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The Hollow Oak

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Chris Maney has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.  To whom?   The supporters, cast, and crew of The Hollow Oak a feature film set to be released this coming summer and they are behind him 100%. 

It started as an idea he had in high school and has developed into the production that now has been underway for over a year.   Along the way he met up with Samantha Katelyn and they have built a great filmmaking team that has their focus on the prize.  To finish this thriller for release by the summer of next year.

"I held an audition in Jacksonville back in 2010. I wanted to make a movie for fun. Nothing fancy...

But I had met Samantha. She convinced me I could do so much more with The Hollow Oak. And we have been at it ever since." - Chris Maney

This production has come a long way since the first audition in 2010. Some roles have been re-cast and a lot of effort has been put forth in scouting locations, blocking scenes, setting up and tearing down equipment, not to mention the editing and sound design.

That effort is paying off in some great footage and a polished production.  Check out some of the behind the scenes looks  and the bonfire scene below for some previews of The Hollow Oak.

If you would like to help with the production there is a fundraising campaign at for The Hollow Oak to help finish the film by the summer of 2013 that includes many perks, depending on what level of support you give, such as:  DVD of the movie, signed poster, soundtrack, credits on IMDb and in the movie, props from the movie, script signed by the cast, Darla's charm, her book of spells, and her costume.

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Chris with some of the crew.

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Eric Creel - Production/Location Manager

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Michael Acosta  -  Director of Photography

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Ryan Fitting - Camera Operator

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Natalie Harms - Wardrobe Supervisor/Costume Designer

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Sara Mecca Whitlock - Set Photographer

Chris, will you tell us about The Hollow Oak?  What's it about?

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Chris Maney:  The Hollow Oak is about a troubled teenager, Kayla Coleman who is battling with fitting in. Her parents are getting separated, her great-grandmother passed away and she is also dealing with a boyfriend, Eric, who hides their relationship from the world.

Mallory, Kayla's friend, convinces her to sneak out to 'The party of the year." Kayla does this and finds that it was all a set up. Eric, and Mallory had been seeing each other secretly and Mallory decided to show Kayla this.

Upset, Kayla leaves the party and is caught sneaking back into her house... to find not only her mother there, but her dad as well. They tell her that she and her mother will be going away to a family camp, "Camp Hollow Oak." Where her mother went as a child.

Kayla does not find this amusing... When Kayla gets to Camp Hollow Oak, she finds it's not so bad after-all. She meets Spencer, the odd ball, gothic-type chick who introduces her to an old tale of a girl "Darla" who was murdered by the evil doings of Katelyn White..."Katelyn was a witch and was jealous of Darla." 

Later casting a spell on her to die a painful death. However, some things go wrong and the curse is lingering in the air at Camp Hollow Oak. She meets friends Erin, Mason and Devon who are carefree and do not believe in the "fairy tale" of Darla and Katelyn White. Kayla is put in the middle of choosing between Spencer and the gang, but she falls in love with Mason leaving her no choice but to push Spencer away.

Later still, the evil doings begin. A girl goes missing and her body is later found. Could this be the evil doings of Darlas tortured soul? The adventure begins as the gang searches for clues of why Darla haunts the camp ground and how she died.

Samantha Katyelyn:  This story is truly incredible for such a young writer. This script embodies so many emotions that people deal with day to day.

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Where did the idea for the screenplay come from?

Chris Maney:  Well, what influenced me was the Salem witch trials and how fear could control our minds into believing things.  I can admit at times I jump onto my bed just because I think something might grab me and pull me under. lol (Corny I know) Even though I know it's not really under there, the fear controls my mind into thinking. So The Hollow Oak is based off of fear, and how it does just that. IS the story of Darla Real? Or is it a myth?

I began writing the story back in my junior year of high school. When a group of friends and I had improvised a whole short movie at Camp Clear Water one summer. My parents own a lake house and I had made some friends. I had a camera, and that's what we decided to do for fun.

Later I had dug into the story and wanted to make sense of it. It had a good story line, but there were things missing and I just wanted to make it better. So I wrote the screenplay.

Not thinking it would actually go anywhere, just for fun, I held an audition in Jacksonville back in 2010. I wanted to make a movie for fun. Nothing fancy... But I had met Samantha. She convinced me I could do so much more with The Hollow Oak. And we have been at it ever since.

