TERRE HAUTE —
Cast members ate cake and played indoor basketball during a cast party on Wednesday, as the first 10 days of filming the independent movie “Vanished” concluded.
Candy Beard, director, writer and executive producer of the film, said actor Richard Bryant, popularly known for his portrayal of Pvt. Jeremy Sherwood on Lifetime TV’s “Army Wives,” has completed his part. Bryant played the part of a father of a 9-year-old Terre Haute girl who, in the movie, is abducted.
Two scenes will be completed this weekend, the first involving a set of teenagers, who remember seeing a strange person hanging around the neighborhood but never told parents or others about it. Another scene involves young girls distributing fliers asking for help in finding the abducted 9-year old, Beard said.
Filming will continue on weekends from mid-September through the end of February or early March. A rough cut of the film is expected by early April. Beard’s son, Daniel Beard, is film editor.
Beard said she is reaching out to film distributors for the film.
“The saying is independent films never get distributed; that’s not true. They do get distributed. It is just getting the right person at the right time to notice you,” Beard said.
“We are hoping that by the time this film is ready we will have already seen a little success with our first two films,” Beard said. Those films are “In A Cage,” a domestic abuse movie filmed in September 2011 and completed in June, and “This Promise I Made,” filmed last year, which is expected to have a rough cut by October. That film features Ken Kercheval, a Clinton native, who was an actor on the original “Dallas” TV show and on a revival of that show.
Beard hopes to get one or both of those films into the Sundance Film Festival next year in Park City, Utah.
“Vanished” is Beard’s first film as director. It’s also the favorite of the three films.
“I really want to get this message out. Too many kids are being abducted, and just the fact we had a great cast and great crew. I know what I want when I write it. This has been like watching a dream come true,” Beard said.
Caitlin Smith, 28, Columbus, portrays Carla Bennett, the mother of the abducted child. A natural brunette, Smith dyed her hair blonde to fit into the role of a mother of three blonde-haired girls.
Smith auditioned for the role at the urging of her friend, Connie Kiviniemi-Baylor, who portrays the grandmother in the film.
“The role has been really interesting for me,” Smith said. “I am not a mom and not a wife, but I have a mom who is a wife. I feel like I have been channeling her a lot.
“Carla Bennett is very strong. I come from a long line of strong women and so I identify with them and aspire to be one, so it has been really neat to kinda step into [Carla Bennett’s] shoes,” Smith said.
She said working with actor Richard Bryant “has been amazing. He is a famous actor, but doesn’t act like it. He doesn’t come across as anybody else but a normal guy,” she said. “He really helps put me at ease. We met five minutes, ‘Hi, how are you,’ and now we’re married” for the film roles, she said.
“We have hit it off really well and have worked well together,” Smith said.
“There is a lot of meat to this script. It has a lot of emotion attached and it will hopefully evoke a lot of emotions from the audience.” Smith said, who studied theater at Milligan College near Johnson City, Tenn.
Smith will return to her job as front office manager at a dermatology office in Columbus during the film’s break.
Bryant said he was drawn to the script by its emotional content.
“As an actor, we take pride in telling stories, and the stories that we tell we educate our audience. When I read the script, I felt like I had to be a part of it,” he said.
Bryant said his favorite scene in the movie is one that expresses emotion of loss and helplessness. “I look like a crying baby, but at the end of the day, it is the type of emotions that would go through a father’s head if his daughter was taken,” Bryant said.
“It was a very dark place that I had to go to, but the commitment to telling the story, it allowed me to get to that place … that can hopefully show our audience how tragic and how devastating this can be. It seems like every single time you turn on the television, there is somebody getting kidnapped. We are trying to bring awareness to it.”
Bryant will now return to College of Charleston in South Carolina to study theater.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.