CUYAHOGA FALLS – The movie may not be on the big screen but those who like to stream movies with local talent and locations, will want to view "The Star and the Storm."
Last week, Conrad Faraj of Conrad Studios filmed a pivotal scene at Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home & Crematory, 1930 Front Street.
Faraj has about 20 people he works with on a film. For "The Star and the Storm," they spent four days in New York City and Brooklyn, which is the location of the fictional film. They also spent time in Cleveland and were in Cuyahoga Falls Aug. 12 for a funeral scene.
Steve Shoemaker, who owns the funeral home, said he received a call about using his facility for a film. Shoemaker also provided an empty casket for the scene and set up chairs for the mourners. The room for the scene may look familiar to those who have been to the funeral home, which was built in 1919.
It is not the first time Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home has participated in a film.
"I did have two hearses and a limousine in a film about the Soap Box Derby with Corbin Bernsen," Shoemaker said.
Bernsen was director, writer, producer and co-star of "25 Hill" which was released in 2011.
Filming was contained to the one viewing room with a camera on the people in the audience, including the two stars, while the voice of a priest, portrayed by Jazz Securo of Columbus, could be heard talking about life and forgiveness. Several takes of the audience, close-ups of each star, and a reverse shot from the back were filmed under Faraj's direction.
Born in Honduras, Faraj moved to Ohio and then to Los Angeles in 2013. He has completed more than 100 projects that include shorts, features, documentaries and music videos and this is his eighth feature film.
"The Star and the Storm" is Faraj's first drama-romance. He wrote the screenplay and wanted to show a different perspective and level of maturity.
"It's about the dynamics of two people falling in love and the ups and downs of a brief romance," he said. "I've seen friends on set in relationships. I've drawn inspiration from real life."
Faraj, who has done sci-fi films such as "Fighting the Sky" and fantasy "The Colours of Desire" in 2017, said he doesn't have to deal with special effects when filming a romance. The film will be his third official release with limited distribution, video on-demand and DVD.
Cameron McKendry plays Oscar and Angela Cole is Emmylou Rye, two actors who fall in love while working on set and the film mirrors real life.
"The funeral is for a co-star of the fake film," Faraj said. "It's a moment of brokenness and sadness and the realization of life. Do the lovers choose to stay together or break apart?"
McKendry is from Cleveland but lives in Los Angeles. He worked at Playhouse Square and portrayed the bully "Moose" the in the 2017 film, "My Friend Dahmer." He was Alex in the "I'm Not Ashamed" story of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shooting. He was also in a recurring role in the final season of "The Fosters."
"I love telling stories that spark emotion and inspire people," McKendry said. "You're always working job to job, and you need to get involved as much as you can to keep the creative juices flowing."
Cole is from Cleveland and lives in Los Angeles. Her first film was "Fighting the Sky" in Cleveland and she did a pilot, "Rollercoaster."
"Always keep going and don't get discouraged," Cole said. "There are so many roles. You get so many no's before a yes."
Assistant Director Jake Cole of Hudson and owner of R-C Productions Media helped on the project. He found extras, set up composition of the camera shots and helped with lighting and sound. He spent seven years directing in mostly local films and subcontracting work in the United States for non-profits and businesses films.
Ashley Kolojeck of LaGrange is the second assistant director and graduated from Bowling Green University in May with a bachelor's degree in film production management. Kolojeck does whatever needs to be done including moving furniture and adding paper to a collar to turn an actor into a priest.
"I help out with logistics and call sheets so people know who needs to be on set and what they're filming," Kolojeck said. "I've been an extra in a lot of scenes. We always need extras."
Ashley Watts of Houston, Texas and economics major at Case Western University is the gaffer for the film. She is in charge of lighting and making sure key lights are on the face of the actors to make them stand out.
Jake Keta of North Olmstead does the sound mixing and boom operating for the film and has worked with Faraj since 2013. He likes to use a schoeps microphone for outdoors and a Sinken CS3N for indoors. The mixer controls the volume and keeps it from being distorted, he said.
Other staff included Set Manager Matthew Ward of Lexington, Ky. who has been with Faraj since 2010 and Producer Darren Bush of Arizona but has ties to Elyria.
Those interested in being in films can go to Ohio Film Offices or Facebook/filminohio to learn about projects in the state and what film groups are sending out casting posts. Another location is the Greater Cleveland Film Commission for information about films in Ohio.
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org