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Rotary Chili Supper set for movie

By J. M. Jones

  Over 100 people of all ages filled Community Center on a brisk Nov. 18 evening for a bowl or more of hot chili, to bid for auctioned bric-a-brac and mingle with family and friends. And all that time those folks were extras being filmed for a movie.

  Prophet Productions of Henderson and the Overton Rotary Club arranged for the chili supper and auction and allowed a genuine backdrop for the Christian-based movie company to film a scene of Sojourners, whose script by Sharon Davis calls for a shot during a small town Texas chili supper.

  While the Rotary set up the center and the chili crock pots were warmed for pre-serving judging, the crew and cast of Sojourners were preparing for shooting. Cameras, lights, microphones, scripts and props were established at one table under direction of Clark Davis, Sharon’s husband. On the far side of the center, make-up artists Ginger Cerio and Jerry Moore unpacked cosmetics, brushes, combs and mirrors on another table. Behind the storeroom doors, where extra tables and chairs are kept, the extra space was a costume and changing room for the performers.

  Other participants in front of and behind the camera included Jimmy Fitzgerald (director of photography), Brenda Pool (camera), Tomhe Helm (clapboard); and actors Chris Cerio, Josiah Cerio, Randy Chandler, Alyssa Chipman, Ariel Chipman, Cody Davis, Mikki Davis, Mack Hickman, Kathe Hunter, Brenda Pool, Charlotte Pool, Susan Sheffield and Re’neir Taylor. All come from East Texas.

  Taylor, who plays “Jock” in the film, is from Longview.

  “I met [Clark] Davis through my parents, auditioned and got this role. I also help with the lighting, props, special effects…pretty well all over the place,” he smiled.

  Taylor has a certificate in digital photography from Collin College in Frisco, Texas. He plans to study at film school in Sam Houston State University and some day manage his own Christian production company.

  He was the first individual after the judging to try some of the chili. During filming, Taylor’s character was served an extremely hot bowl by a smiling attendant, played by Sheffield.

  As for the judging, the Best Chili Awards went to Mary Hart, first place (she was first last March); Bob Young, second place and Ray Smith, third.

  The auction followed the chili serving and over $600 was raised to support Rotary scholarships to local high school students. Young and Phyllis Starnes were the auctioneer and presenter, respectively.        

  “The Rotary Club has a great turnout tonight and everyone is having a good time. The people here watched us work on the movie and we, in effect, put many of them in the movie,” praised Clark Davis.

  Before filming the diners, Davis asked them if any one had objections to being filmed or photographed, for privacy or other reasons. No one said different.

  The diners were asked to act natural and enjoy the evening, but were asked to avoid any eye contact with the camera. Folks returned to their chili bowls and pleasant conversation while the camera slowly panned by and recorded the events.

  “This is my first movie I’ve gotten on the other side of the camera,” Clark Davis pointed out. After spending most of his stage career in front of live audiences, he got into movie making after reading Sharon Davis’ screenplay and soon Prophet Productions was shooting.

  They set up in the Community Center at 3 p.m. and filming began at 4:30 p.m., ninety minutes before the public was allowed in. Rotary Club members were the only other people in the center. Clark Davis called for “quiet!” and “action!” After that, only actors moved and spoke in the center. Rotary members stopped what they were doing until Davis said “cut!” The film just shot was played back and reviewed. If Davis was not satisfied, he filmed the take again.

  “Making a movie is not nearly as exotic and easy as people think. It’s a tedious process,” Clark Davis explained.

  For his wife, Sharon Davis, writing the screenplay for Sojourners was a first-time experience. Inspiration came to her from the highest source.

  “The Lord put in my head to write a Christian movie. I was reading the Bible and found the word sojourners in some of the Scriptures. Various things also inspired me and especially 1 John 4:4,” she pointed out.

  Sojourners tells the story of a potential hired killer whose life and motive are changed through circumstance.

  Sharon Davis was witnessing from the background as her husband directed the shooting. The tedium of moviemaking relaxed after the diners appeared.

  Overall, “Everything’s been fine,” said Sharon Davis.

  Rotary’s Tom Starnes called everything “A fun evening for the community and the Overton Rotary Club. Some of the people got to be in the movies, and the chili supper scene is a turning point in the movie. I’m grateful Clark Davis chose us for this scene. There’s never been anything such as this in Overton.”

  Starnes reminded that the chili supper and auction is usually in March.

  “This helps our scholarships even more.”

  He also thanked all businesses “Who sponsored this supper, gave financial donations or items to be auctioned.”

  And the film crew really impressed Starnes.

  “They’ve been thanking us ever since they got here,” he grinned.       

  “We’re blessed to be here,” summed Clark Davis.

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