Film crew steals show at Hedgesville bank

August 29, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. -- A SWAT team suited up Saturday afternoon in downtown Hedgesville, prepared to rush into a bank as a heist unfolded. What appeared to be several rifles were being passed around the group.

Except only two of the SWAT members actually work in law enforcement. The rest were actors, appearing in an independent film whose crew used an old bank at the corner of North Mary and East Main streets in Hedgesville as a movie set this weekend.

Two actual law enforcement officers, one from Morgan County, W.Va., and one from Winchester, Va., volunteered their time for the project.

"I've seen so many movies with fake stuff. I thought if they had technical advice, it would be done right," said Mike Boyce, who has been with Winchester's SWAT team for five years.


"So far, the film crew has been trying to get it right," Boyce said.

He plays a perimeter observer who gives a situation report about what's happening inside the bank during the robbery, Boyce said.

The movie filmed this weekend is the second installment of a four-part series, said writer, producer and director Carlos Roman.

The first film, "Signals," was awarded the Best Action Feature honor in July 2008 in Los Angeles at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival, Roman said. Now he's working on the second installment, "Signals 2."

Sharon Carpenter-Rose of Hedgesville works for Roman's company, Roman Pictures, based in Alexandria, Va., and is responsible for the filming in West Virginia.

She is an assistant producer for Roman Pictures, and when trying to find locations to film the bank heist scene, the company ran into resistance from actual banks, Carpenter-Rose said as she sat cross-legged in a director's chair as a makeup artist painted her face.

She lives in Hedgesville and often drove by the old bank, now owned by a local dentist, Carpenter-Rose said. The dentist agreed to allow filming on his property, she said.

Carpenter-Rose also plays an FBI special agent in the film, which was inspired by experiments performed by the CIA on soldiers during the Korean War, she said. It's a science-fiction story featuring a soldier who develops special powers, she said.

Carpenter-Rose expects the film to be released in the fall of 2010.

For other Roman Pictures films in the works, she is searching for other places in West Virginia to film.

"I'm bringing them out here," she said.

Through a friend, Carpenter-Rose was also able to recruit a Morgan County SWAT team member.

His sheriff, Vince Shambaugh, asked for volunteers, SWAT team member Scott Lemon said.

"It sounded like fun," Lemon said.

He has a speaking part, with a line at the end of the scene, Lemon said. A Morgan County Special Response Vehicle was also being used in the scene.

Gary McDaniel, a friend of Carpenter-Rose's, also has a part in the film. He arrived on set Saturday to discover he had been, "upgraded to a bad guy," he said.

He expected to appear as a bank patron, but now has a speaking part and drives the getaway car, McDaniel said. His wife, Tracey McDaniel, was wearing the black fatigues of a SWAT team member for her part.

While he is involved in theater through the Morgan Arts Council, he's never worked in a commercial film before, McDaniel said. Tracey McDaniel has neither acting nor SWAT experience, her husband said.

"But she's got the look for it," he said.

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