WAYNESBURG – For one night later this month, Waynesburg will be transformed into a town facing the apocalypse resulting from the spread of an alien chemical agent during the filming of a science fiction horror movie.
High Street will be closed for an hour the night of Saturday, Aug. 26, as Pittsburgh-area movie production companies Cineworx Productions, Dreaming Droids Productions and Tredd Productions, film the feature-length movie “Night Zero.”
The companies received approval last month from Waynesburg Borough Council and the state Department of Transportation to close High Street from Morgan Street to Fruit Alley from 9 to 10 p.m. to film on the street in front of the courthouse.
The company also will film inside the courthouse from about 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. with the approval of Greene County commissioners.
The sets will be closed to the public, though people might be able to view the action from a distance, said Tredd Barton of Tredd Productions of Washington.
Mark Cantu, writer and director, who visited the courthouse Tuesday with Barton and others involved in the project, described the movie as “an alien invasion set as a character drama.”
The film is about a group of six friends who get together for a weekend and whose members face a number of unresolved relationship issues, including one couple’s divorce. However, a “larger threat” looms outside in the form of an alien chemical attack that drives affected people crazy, Cantu said. The chemical dissolves peoples’ inhibitions and releases them “to feed on their fear and rage,” he said.
The group of friends remains trapped inside a house. Downtown Waynesburg will be the location of the “final struggle” when those that are left make a break for freedom.
High Street will be transformed into the end of the world setting with wrecked cars and possibly a few dead bodies, Cantu said. The courthouse, itself, will represent a police station.
Waynesburg was chosen for the shoot when the production companies began looking for an “iconic, idealistic, small town” in which to film, and Waynesburg officials answered the call.
Barton said he contacted several towns in the area.
“They (Waynesburg officials) were the first to call me back,” he said.
Within about three days, he said, he met with officials from the borough, county and Greene County court and received approval for the shoot.
“They were very, very welcoming,” Barton said. “It was kind of amazing.”
Normally, it takes weeks to even get an initial response, he said.
The production companies produce films Cantu described as “indie,” or independent, films. Actors and production members are all from the Pittsburgh area.
“We try to make Hollywood-quality films based on small budgets,” Barton said.
Cantu’s company, Cineworx, released two other feature-length films directly to DVD: “Now Hiring,” a super hero comedy, and “Elite,” a military action thriller.
Barton’s company also co-produced a movie, “The Chop,” that will premier Aug. 26 at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont. He noted the race car scene for that movie was filmed in the parking lot of the Wild Things field near Washington.
If everything goes as planned, “Night Zero” will be released to DVD by the companies’ distributor, Lost Empire Films, Dec. 12. It will then be available in local Target, Best Buy and Walmart stores.
A premiere will be held in Pittsburgh sometime around the date of the film’s release, and another premiere might be scheduled in Waynesburg, Cantu said.