We have cast the lead role five times. Because we want this to be the best it could be. Kayla had to be dead on. We have been through trial and error, learned from our mistakes and we're willing to keep going. We've been at it for two years, and I'm willing to go on four more years until it is the best it can be!

We are such a small budget production. We all pitch in and we're all basically the producers. There are times that we can't afford to feed our cast, crew or extras but someone will always raise their hand and pitch in. We're just that close.

If anything, I know I have made great friends from this project. If it doesn't go anywhere, it doesn't but I will never regret the choices I have made because I have benefited in so many ways I can not even explain. I am blessed and I will do it again and again!

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This truly sounds like a labor of love between the cast and crew.

So this was in your mind since high school. I know you've worked on other productions. Can you tell us about your filmmaking and musical background?

Chris Maney:  The Hollow Oak is my first feature. I've done things here and there as a kid with a camera. I would have friends come over just so we could make a movie off of a home video camera. It's what I did for fun. I never played sports or rode bikes with friends. I was the odd ball who enjoyed entertaining people instead. And that was the way of entertaining myself.

You sound like quite an entrepreneur.  The enthusiasm your cast and crew has shown for you and the film is surely the inertia that keeps a production like this going.

Chris Maney:  I guess all of the promotional material and short clips I throw out there has given people enough proof to know that I'm a hard worker and I love what I do, and can hand a great product over.

Rachel Marie Barron.jpgRachel Marie Barron:  It is amazing. Everyone is so fun and team oriented. Its a lot of work but i love seeing the film come together and i am honored to be apart of this!

The film is set in present day but flashes back to the mid thirties,

It revolves around Kayla (Meredith) and flashes back to her grandmother as a girl and how that affects the future.  I don't want to give away to much.

Merideth, will you tell us a little about your background and what you character is like in the movie?

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Merideth Harrison:  I've been acting in film since I was nine years old, and love every single minute of it. I honestly couldn't imagine my life without it at this point. I've been involved in several other things such as dance which I participated in for thirteen years and had a passion for as well. All in all, I can say that this has been a set like no other, and I enjoy it a lot! Kayla Coleman is basically a typical teenage girl. She goes through a lot of problems that relate to a lot of teenagers, especially in this day and age. She is modest and a little insecure, but comes out of her shell after her mother takes her to Camp Hollow Oak, and she finds love, and a great group of friends who help her cope.

Have you been in North Carolina most of the time during your acting career?

Merideth Harrison:  Yes. I've lived in Wilmington North Carolina my whole life, and for my entire acting career.

I see you were in One Tree Hill. I guess that was convenient being in Wilmington. Have you done theatre?

Merideth Harrison: When I was in the fifth grade I starred in the play Snow White, and in the sixth and seventh I participated in the plays The Giver and Annie. I was never much into theatre though, film always interested me more.

Has your work always been in front of the camera or are you interested in other things that go into a production as well?

Merideth Harrison:  I'm pretty much only interested in acting at this point. I love being on set in general, so maybe one day another job in production will call to me, but right now it's just acting.

Any interesting stories from the set of The Hollow Oak?

Merideth Harrison:  Honestly, there's a lot of memories and little stories that always crack me up on set. Way too many to tell. We're pretty much one big family, and I know for a fact that I've met a couple of my best friends working on this set. I've had everything from people throwing mud at me to try to make me look dirty for a scene, to sitting around and playing intense games of Jenga. And I wouldn't have it any other way, it's all a complete blast.

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Alaya Elizabeth Mitchell:  I actually ended up getting this role by chance. I was asked by a friend back in June 2011 to come and see if Chris needed any more extras, and when I got there Chris asked if I would like to read for a bigger part. I auditioned in front of both Chris Maney and Samantha Katelyn Rouse, and got the part of Erin on the spot

What is Erin like?

Alaya Elizabeth Mitchell:  Erin is very carefree and girly, pretty much Camp Hollow Oak's version of the popular girl

Will this be a gory movie or more of something lurking in the background type film?

Ryan Fitting:  A little bit of both, it has its suspenseful, thriller moments with unknown creatures lurking in the darkness, and it's moments of massive gore and blood everywhere with limbs being shredded.

Alaya Elizabeth Mitchell:  And even a few parts to make you laugh

Rachel Marie Barron:  There's some lurking and I love the gory scenes too. Its been fun doing blood and horror makeup

Had you ever done that kind of makeup before?

Rachel Marie Barron:  Ive worked in plays doing all sorts of makeup but having the blood and gore come to life is so much more exciting...

