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‘Let’s make our own movie’: Film school alumni, students seek Southern Utah actors and supporters

‘Let’s make our own movie’: Film school alumni, students seek Southern Utah actors and supporters

Tanner McCowan doesn’t want to go to Hollywood to make a movie. The recent Utah Tech film grad and his team are looking to cast, produce and film their new script right here in St. George.

When most students graduate from film school, McCowan said, they create promotional videos and commercials. McCowan said he decided to do something different. Before he graduated, McCowan finished a full-feature film script and gathered other soon-to-be graduates to create a movie set in St. George and cast from residents in the community.

Part murder mystery, part supernatural romantic comedy, “First Haunt” follows a young woman named Claire who enters purgatory after being murdered, according to its press release.

Claire quickly discovers the unexpected business world of haunting when she’s assigned to haunt Will, a struggling writer who just found the inspiration for his new murder mystery novel. Claire eventually falls in love with him, but Will thinks her attempts to contact him are supernatural clues to solving her murder.
“It has the ‘Beetlejuice’ vibes,” McCowan said. “I’ve always liked putting the supernatural in romantic comedies, that’s not based in reality.”

Originally, McCowan said, the story was an analogy for depression, where the ghost female protagonist wants the male to die to be with her, but when she sees he’s depressed, she tries to keep him from ending his own life. The film will be rated PG-13, McCowan said.

A film professor at Utah Tech worked with McCowan to extend the short film into a full-length feature.

Now with the script completed, McCowan and his producers are looking for community actors, additional producers and anyone in the community who’d like to help a Southern Utah indie film progress.

“I’m from Southern Utah,” McCowan said, “and from everywhere I’ve been, these are the nicest people I’ve ever met. I also know a lot of people here kind of resent Hollywood.

“So, let’s make our own movie where you can see yourself on-screen and hold the premiere at the local theater. Let’s show the world that we can do it.”

Donators to the film’s IndieGoGo campaign access a series of perks that increase in film involvement based on contribution. A $25 donation earns a name in the end credits. A $50 donation earns an invite on-set to be an extra in the film. At the highest donation options, a $1,000 donation earns an executive producer name credit in the beginning of the film, and a $5,000 donator will have his or her name replaced as a lead character’s name in the film.

McCowan said he hopes to have an ensemble cast of eight actors who are locally based, three lead actors, three supporting actors and two additional supporting characters.

So far, McCowan and his crew have casted only one actor of the eight, a local actress named Mercedes Murgia, and they are currently seeking more cast members.

McCowan’s short film “Melting Down” was featured in the Kanab Film Festival and Desertscape International Film Festival. His most recent short film “Chasing Shadows” is currently in its festival run.

For more information about the project, follow “First Haunt” on its Instagram and Facebook pages, or reach out to the producer Andrea Bustillo by email.

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