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Natchez bites: Vampire filming ongoing

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Make up artist Lilit Alexandrian applies artificial blood to actor James McPhate’s face on the set of film “Rise Again” outside of Hawthorne Thursday afternoon. At top, a clapperboard is seen through a monitor as the beginning of a scene from the movie.

Natchez — The movie “Rise Again,” starring some of Natchez’s own, kicked off filming this week around town.

The cast and crew were at Hawthorne on Thursday afternoon filming scenes that take place after one of the battles in the movie.

Cast members walked around the set covered in fake blood and costumed in Civil War-era style garb

The movie is the story of two brothers, who are Confederate soldiers, and their struggle to rid themselves of a curse and return home to their family after the war ends. The movie also features vampires and zombies.

Natchez local Ritchie Montgomery, who also played in this year’s hit “The Help,” as well as several other movies, is lending his acting talents to the movie as the character “Ferris Hoagland.”

Montgomery said he told the crew he would get to do something he had never done while filming other movies.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever walked to work,” he said laughing.

Director Craig Ross Jr. was busy on set checking camera shots, discussing scenes with actors and performing his numerous other directorial duties.

“Everything is going good, it’s great,” Ross said as he watched crewmembers apply fake blood to dead characters between a take.

Ray Stoney auditioned for the movie about a month ago in Los Angeles, and was cast in the movie as “Griff.” Stoney, who has played in “Remember the Titans” and a number of TV shows, said Natchez is reminiscent of his hometown of Charleston, S.C.

“The people here are extremely friendly,” he said. “It definitely reminds me of home, and it’s a little refreshing to be around such friendly people compared to L.A.”

Natchez native Jane Ring Wells is working on the film as the first assistant director. Wells, who now lives in New York, said it’s been amazing to come home and see people she hasn’t in a while and is proud to be working in Natchez.

“I love Natchez so much, and I’m so proud of it,” she said. “It’s great to have the opportunity to show it off.”

Trey Wilson is also a Natchez native happy to be working on this film in his hometown. Wilson is the key set production assistant and is on his 12th film in two years.

“The best part is getting to be with my family,” he said. “It’s been great getting to spend time with them.”

Natchez Little Theatre regulars Dwight Williams and Rachel Lindsey were cast in “Rise Again,” the first film for each of the actors.

Williams said filming movies was completely different than theater. He said the film has been a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

Williams said the choice of Natchez as the movie’s filming location was perfect.

“I think it’s great,” Williams said. “Natchez is perfect for this movie.”

Lindsey said her character doesn’t even have a name, but she is having the time of her life.

“I never thought playing dead would be this much fun,” she said.