Samantha, I see that you like to work both sides of the camera. What brought you to this production?

Samantha Katelyn:  To be 100% honest. Chris' music. That is how I first discovered who he was. I was browsing on Facebook and came across a video of him playing music.

So you became a fan of his music and then?

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Samantha Katelyn:  I had always been interested in the craft of art (music, singing, dancing, acting, modeling) any type of performance and when I came across his music it really shocked me. My first instinct was 'damn, this dude is talented!' From there I learned of his casting call and went on to be involved. I had previous experience with being on set.  I knew set etiquette and how things were ran.  So we just made an awesome team. From there we continued to build!

You are the casting director on the film. Did it take you long to find the kind of actors you and Chris were looking for?

Samantha Katelyn:  Yes, in the beginning Chris and I did everything. This is the indie world so we took on every task. When it comes to finding the cast that has been the biggest trial and error for us. We have made some choices individually and together that have shaped this cast into what it is now (toward the end we had others involved with casting). When it comes to the cast we have literally been knocked all the way to our knees, but we would do it 1000 times over again to get the cast we have now. Each and every one of them are so talented and bring so much life to their character. We are all truly blessed. By the way guys thank you all so much!!!

Can you elaborate on some of the trials a casting director can face?

Samantha Katelyn:  In the world of independent films (especially ones with no budget) you face many, many, many obstacles. The hardest of all lies within the word "dedication." Finding people who are willing to drive, buy food, spread the word of the film, and give all of their free time is such a challenge, but the cast of The Hollow Oak proves otherwise

Rachel Marie Barron:  Great choice Samantha,  Merideth is such a wonderful girl...

Samantha Katelyn:  I am definitely patting myself on the back with that one. It was so weird how it all happened!

Samantha. Is Merideth's role the lead role in the film? Are we seeing this through her eyes.

Samantha Katelyn:  Yes, Merideth is the perfect lead role.

In one flashback scene it is Darla's perspective and in another flashback scene it is Kate's, but we are ultimately following through the eyes of Kayla.

You said it was weird how you happened to choose Merideth for her role. Can you tell me about that?

Samantha Katelyn:  Chris and I had seen so many people that day for the open casting call. All we were doing was accepting headshots/resumes and chatting for a couple of minutes with everyone individually. When Merideth walked in I was in awe by her demeanor. She was relaxed and completely herself. She didn't over do it or under do it. If I recall correctly I looked at Chris when she walked out and said that's it, that's her. He just smiled and we both continued to keep open minds.

She received a call back and I was unfortunately not available that day, so I had to review video auditions. Chris wanted her to re-audition because he wanted to see more out of her. I said, no Chris we have to cast her now, she is perfect.   He and I went back and forth and I finally called her.  Lets just say we knew we made the right decision after seeing her performance the first time on set. BAD ASS! Love, love, loved it!

Nice story. What do you recall about your audition Merideth?

Merideth Harrison:  I recall that I was super duper nervous. They originally gave me two scripts, one for Kayla and one for Darla, who is the bad character of the story. And I really really wanted Darla because I had never played an evil character before. But honestly, I think I was more fit to play Kayla, and I'm glad I got that role.

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Caitlin Walters Piedmont:  Chris and I have been good friends for about three or four years. I wanted to pursue acting and I found out that Chris was casting for The Hollow Oak. I originally signed up to be an extra for the film, but Chris had me read a line for him and cast me as Sydney Williams instead. I absolutely love working on this film with this cast and crew and especially Chris

So you are a newcomer to acting?

Caitlin Walters Piedmont:  I had done one short film through my church when I was in high school, but this is my first feature film. I also was a parade bystander in the film Safe Haven since being cast in The Hollow Oak. I have always been into performing, however I had never really done filming before and have always been interested. I was into band, dance, gymnastics, singing, etc... but had never had the opportunity to participate in filming before. I love it and plan to continue to build a career in this field.

So you had the poise of being a performer and I guess that helped you get the part.

Caitlin Walters Piedmont:  I guess so. Honestly, I enjoy the fact that I get to pretend to be someone I'm not in filming. I don't have to go through "phases" in life trying out different lifestyles. I can stay me and turn into someone else during filming. Its kind of like Halloween, only more than once a year.

When you get into character do you prefer to stay in character through the shoot or can you snap back and forth easily?

