OKC rapidly becoming a film set

Published: Thursday, November 5, 2020 By: Janice Francis-Smith Source: The Journal Record

The hum of generators providing power to houses along the quiet streets of the Mesta Park historic preservation district became commonplace in the days following the ice storm. But at a charming old green house on 19th Street, the generator was joined by a trailer, a few orange cones at the curb, and then a few folding tables in the driveway. During the day and into the night, a crew of about 50 people moved quietly and efficiently about the property and another house directly across the street.

The two houses had become the set of a movie – yet another major film production happening in Oklahoma City as the state’s film industry continues to blossom at least in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Killer Infatuation is an independently produced thriller feature film from Stephanie Rennie, Amanda J. Strachan, and Markus Bishop-Hill – a group that has produced dozens of films premiered on Lifetime Network, Hallmark Channel and in theaters.

The production is being handled locally by Oklahoma-based Thunderbird Films, founded in 2019 by Randy Wayne and Talia Bella. The two industry veterans had spent years in the film industry in Los Angeles before deciding they could do what they do even better in Oklahoma.

“I’m from Moore,” said Wayne, who spent 17 years in Los Angeles, appearing in 100 movies as an actor and gaining experience as a producer on some independent films. “I left LA four years ago, so tired of the rat race there. I knew there is a market in Oklahoma for serious film production.”

Film companies from California and Canada that he’s worked with are often surprised to discover how efficiently they can make a production in Oklahoma and how extensive Oklahoma’s film industry infrastructure has become, Wayne said.

Some aspects of the industry in Oklahoma are still being built up. For instance, in California a database exists where a filmmaker looking for a certain type of house can connect with someone who owns such a house that would offer it to be used for a film. Without such a database in Oklahoma, Wayne just went to a neighborhood where he knew he could find old houses and started knocking on doors.

“I knocked on a lot of doors,” Wayne said.

Then the ice storm hit. The production crew usually uses a generator to power film equipment anyway, but it has been a bit of a hiccup not having residential power to run incidental appliances like hair dryers. Still, the production has continued successfully, he said. Talent in the film includes Ryan Francis, the actor who played a young Peter Pan in the 1991 film Hook – who is scheduled to start on another production in Tulsa in the near future.

Next, the production will film scenes at Classen Coffee in Oklahoma City, at El Reno Public

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