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Famous actors seen throughout community while filming ‘Not to Forget’

By Bobbie Curd
bobbie.curd@centralkynews.com

Over the last few weeks, some residents of Lincoln and Boyle counties have run into the likes of Hollywood notables Louis Gosset Jr., Cloris Leachman, Tatum O’Neal and Karen Grassle, the mom from “Little House on the Prairie.”

All these stars were in the area to film “Not to Forget,” a story about a Kentucky grandmother with Alzheimer’s and her juvenile delinquent grandson.

Robby Henson, whose regular gig is the artistic director at Pioneer Playhouse, just completed a three-week stint as production designer for the independent film, mostly made in Kentucky, directed by Valerio Zanoli.

He said it’s been a whirlwind. “It was a hard slog,” Henson said, but truly worth it. Zanoli was connected with Henson, who’s made films of his own, when the director was traveling the state searching for towns to film in.

“He was coming through Kentucky mainly because he got approval for a Kentucky tax incentive to make a film here,” Henson said. Someone told him to go to Pioneer Playhouse, and ask for Robby.

“I showed them different locations … They were only bringing two-thirds of their crew with them, so they needed the rest from here and I was able to help with that.”

Kentucky is a big part of the story of “Not to Forget,” Henson said. The two locations that made up the farm shots were Arcadia Farms in Lincoln County, and The Farm Bed and Breakfast Inn in Danville.

Henson said the story is a heartwarming one, about a grandson who at first aims to take advantage of his grandmother, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. “But his heart is changed during the course of the story …” He said the film was funded in part by an Alzheimer’s foundation and part of the profits will be earmarked for charity.

One of the greatest things about the experience, other than getting to showcase his hometown, Henson said, was the dozens of local extras involved. “And probably about seven local crew people who worked on it. Probably about seven different Kentucky actors, too, who got jobs …”

Michael Ross and Jessa DeLuca were two of those locals involved. “It’s been really, really fun,” Ross said, of Danville, while in the hallway of Shelby Manor at Arcadia Farms.

He and Deluca, a Centre College graduate, were drafted into the crew while working at the Playhouse.

Ross started off as a production assistant, but they found out about his musical background and put him on sound. “It’s a learning experience, for sure. Seeing how everything in film works, all the different takes, how one little thing will throw the whole scene off … “ he said. “My very first day … we shot a moving-car scene in Perryville. I was on the back of the box truck as we were pulling the car — it was awesome. I was like, ‘So this is how they do it.’”

There were probably almost 30 people on the set involved in the movie. Most were from Atlanta, New Orleans or Los Angeles, Ross said.

DeLuca, who studied dramatic arts, was working props. “Everyone was really nice. We met the directors and producers at the Playhouse, so we already had some familiar faces. Plus Robby, and Daniel (Hall Kuhn, a Playhouse actor who did art direction for the film) were there. It wasn’t too scary, but it was a little intimidating at first.”

Henson was also thrilled that Kevin Hardesty was cast in a big role. “He’s an unknown Kentucky actor that was fabulous; he beat out C. Thomas Howell for the role of playing the father.”

Olympia Dukakis is also in the film, but her shots will be done in New York.

Other key locations used were First Southern Bank, the Boyle County Courthouse, Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, the old Chenault Bridge and the Danville City Parking Garage.

On a hot Friday night, a crew is set up with lights, monitors and sound equipment on the floor of the parking garage behind Central Kentucky Surgery Center. One of the walls has been completely redesigned to mimic a graffiti filled garage in New York by the film’s art team. .

The scene shows Grassle and two other actors racing up to the door in the Cadillac, with the young ones jumping out of the convertible, then helping Grassle out. “Cut!” Zanoli yells, over and over again. And over and over again, Henson jumps into the car and backs it down the drive, quickly, then parks it for the actors, jumps out and hurdles over the parking garage wall to get back up on set.

Henson says he’s made films before; he knows time means money. “… I jump into whatever’s needed to be done to facilitate it moving faster.”

They also filmed at Corky Deaton’s cabin, out off Paper Mill Road in Garrard County. Deaton, of Danville, was surprised to be used in the movie after allowing them to film in his cabin, and in the field and creek behind it. He was first asked to be a juror, but said the director pointed him out and wanted him in a bar scene, instead, playing a “New York tough guy.”

“He wanted me in the bar scene instead, guess they thought I made a better drunk. I had my hair slicked back, a pinkie ring on and a suit …” Deaton said.

Henson said most everything went as well as it can go, on multiple sets. However, “I think the director didn’t totally understand that animals would not do what he directed them to do …” Henson said, laughing. The director had a goat brought to Charleston, which is a senior living center, and expected it to walk up to the actors. “We had to swap that out for a bunny rabbit … Another situation involved a flock of geese, that didn’t work out …”

But Henson says Zanoli was very happy and positive about the local experience of shooting here, and how helpful everyone was. “He’s planning on doing another one here at the Old Northpoint Hospital, as a horror film.” That may commence filming sometime over the next year, he said.

“Not to Forget” will take about nine to 10 months to finish the film and release, Henson said.

The film also stars Tate Dewey, Taylor Hook and Jared Egusa. The full cast and crew can be found on imdb.com.