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Locals make movie debut

January 10, 2014

Shyrl Hill and April Leathers, mother and daughter, are shown here on the set of “The Last Word,” a movie that is planned to be released in the Fall of 2014. The duo are in wardrobe, complete with hair and makeup, for the time period of the film. Pictured are (L to R) Shyrl Hill, Jamie Moreno, the film’s gaffer; and April Leathers. A Gaffer is the head of the electricians.

Two of Pushmataha County’s very own have made their movie debut as extras in the paranormal thriller “The Last Word.” The sure to be a hit movie began filming in Shreveport and Mansfield, LA, in November 2013 and is now in post production with hopes of being released by Fall 2014.

The headlining stars of the film include Mike Doyle (Green Lantern, Law and Order/ P.S. I Love You), Erin Cummings (Mad Men/Ice Man/ Dark House and Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints/Powder/Saw 3D: The Final Chapter/ Dexter).

THE LAST WORD follows the fate of the participants of a trial for a 17 year-old Texas teen that was wrongly convicted for the rape and murder of a nun in Texas in October of 1981. Before his execution, the man curses all those involved in his death. When the curse begins affecting a jurors’ son, the juror (Doyle) attempts to prove that the man (Flanery) was wrongly convicted.

“It was a really neat experience, nothing like you would expect. I sit up here in the mountains and while raising my children I would have never thought for one minute that I would be an extra in a movie, with a talent agent and everything. It’s amazing to see how it all works and goes together,” said Shyrl Hill. “It was all made possible by a really good friend of mine, Liz Landers, who works in the movie industry. She has worked on films like 8 Seconds, Premonition, Secretariat and Season of the Witch.”

“The Extra’s Casting were very impressed because they came prepared, had read all the directions and followed them,” Landers stated. “We are very grateful that they came down and worked with us and they looked absolutely great on camera, that’s why they got moved to the front during their scenes. We would love to work with them again.”

“We went down the night before to get the lay of the land since we had to be on set at 4:45 a.m. When we got on location, we stood in a line until about 7:30 with wardrobe, hair and makeup.” said Hill. “We spend 13 1/2 hours filming 2 scenes, in high heels! We were the only extras on set that hadn’t been in a movie before. All the rest had been in 17-18 movies before.”

When speaking with April about her experiences she expressed her concern for talking about the movie before it was released. “I figured we would wait until it actually came out to see if we even made the final cut before telling everyone about it. I never thought in a million years that we would be professional background actors, or that that was even a real thing but there are people who do nothing but that as a full time job,” said Leathers. “It was neat to see how things really work behind the cameras. We would spend 3 hours chanting and yelling in a scene and then the next 4-5 hours pretending to chant and yell while they were filming the stars in front of us. They explained that later they will go back in and dub our voices in so we don’t overshadow the stars.”

“The movie thing was fun for me but being able to have my mom with me was amazing. We have never got to go do something that was just us. We picked where and when to eat, where and when to stop to see something and only we can tell stories about our experiences because we were the only ones there,” said Leathers. “ I loved spending those three days with my mom, that was the best part.”

You may be wondering why a movie based in Texas was filmed in Louisiana. Well Louisiana’s unique tax incentive package was created in 2002 and with more than 150 applications received in 2011 alone, the surge is showing no signs of stopping. With a 30% tax credit on qualified direct production Louisiana expenditures, additional 5% tax credit for payroll expenditures to Louisiana residents, no annual cap, and tax credits that can be used to offset income tax liability in Louisiana (corporate or personal), sold back to the State for 85% face value, or brokered on the open market it is easy to see why.

Along with the experiences this mother-daughter team walked away with, they both stated that this is something they plan to continue doing. “Anything around here close we are going to do. And that isn’t just movies, it is T.V., commercials and so much more,” said Leathers.

According to Hill, there is another chance for the duo to make their mark on the silver screen sometime in January 2014 as extras in OKC in one or two films, one staring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the other Keanu Reeves.

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