Caitlin Walters Piedmont:  I like to keep the character in mind and feel the environment as if I'm actually there, I'm really this person and in this scene in life. But between scenes I still like to be myself when discussing things and taking breaks. I just keep my character in mind the entire time. While being myself, though, I like to think about 'if my character were doing this/that how would she do it? what would she like? what are her hobbies or favorite color?' just kind of become that person.

What kind of person is Sydney?

Caitlin Walters Piedmont:  She is part of where the story all begins. She is one of the girls that is doing witchcraft at the time the curse begins. She is a witness of what happened the night that Darla disappeared.

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Did anyone do any research into witchcraft for the movie?

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Josiaha Daniel Graham:  Yes, I actually read Wiccan books growing up. The runes used in the spell book/diary are Viking runes that I used to write the spell in the book I'm the Grip Manager for The Hollow Oak. I started working with Chris in December of last year.

What are runes?

Josiaha Daniel Graham:  A similar character in another alphabet, sometimes believed to have magic powers. Usually associated with ancient forms of writing.

Are you saying that you wrote a spell in the movie and that spell was taken from knowledge you gained from reading the Wiccan books?

Josh Daniel Graham:  I just used my knowledge to write up a fake spell.

Will you explain, for our readers, what a grip manager does?

Josiaha Daniel Graham:  
The Grip Manager's responsibility is to maintain all the equipment that supports the set and cameras. Grip is typically broken up into four sections that include Key Grip, Assistant Key Grip, Dolly Grip, and Grip Crew. For this project I typically do the job of all and I am assisted with the rest of the crew for set up and tear down.

Chris, tell me about The Rack Pack.

Chris Maney:  Darrell Rackly, a children's book author had written a book called The Rack Pack. Based off how kids these days are all about computers and computer based games, staying inside and such. Not so much the typical American kids who would play outside and get dirty.  This book is about getting out and having FUN! Being a kid and being care-free.

Darrell is good friends with Leo Daniels, owner of Premier Casting in Wilmington, and he was interested in turning the book into a screenplay and pitching it to Disney. Leo suggested that I direct and get a crew together to make Darrell's story come to life. I agreed and it will be going into production next summer. We just wrapped a small book trailer to pitch the story for funding and such about two weeks ago. It should be presented to the public the beginning of next year.

What else have you been working on?

Chris Maney:  I've also produced a short film out of Charlotte, Spore, written and directed by Jonte' Blake. Samantha actually booked the lead.

I've produced four commercials with the help of my crew:

Forkful, Daddy Dolls, Inc., Project Me Modeling School, and Sportsmans Lodge.

I mentored and cast for a short film, The Heart Beat.

Right now I'm a casting coordinator for Cinnamon which is directed and written by my current camera operator Ryan Fitting. A story about a stripper who is hired by hit men to kill men during a private dance.

And your musical background?

Chris Maney:  I've been writing music for as long as I can remember. I began playing the drums at the age of 6, and have advanced myself by learning more and more instruments as the years have passed. My main instrument, is the cello. I've been playing for twelve years. I have a little home studio where i write with today's best sound samples. Such as those used by Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badlet in Pirates Of The Carribean.

Music is where I escape to, literally.

You also help with scoring other films I think. Is that right?

Chris Maney:  I do. I'm scoring The hollow Oak, The Legend Of Seven Toe Maggie, The Rack Pack, and Cinnamon. I'm leaving for Los Angeles next year with a few friends to find more work in this field. Scoring is what I want to do with the rest of my life and I don't see myself doing anything else.

Randy Newman move over. (grin)  How is the production of The Hollow Oak coming and what's needed to complete it?

Chris Maney:  I won't lie it has been tough. We are in need of some major funds to finish by July of 2013. We need heavy lighting, rigging, camera and audio gear, food, locations, and the list goes on.

I see you have an Indiegogo campaign started to raise money to complete the movie. How can people help?

Chris Maney:  Well, sharing the link and liking it will help us up on the gogofactor.

Indiegogo measures the activity of a campaign using an algorithm they call the gogofactor. Search rankings, placement on the site, featured spots in our newsletter or blog, and inclusion in our press outreach are all determined by the gogofactor. Indiegogo is a merit-based platform, which means that campaigns earn featured spots by staying active.

We have perks such as: A download of the finished film, posters, signed posters, the DVD, the soundtrack, IMDb credits, props from the film, even Darla's costume.

Even a dollar will help, anything donated is highly appreciated and will help so much.

The Hollow Oak movie on Facebook

The Hollow Oak website

Chris Maney Productions

The Hollow Oak Fundraising Campaign at

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