MDIA's 419 Productions in currently in the process of filming multiple movies, one of which is titled 'The Rowe House.' The following is an article written by Jon Baker of the TimesReporter.
Katie Sweitzer, a sophomore at Ohio University in Athens, has dreamed of making movies since she was 4 years old, but she always thought she would have to leave Tuscarawas County to do it.
In February, she found out that wasn't the case.
She was part of a student film crew from Ohio University that spent three weekends shooting scenes for a movie called "The Rowe House" at the Brick House on Main bed and breakfast in Gnadenhutten.
"I feel it's so awesome to come home," said Sweitzer, a Dover native. "I thought I'd have to get out of Dover to make a movie."
Sweitzer, along with Michelle Zende, a junior from Cadiz, are taking a class called 419 Productions with more than 60 other students. They are divided into two crews, each working to produce a film from start to finish by the end of the school year. They also raised all of the money for the film's budget, about $5,500.
Zende served as the film's associate producer.
"This year our film, 'The Rowe House,' is about a young couple, Molly and Nathan, who purchase a home where a gruesome murder occurred 30 years ago to open a bed and breakfast haunted by both the past and present," she said. "Molly must decide whether the investment is worth the scare.
"Throughout the film, the couple doesn't know if the house is haunted. There is a huge twist at the end."
She described it as a suspenseful thriller.
One of Zende's jobs as associate producer was to find a house where the students could shoot their film.
"We figured a bed and breakfast would be best, because we could then rent out the house for the weekends," she said. "If we did a private home, it would be more difficult because we could be invading someone's home."
Using the internet, Zende searched for bed and breakfasts in Ohio. She then looked at more than 100 businesses and contacted the owners at about half of them. She went to look at some of the sites and took photos.
"Then I finally stumbled upon the bed and breakfast in Gnadenhutten," she said. She contacted the owners, Cathy and Jim Marker, and sent them a proposal. Cathy Marker read the script and enjoyed it. So Zende went there, took some pictures and sent the pictures to the crew. Then they negotiated a price to use the house.
The film was shot during the weekends of Feb 11-12, 18-19 and 24-25. Between 30 and 33 students were in Gnadenhutten at various times during those days, working from 10 to 14 hours per day.
The film featured Jake Reed, 13, of Gnadenhutten, who played a ghost; and Andrew Pelegreen III of Hopedale, who played an innkeeper.
Sweitzer was one of the film's art directors, as well as the assistant audio person.
"I was the only person on the crew who had two jobs," she said. "It was kind of cool to go between the two."
She worked with another OU student, Carley Matson, to create the special effects makeup for the actors.
"I did all the gory, bloody stuff, and it was really fun," Sweitzer said. "I've done it for myself for Halloween, so I was excited we were able to do it for this film."
Applying the makeup on the actors took about 45 minutes, she said.
Owner Cathy Marker had high praise for the students.
"I can't begin to tell you how much I respect these young adults — their courtesy, their professionalism, their enthusiasm, their work ethic and the joy they brought to the task," she wrote on the Brick House on Main's Facebook page. "They had a schedule, and they stuck to it. Whenever they shot an interior scene, they had to rearrange rooms (and our stuff), but afterward they put everything back where they found it. They respected our old house, they respected everything in the house, and — most important — they respected Jim and me, even when we gently kicked them out of a room each evening so we could enjoy a private dinner by ourselves."
The film crew still has a few more scenes to shoot in the Athens area before "The Rowe House" premieres in the Schoonover Center for Communications at Ohio University on April 23.
Sweitzer and Zende said there has been talk of screening the film in Gnadenhutten, but there are no definite plans yet.
Both hope to find jobs in the film industry.
Zende said she has always loved films. "It's magical in a sense to me. I love writing and storytelling. I want to be a screenwriter.
"I love the organization of a film, from casting to pre-production. That's what I want to focus on."
Sweitzer said she is a musician and singer and acts as well. "I would eventually love to direct or do what I can. I hope to end up in Los Angeles or New York."
She has one moment that she remembers especially well from the film shoot in Gnadenhutten.
"The thing that sticks out the most was being able to work with people my own age who are so mature and hardworking. On the last day, the director was talking to us, and we were all so tired and all so excited and happy. We were serious about the film. It's incredible."
For more information on 419 Productions, check out the Facebook pages for the films: The Rowe House and The Pelican Bar.