but, back then, did not have a clue how lucky we would get.
“Mr. Reynolds gives a riveting, powerful special appearance performance that adds so much to ‘Hollow Creek.’
“We’ll forever be grateful to him for accepting being part of the ‘Hollow Creek.’
Last week, in the final phase of moving making, Moro was in California promoting the film to the American Film Market — an effort to sell the film and reach a successful distribution deal.
“If I were to chose one main thing (for viewers to take away from the film), I want people to be moved by the story and characters,” she explained.
“Art is a very personal journey for each person,” Moro emphasized. “I do want people to be proud of us — a group of humble artists and independent filmmakers who took such a huge risk and put their heart and soul into making this project a really good movie.
“From my talented DP Jon Schellenger, my amazing crew and all my talented actors — each one has given his/her best.
“This movie is the result of great team work and I personally feel it shows when you watch the film,” she said.
Working in West Virginia exceeded Moro’s expectations, she said.
“Never in a million years did I think we would have such big support from the graceful, kind people from West Virginia,” she said. “From the fire department to the Sheriff's Department to the Courthouse, everyone in town gave us a hand and made this movie possible.
“Also, the weather really did cooperate with us,” she noted. “God was giving us a hand because it snowed, it rained, the sun came out, we had overcast skies — all when it was supposed to!
“Making it very easy for us to shoot those days exactly the scenes that needed to be shot,” Moro said.
“Weather was a challenge and our biggest fear during our winter shoot — which I can happily now look back and say ‘We did it!’ and the results show in amazing footage,” she believes.
“I want to personally say thank you to the West Virginia film office, Laura McKinney and each one of the people involved in West Virginia, from Ritchie to Wyoming County, for helping us in making ‘Hollow Creek.’
“West Virginia will forever have a very special place in my heart,” Moro emphasized.