Independent film a 'unique' experience for young Carroll actors

While looking for young actors to fill out the cast for his upcoming film, independent filmmaker Doug Gardenhour visited the Westminster Library to post a casting call.

But instead of simply posting a flier and leaving, Gardenhour met Maureen Aversa, who he said has been instrumental in finding cast members.

"It's incredible how it's worked out," Gardenhour said, adding that the young cast for his film look the part of teenagers in the 1970s. "I just see it as divine intervention."

Aversa, whose son, Sean, plays the lead role of Ray Edmunds in the film, works at the library and suggested her son and his friends from the Carroll County Arts Council.

Sean, who said he had always wanted to be in a film, didn't believe his mother at first when she told him about the opportunity. "It sounded like a good experience," he said.

The movie centers on 14-year-old Ray Edmunds, of Westminster, who is crushed by the death of his favorite rock star, Jim Morrison. He is aided in coping with Morrison's death by Circus magazine editor Danny Newberg, who Edmunds meets in the Westminster City Park.

The film begins July 9, 1971, nearly a week after Morrison had died, and concludes October 29, the day Duane Allman, of The Allman Brother Band, dies.

Gardenhour, a Frederick resident, has been filming his self-written and self-produced film, "Disbelief," throughout Westminster since July 1.

The hour-long film won't be finished this summer because of the loss of some key actors, including the one playing Newberg. Gardenhour said Newberg quit the project because he was moving to Florida.

Gardenhour shifted his focus to a 10-minute film to enter in Ron Howard's "Project Imagination." He expects to submit the entry on Wednesday, July 24, and said funds would be divided between himself and the cast if it wins a prize.

Gardenhour said he plans to resume work on the full film inext year.

He described finding the right local cast members as "nothing short of a miracle."

And the cast members from the Carroll County Arts Council are grateful for the experience.

"I'm definitely enjoying it and I'm really glad I got the opportunity to do this," Kelsey Pintzow said. "It's preparing me for what I could see in the future."

Pintzow, 14, is one of three cast members who have experience at the arts center. The others are Aversa and Ian Green, both 13.

Aversa, who has performed in multiple plays through school and the arts center, said this opportunity has boosted his confidence.

Pintzow, who plays Ray's girlfriend in the film, said the biggest adjustment moving from theater to film is the lack of a live audience.

"There's not as much stage fright as there would be with theater because it's just the cast and the directors," she said. "It's less stressful."

Tabetha White, theater coordinator with the Carroll County Arts Council, said she has seen a difference in Sean's acting while working with him at a summer camp.

"I can already see how much he's grown from the experience in terms of confidence," she said.

White said she thinks the on-camera experience will help each actor.

"They definitely are getting a unique experience," she said.

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