RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Growing up in Portsmouth, Lance Thompson always wanted to make movies. After graduating from Portsmouth High School in 1974, he studied cinematography at The Ohio State University and made his dreams come true. Now he’s back in his old hometown, filming “Scorned” at locations all around Scioto County.
“It’s basically a thriller. It’s a mix of ‘Misery’ and ‘Fatal Attraction’. It’s written and will be directed by Mark Jones, who was the brains behind the ‘Leprechaun’ series of horror pictures,” Thompson explained. “Since the Shawnee Lodge was built, I’ve been there probably 100 times, or more. It’s just a perfect spot to produce this movie.”
The script original called for a beach house in Malibu, but Thompson felt the movie could work just as well in the hills of Appalachia Ohio. As an added incentive, the Ohio Department of Development offered his production studio the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit in the amount of $727,108 to film in the Buckeye State.
The movie itself, however, is not set in Portsmouth, Thompson said.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging, because it is. But it’s been worthwhile,” Thompson said.
The film stars actor Billy Zane (“Titanic,” “The Phantom”), and actresses AnnaLynne McCord (“90210,” “Nip/Tuck”) and Viva Bianca (“Spartacus: Vengenance”). Thompson said he also expected to hire 107 Ohio residents for the cast and crew.
“It was a very pleasant surprise to find such a unique and historic city so well preserved and camera ready,” Zane said. “While ‘Scorned’ is mostly filming at a private residence in the hill, and the lush views of the river and town make for a gorgeous backdrop, I would very much like to return with a history piece to shoot here that will celebrate and greatly benefit from the iconic American architectural offerings of the 20th century. The civic pride is inspiring as evidenced by the absolute lack of graffiti on your illustrious mural.”
Brad Bear, of Ironton, read about Thompson’s movie and contacted him. Bear was hired as a video editor.
“I grew up in Portsmouth and I went to OU Southern for my associates degree and then went to Athens and got a bachelors in television and film. I went to Atlanta and produced for Turner Broadcasting for a couple of years and then I left about seven years ago to teach and work at OU Southern,” Bear said.
He said he never imagined he could be working on a film this large in Portsmouth.
“Very few pictures ever come through. We had ‘We Are Marshall’ a few years ago in Huntington, but that’s the closest its ever come. Then there have been super low budget, or no budget, independent films where people have been around. But something of this scale, certainly I didn’t think it was going to happen in Portsmouth,” Bear said.
Thompson also found some help from Charles Ison, who lived in Portsmouth for many years before leaving town to begin a career in film and television. Now living in North Carolina, he heard about “Scorned” filming in Scioto County and wanted to help.
“If you go down the streets, it’s hard for people to imagine (filming a movie in Portsmouth) because when I grew up here it was Mayberry USA. You could get on a bus and go downtown with your mothers, then by the time you got to high school it was ‘American Graffiti.’ It was perfect,” Ison said. “I enjoyed the fact that he’s doing something great for the community, trying to bring a little bit of shine to the polish it used to have.”
The movie is filming at locations all around Scioto County. Most of the film will be shot at a private residence overlooking the city, but shots are also being filmed at Shawnee State Forest and in parts of downtown Portsmouth.
“People have been very cooperative, and it’s been very easy dealing with all the people of Portsmouth,” Thompson said. “The challenge has been that movies are not shot here typically. If they are shot in Ohio, they are shot in Cleveland or Cincinnati. So the equipment is not here. It has to be brought in from Cleveland or Cincinnati, and the crew has to be brought in from outside of Portsmouth.”
He said the production is great for the economy of Scioto County, and is expected to pump $2 million into the state of Ohio.
“We’ve got housing for the whole crew here, and they’re all eating and they have to be entertained, and we’re using local rent-a-car companies,” Thompson said.
In addition to “Scorned,” Thompson’s team also did a movie for the SyFy Channel in 2005, called “Attack of the Sabertooth,” and two animated movies — “Elf Bowling: The Movie” and “The Littlest Angel. Based on the best-selling children’s book “The Littlest Angel” was a direct-to-DVD 3-D animated feature, starring Ron Perlman — best known on film as Hellboy, and on TVs “Beauty and the Beast” (1987) and most recently “Sons of Anarchy” on FX.
Their latest production, “Scorned,” will be filming in Scioto County through this weekend before it leaves town for post production and editing. After final production has completed, the film will be distributed direct-to-DVD through Anchor Bay, and will also be aired on Starz and Encore TV networks. It might also be played at big-screen movie theaters, he said. Final distribution avenues have not yet been decided.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.