The stars at night are known for being bright in Texas, but stars of a different nature arrived or were born in Aledo in the past several months.
Over the last year, Director Bill McAdams, cofounder of the independent Aledo Film Group, created the film Gallows Road, which will be on the big screen later this year.
McAdams wrote the first draft of the film in 1997 while working on the movie Good Will Hunting as Matt Damon’s photo double.
“It was written for Anytown, USA, but I incorporated Aledo,” McAdams said.
Kevin Sorbo, known for playing Hercules on films and a television series in the 1990s, and Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters and Congo, play lead roles in the movie.
Hudson first heard of the movie a couple years ago when McAdams approached him and later gave him the script. When he heard that they had the needed funding and were ready to move forward, he agreed to join in.
“Through the film, some unfortunate things are perpetrated upon my character whose faith is tested,” said Hudson, who plays antique store owner Bob Collins, who tragically loses his family.
After the character’s loss, he then faces the decision of whether to forgive or take revenge.
Sorbo plays a ranch hand who encourages Hudson’s character through his grief, giving him a second chance and pointing him in the right direction.
“It’s a great script,” Sorbo said. “It’s faith-based and family-friendly.”
Sorbo said many of his recent and current roles have been in movies for the whole family such as the 2011 release Soul Surfer, Secret Handshake, Coffee House, What If… and God’s Not Dead, being filmed in areas such as Amarillo, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala.
Having grown up as the fourth of five children in a small town in Minnesota, Sorbo said he enjoyed getting to film in Aledo. Hudson on the other hand, said he is more accustomed to larger cities.
“I like Aledo,” said Hudson, who said the weather was a nice change after spending time in Vancouver and Chicago in the last month. “I’m always fascinated by these small towns.”
The film group had their final shoot on Friday, when Aledo residents got to participate as extras alongside actors such as Hudson and Sorbo – some of whom were recruited to stand in when they had first come only as observers.
“There are so many people who have contributed and helped out in so many ways,” said actor Brent Anderson, who plays the sheriff in the movie and was also assistant director the final day of filming.
Not only did residents get to take part in the filming, but others donated items and even their property to the movie as it was filmed at local ranches, businesses and homes. The fire department also got involved.
McAdams said the whole town has been helpful and when they came back Friday to film the opening and closing scenes of the movie, he decided to use the town’s image and sense of community a little more.
“I’m getting back to making the town a character,” McAdams said, explaining that he made adjustments to the opening scene to do so.
Friday morning, Anderson kicked off the filming on Front Street with an encouraging, “Let’s make a movie!” while the Aledo residents cheered. Not long after that, they filmed the opening scene. And then filmed it again.
Though only filming the opening and ending scenes and filling in a few small gaps in the film, the process took all of Friday and part of Saturday.
“In film-making it’s hurry up and wait,” said Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall, who plays a key role in the opening scene. “The back scenes of film making are really interesting.”
But despite the time spent waiting or re-shooting numerous times, the work was finally completed.
“I thought the shoot went very well, it’s a good crew and everybody’s working really hard to tell [McAdams] story,” Hudson said of the entire filming process over recent months. “It’s great to be a part of it.”
With the filming part of the movie complete, it is scheduled to be released this summer.
“It’s a really powerful story that Billy [McAdams] crafted together,” Anderson said. “We want to move people – good story telling is moving people, shining a light on human nature and how we treat each other. And I think the way it’s portrayed in the film is really powerful.”