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West Virginia movie delivers unique experience for cast and crew

By Joe Dashiell, jdashiell@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jun 30 2013 06:57:28 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 01 2013 12:13:21 AM EDT

The movie was filmed in Cass, West Virginia.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -

 Moviegoers were lining up for the Angel's Perch premiere, and Homer Hunter was nervous.
 
"I'm so excited I don't even know what to say," Hunter told us. "You might say in the old hometown, I'm flabbergasted."

Waiting for his movie debut, he shouldn't have worried. An audience filled with family and friends cheered whenever he appeared on screen as the local postmaster.

"Went up there, did my little part and I couldn't leave," Hunter told the audience after the premiere. "Stayed every day."

If Angel's Perch brought a little bit of Hollywood to the hills of West Virginia, Director Charles Haine says the pace of life in Pocahontas County had an impact on the production.  Filming within the quiet zone that surrounds the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank meant there were no cellphones to distract the cast and crew.
 
"Nobody was on Facebook, nobody was on Instagram, and everybody was just there on set with each other," Haine told us. "And if you had five minutes to kill waiting on a light to get set up you're talking to an actor about their performance. All of a sudden you're talking to a lighting person about a scene the next day instead of reading the Washington Post on your phone. So there was this wonderful sense of being there in Cass that I find very hard to get other places."

Hollywood veteran Ellen Crawford also found a lot to like in Cass, from the railroad that once hauled logs for West Virginia Pulp and Paper, to the scenic countryside.   "It was a treat in every way," Crawford said. "I mean there was that historic aspect of it and the beauty of the mountains, this terrific script to work on as well."

That script was written with Cass in mind.

Writer, producer and lead actor J. T. Arbogast spent his summers there as a child. His grandmother's experience with Alzheimer's Disease provided the inspiration for the story. And her home on Main Street served as the set for many of the movie's most poignant scenes.

"Our goal from day one was really to celebrate the community and these people that we call our family," Arbogast said, "and I hope we've done good by 'em."