Hollywood film cast and crew descend on Lonoke

“To cut!”

With this word from the assistant director, the frozen film crew began to move again, with an urgent goal. Actors René Ashton and Alivea Disney quickly disappeared inside Pizza Pro on Front Street in downtown Lonoke.

Text and makeup controls.

“The Cult” is the working title of a Hollywood movie, with part shot in Lonoke. For the feature film, the town was renamed Weberly.

Rick Benattar, one of the two producers, said, “We wanted a small town vibe. Lonoke worked.

The basic plot: A woman is looking for her missing daughter, believing she has joined a cult there, but is told her daughter is dead, Benattar explained. “Think, Stepford Wives,” above the surface it’s all wonderful, but dig in and “something’s wrong. A little scary… There is a twist. But for now, it’s mom who has the word.

Benattar looks like he’s on camera, but instead he’s known in Hollywood for his behind-the-scenes work. Her movie credits include “Real Steel” (2011), “My Missing Daughter” (2017) and “Gemini Man”.

There are many more titles. In fact, the list goes on.

Kaila York is also a producer and Nigel Thomas is the director on this project. Thomas has stated that he plans to sell this film to Lifetime Movies. Like Benattar, his film credits are impressive, dating back to the mid-1990s.

His recent works include “The Wind That Shakes Barley”, the “Incoming” of 2018 and he has two films in pre- or post-production and a third, “Tous pour elle”, was recently completed.

Benattar said about 22 members of the production team have been recruited from Arkansas. He added: “We are satisfied with their work and their work ethic. “

As Thomas watched a primary monitor, the film crew repositioned the camera and a large silver screen was used to control the light, and at that point Lonoke Police Chief Matthew Edwards pulled over to ask “How are you?” “

Benattar replied, “Alright,” and for a few minutes the two were lost in the conversation.

Edwards, along with the mayor, county judge and other officials have been wonderful and welcoming, he said. In addition, the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce, Lonoke’s new upscale restaurant, The Grumpy Rabbit, whose food Benattar highly recommends, and McKimmey Associates Realtors were very helpful.

Mayor Trae Reed said, “The camera crew and the camera crew were very enjoyable chatting with them. We tried to give the locals the opportunity to participate in the film, but unfortunately corporate COVID protocols prevent them from throwing extras. “

The Lonoke County Museum, nearby on Front Street, allowed them to set up a seat, called a “base camp,” housing a cabinet and the digital imaging technician is housed there.

Tammy Glass of Little Rock was responsible for the location scouting for this production. She worked on the 2012 film “Mud” with Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, along with others like “A Soldier’s Story”, “Shelter”, “God’s Not Dead” 2 and 3, and “Greater”, with d ‘ other films.

His initial work for “The Cult” included about eight visits to Lonoke over about a month, as well as securing the use of all film spots.

Glass said everyone is “very helpful and everyone in town has helped and been very welcoming”.

They paid $ 200 for the use of the museum for a few days and pledged a donation in the future.

Sherryl Miller, director of the museum, said of the cast and the crew: “Everyone has been nice, very professional. The cast and crew toured the scene, even spending money (in the museum’s gift shop).

By the way, Benattar said of local businesses and city officials: “They are all amazing. They have been a great support and a great help. More than what we expected or experienced elsewhere


As the actors came out of Pizza Pro and the assistant director shouted: “Quiet on set! Rolling.”

The two actors, one chasing the other, walked a short stretch of sidewalk, before stopping.

“Cut”, and the actors returned to their marks.

They repeated the scene several times. The usually warm spring sun was tempered by a cool, brisk wind on Thursday morning. No one seemed to care, even Philip Barnard, owner of Pizza Pro, who focused on the cast.

A few minutes earlier, he had seen much of the contents of his restaurant emptied and carefully deposited on the floor in the nearby vacant lot.

No problem.

There was an orange VW van parked outside the restaurant to give the film a “hippie” feel, the producer explained earlier.

To accommodate the film crew, Barnard gave his 12 employees time off Thursday and Friday, and although he had urgent business, he remained on site and ready just in case.

“The crew might need something from me,” he said.

Plus, Barnard decided it would be fun to watch the action unfold.

Miller said it has been an exciting time in their small town of over 4,200 residents, and she quietly answers questions from residents. Usually it’s’ What’s going on? “

For the most part, city dwellers are only curious, slowing down as they pass the plateau or peering shyly through store windows.

But while he was there on Thursday, a guy interrupted Benattar to ask if he or anyone had any jumper cables. Pointing across the street, the guy said his girlfriend’s car wouldn’t start.

No, sorry.

The guy looked around the set briefly before moving on.

Benattar returned his attention to the stage.

Then Chief Edwards stopped to ask how it was going.

Benattar said, “Very good. “

For the most part, the cast and crew worked non-stop that morning.

Thomas said: “There are a number of places around Lonoke (town) that fit the bill” for this film script, and over the next few days their other filming will include Lonoke Town Hall. , Lonoke County Courthouse and Belvedere located on the grounds, a duck lodge and a private residence.

Benattar said they plan to complete their work in Lonoke by next Friday.

Special thanks to Tammy Glass.

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