Horror film fan takes interest to next level

Lance Nowell is a serious horror film fan. He has met George Romero, director of the zombie trilogy “Night of the Living Dead”, “Dawn of the Dead” and “Day of the Dead”.

Lance Nowell hopes his bit role in an independent film doesn't end up on the cutting room floor. He was one of 60 from the audition turnout of 300 who got a call back from the makers of "The Possession", filmed in Washington County in 2010. Nowell was chosen as an extra by the same man who directed "The Blair Witch Project", a wildly popular film from 1999, shot at Seneca State Park near Burkittsville, Md. The low budget movie, made for less than $750,000, went on to gross $250 million worldwide.

Since the filming a year ago the movie has been renamed “Lovely Molly.” It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Now the film is making its local premiere Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Leitersburg Cinemas. Ticket availability can be determined by visiting haxanfilms.com

“I’m excited to see the film whether I make it on the screen on not,” said Nowell. “Just having the opportunity to be involved in it in any way is the accomplishment for me as a fan of horror movies.”

Getting the call

Director Eduardo Sanchez shot the horror flick in September and October of 2010, mostly in Washington County. The casting call was Saturday, Oct. 2 at The Academy Theatre in Hagerstown. It took Nowell, 38, just 10 minutes to fill out paperwork and pose for a headshot. "OK, we'll call you," he was told.

And they did. He was involved in a scene recorded three weeks later at Dahlgren Chapel in Boonsboro. Ordered to appear in his 'Sunday best', Nowell wore a suit and tie. He was seated in the church along with major characters Johnny Lewis and Alexandra Holden, playing a groom and his sister-in-law. Lewis, 27, from Los Angeles, acted in the television series "Sons of Anarchy", and many other TV series and movies. Holden, 33, a native of Northfield, Minn., appeared in "Drop Dead Gorgeous", "Sugar and Spice", and many television programs and other movies.

With multiple takes, the two or three minute scene was completed in three hours.

"I deemed myself 'the creepy guy in pew number five,'" Nowell said cheerfully.

Being an extra

He was impressed with the attention paid to detail by Sanchez, who co-wrote the script. "I enjoy watching movies. To see one being made, and see every little thing that has to be in place perfectly, was something else. The director has an eye for that. It all wraps up into his vision."

A crew of 20 was on the set with cameras, booms, wardrobe supplies and other duties. Nowell knew he was in view of the camera lens from the side, but also as parishioners walked out of the church. "I was two feet behind the sister of a main character and her son," he said. "I probably have a better chance of my backside being in the film."

He was not paid for his performance and did not care.

"I am a horror movie fan," he said. "Just to be there and do it was fun."

During the filming little was known about the plot of the movie. Publicity materials relate that the horror/thriller centers on one troubled young woman and the evil power that exists inside of her.

Getting attention

Nowell has no aspirations to become an actor, but he does enjoy being in front of an audience. For the past six years he has been the Scoreboard Cowboy for the Hagerstown Suns, working in front of 800 to 5,000 baseball fans on a given night. He also participated in a music video for a local band, starring as a zombie. More recently he was an extra in the independent film “Greencastle”.

"I had two acting gigs in three days and got a beer out of the last one," he said.

Nowell and his wife Heather make their home in Mercersburg. The 1992 Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate does not let his daughter Zoe, 7, watch scary movies. He remembers that the first time he saw one he didn't sleep for a week.