Lights, Camera, Action

Live painter at Kentucky Classic at Hermitage Farm.

By Janice Carter Levitch

When Elizabeth Wortham Rallis, associate producer at Stargazer Films, called to tell me that I’d be making my film debut (OK, really I was just an extra) in a movie being released this month on the Lifetime network, it seemed like she was being funny. You see, Elizabeth is usually in hyperspeed-associate-producer mode and doesn’t have a lot of time for mischief. Then, she went on to explain that when I had visited the set for a movie filmed in Oldham County back in January, I was included in a wedding reception scene. Still, I thought she was joking. She was not.

It seems that the day I visited the set, the casting director, Anthony Del Negro, had noticed me standing off to the side while interviewing local artist Jeaneen Barnhart, who had several of her equestrian art pieces featured in the film as a nod to the horse-farm theme in the script.

Producer and co-founder of Stargazer Films Zach O’Brien, film director Sam Irvin, Janice, CEO of Brown-Forman Tim Laird and David Danielson.

Anthony thought I was an extra in the scene they were about to shoot, and he had me step in.

It all came about because Jeaneen and I had taken a drive out to the filming location (a rustic barn in Oldham County) so she could introduce me to the crew and get an in-depth interview with her on set. We had a blast, even though it was incredibly cold, and we were swept away by the energy swirling around us. I immediately felt at home being back on a set, which reminded me of the Aerosmith song, “Back in the Saddle.” (Yes, that was an attempt at an equestrian pun). Whether it’s a fashion shoot or a movie location, I get caught up in the fast pace of it all and feel enamored by the stockpile of camera equipment surrounding me. And, it truly is lights, camera, action.

Stargazer Films has produced several movies filmed right here in Kentucky and they are making quite a name for themselves. As associate producer, Elizabeth is adamant about featuring Kentucky products in every film she works on such as Ale-8-One drinks (made in Winchester) along with patriotic red, white and blue vintage Corvettes (made in Bowling Green) and, of course, locally-made bourbon.

“It’s important to include Kentucky products on these films we are producing,” Elizabeth commented. “It’s an opportunity to showcase what we have to offer and raise awareness within the film industry. (People should know) that this is a fantastic place for locations, locally made products and the talent available.”

She has made sure the items used are intricately placed in specific shots throughout the Fourth of July scenes for the film she is currently working on. The night I visited the filming location at Brown-Forman’s Chief Entertainment Officer Tim Laird’s home he shares with his wife Lori, the crew was hopping and the energy was mesmerizing. I can’t wait to see how this one comes out. Also, stay tuned for my next venture that includes Tim when I visit his TV show “Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs.”

Moving onward with the movie theme, I made my way out to Hermitage Farm in Goshen for the Kentucky Classic. It was a festive weekend of family fun that included everything from face painting and food trucks to combined driving events (translation: a team of horses with a person steering a carriage) and live music. As I walked around the farm, I heard the music of the group on stage and was immediately spellbound. It transported me to another era – the lead singer reminded me of Ricky Ricardo on the classic TV show “I Love Lucy.” Coincidentally, his name is Rick Quisol, and he’s the lead singer of The Dimestore Dandy. Their sound combines vintage hot jazz with western swing. Rick has a certain magnetic quality about his voice, a smooth vocal range resembling Frank Sinatra and the demeanor of Desi Arnaz. What a treat it was having a snapshot taken with him after they finished their performance. It reminds me of just how vibrantly welcoming our community is – bursting at the seams with opportunities and great people. VT

Avery Wilson steering a team of Steve Wilson’s Lipizzans in the Kentucky Classic. Photo by Andrea Hutchinson.