GRUNDY — The word “believe” is far more than an expression of faith for people in Grundy these days.
It is a town-transforming excursion into the world of movie productions.
Scenes from “Believe,” a Christmas movie that will be released in November, is being filmed in Grundy.
On Friday, Walnut Street, which runs in front of the Buchanan County Courthouse, was closed off as movie crews set up lights, cameras and equipment and actors and production teams scurried around getting ready for the next scene.
All around the street were trucks full of equipment, and one parking lot was full of trailers with makeup rooms and quarters for actors with golden stars emblazoned on the doors.
Among the hustle and bustle were two actors, Grundy native Ryan O’Quinn and Princeton native Kevin Sizemore, as well as associate producer Katy Davidson, also a Grundy native.
O’Quinn is the star, playing a business owner trying to save the local Christmas pageant after his business is unexpectedly shut down, and he is the reason why the film crew is in Grundy.
O’Qunn, a 1990 Grundy High School graduate and a resident of Los Angeles for 21 years, said he had worked with a producer, Billy Dickson, on six commercials last year.
“He sent me some scripts he had written,” O’Quinn said, “and one really resonated with me.”
That script was set in a small town in Pennsylvania and featured down-to-earth, hard-working people, very much like those O’Quinn grew up with.
He talked with Dickson about the script and asked if it would be possible to have the setting in Grundy, rather than in Pennsylvania.
Dickson agreed and the ball started rolling.
He, O’Quinn and executive producer Nelson Diaz visited Grundy last July to meet with the county’s board of supervisors and town officials to see if Grundy would be interested in hosting some of the filming.
It all worked out and planning started.
O’Quinn, who has an improv-comedy and strong acting background, has been busy since high school.
He has performed in many television shows, including Beverly Hills, 90210, Alias, JAG, ER, Melrose Place and 3rd Rock from the Sun and feature films such as “Starship Troopers” and “That Thing You Do,” which was directed by Tom Hanks.
O’Quinn is also an author, penning two books, “Marriage Rules” and “Parenting Rules.”
But being back home is a nice break.
“It’s great to be here,” he said. “It’s amazing to come back and reconnect with people I know.”
Same is true for Sizemore, who graduated from Princeton High School in 1990 and attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Like O’Quinn, he eventually found his way to Los Angeles and has been there for 18 years.
Along the way, he has acted in many commercials and TV shows, such as “Under the Dome,” “Rizzoli and Isles,” and “NCIS,” and currently has a recurring role in the AMC series, “Fear the Walking Dead.”
He has appeared in movies as well, including “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “The Night Guardian.”
Sizemore has also ventured into other aspects of the business, including writing and producing films.
He recently produced and starred in the movie, “Woodlawn,” bringing a showing to his hometown at the Chuck Mathena Center last year.
Sizemore said he got the acting “bug” early and initially made commercials, working his way through the business to advance.
He learned quickly there is little “glamour” in the profession.
“Acting is a business,” he said. “You have to run ‘you’ to be successful. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, as well as sacrifices.”
The greatest reward, he said, is to be in a position to have an impact on the audience.
“When you can touch someone, maybe make them think in a different way, that’s special,” he said.
Sizemore said that anyone interested in pursing a career in the film business has to make a commitment to it.
“There are markets out there,” he said. “Atlanta and Charlotte are great places to go (to find an agent and maybe get work).
“You only need one person” to see you who can give you a break, he added.
Sizemore has a role in the movie, “Miracles from Heaven,” which is being released this month and two movies he co-produced, “Trew Calling” and “Hospice,” are in post-production.
Katy Davidson said she is new to the business, but loves it.
“I’ve been working on this project for six months,” she said. “We started filming in Bristol on Dec. 3 (the Christmas parade), and we filmed here on De. 12 (Grundy’s Christmas parade).”
Davidson had high praise for the people in Grundy and Buchanan County.
“The town of Grundy has been fabulous,” she said. “They have welcomed us with open arms.”
Davidson said getting ready for production is quite a job and requires the cooperation of just about everyone in town.
She said Mary Belcher, director of the chamber of commerce, and James Keene, town manager, have both been “great.”
A crew of about 70 is in town, she said, and the filming will continue through March 13.
O’Quinn said the big day of filming is on March 12, and it will give everyone in the area an opportunity to participate.
A huge outdoor festival will take place at Poplar Gap Park.
“It’s a giant festival and a free concert with great music,” he said. “We would like to see hundreds of people there, thousands.”
Since it’s part of the movie, O’Quinn said everyone is invited but they must wear clothing they would wear at Christmas time.
Other stars of the movie include Shawnee Smith (“The Blob” and “Saw”), David Deluise (son of the late actor Dom Deluise) and Isaac Ryan Brown (“Black-ish” and “How to Get Away with Murder”).
Davidson said “Believe,” which tells how O’Quinn with the help of others saves the pageant, will be released in November in 1,200 to 1,500 theaters nationwide.
“We will have some special screenings in this area,” she said.
— Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org.