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Murrells Inlet: Filmmakers have low budget, but high hopes

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The producer and director of a low-budget movie titled “Civilized” are planning a casting call for extras next month when they visit Murrells Inlet to scout for film locations.

Producer Hannah Blackwell, a native of Murrells Inlet, and director Thijs Bazelmans have been working on “Civilized” for months following their first collaboration in the Roger Corman film “Art School of Horrors” due out next year. Experienced actress Diane Baker is executive producer.

Their film’s main character, Floyd, comes up with the idea to enter a Civil War re-enactment, Battle for the Inlet, in order to win the first place cash prize to save his family’s heritage and preserve his cushy lifestyle. Floyd organizes a rag tag crew of misfits as re-enactors, providing the kind of “quirky comedy” and visual gags popularized in “Shaun of the Dead” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” according to Blackwell. She said a group of Civil War re-enactors have agreed to be in the movie. “It’s a blessing to have their guidance for the re-enactment,” she said.

With a budget under $200,000, the producer will hire two or three professional actors and the remainder will be amateurs. “The casting will come from Murrells Inlet and the Grand Strand areas,” Blackwell said. “We are appealing for people to get involved. We’ve recruited young filmmakers who are basically volunteering their time.”

Bazelmans said people love playing soldier, and he’s looking forward to having amateur actors in the cast. “That’s usually how it goes when you are starting your career,” he said, “working with a partly inexperienced cast. That’s also part of the fun of it. We’re trying to involve as many people as we can to make some impressive looking armies on the battlefield.”

Blackwell has been seeking corporate sponsors and product placement fees from area businesses. “I really want to promote local businesses in my hometown and the state,” she said. “That’s something I’m very proud of. This will be a unique advertising opportunity.”

Blackwell said personnel in Los Angeles have convinced her to wait until peak hurricane season passes before scheduling filming, probably in mid-October or November. “I’d hate to be out there,” she said, “but a hurricane would help production value.”

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