By Allen Payton
While attending Antioch High School, Anthony C. Ferrante took a film course at Los Medanos College. The movie director, who gained fame with his four Sharknado films, has been back in Antioch, over the past two weeks, filming a TV thriller entitled Forgotten Evil.
“My very first film I shot at the El Campanil Theatre but the lights went out,” Ferrante said in an interview this week. “I shot a whole other horror film in the basement and at the Riverview Lodge.”
“I filmed a lot of different things in Antioch,” he added.
Besides his course at LMC, Ferrante earned his liberal arts degree in film studies from San Francisco State. He also used to be the entertainment critic for the former Antioch Ledger-Dispatch newspaper, for years.
He shared how the idea of returning to his hometown came about.
“I actually had been trying to find something I could do in Antioch for awhile,” Ferranted stated. “We shot for a day in San Francisco for Sharknado 4. Then after I said ‘Let’s drive back through Antioch on our way back to L.A.’”
“I forgot how cool downtown was,” he offered.
That was earlier this year. Then he was asked to direct his latest film.
“When this project happened, they asked me where I wanted to shoot. I said ‘why don’t we look at Antioch,’” Ferrante said. “I got to revisit the place I did my first short films.”
“I wrote the script four weeks ago, and I kept thinking about Antioch and it was perfect,” he continued.
So, he and his crew arrived a few weeks ago and began recruiting family, friends and other local residents to be extras in the film
“We shot a few days at the high school. We changed the script to fit where we were shooting,” Ferrante explained. “We decided to call Antioch, Antioch in the script. But we’re also shooting in a coastal city.”
They also shot at the site of his first film, the El Campanil.
“One of our producers back in L.A. said they were stunned at how good the theater looked,” he stated. “It’s such a beautiful downtown. Film companies are always looking for places that are easy to do it without a lot of hassle.”
Ferrante said he is “hoping by setting the movie in downtown that other movies will be made here.”
“It still has a small town feel and attitude,” he added.
Ferrante offered his appreciation and thoughts about Antioch.
“Everything you’re trying to do to revitalize it, like the concerts,” he offered. “It looks like you’re looking at a town out of time. It’s just gorgeous.”
He wanted people to know how supportive and how positive that everyone has been.
“It’s been really cool,” Ferrante stated. “A lot of friends have been coming out and hanging out. Every time we’ve turned around there’s been generosity.”
He was grateful for the support of the Antioch Police, the Chief, the Antioch High School, the principal.
“We also used Martin Gonsalves’ law offices,” he explained. “Rick Carraher of the El Campanil has been amazing. City hall has been great getting us the permits and allowing us to shoot here. Lynn [Kutsal, owner] of Nature’s Bounty has been catering for us and making great food. The carrot cake with cream cheese on top has been the best thing ever. The enchilada chicken salad everyone just loved.”
They also shot some of the film at the Antioch Police Facility and the marina, this week.
“This all kind of worked out,” Ferrante continued. “We used the locals for extras. We’ve been low maintenance for the most part.”
On Monday, August 22nd they filmed inside and outside of the El Campanil Theatre, including in the basement in one of the “creepy rooms” in the front of the building, as described by a member of the film crew. That was also when they needed the most extras, to play members of the audience inside the auditorium. About 100 residents were there. A few were asked to remain for the shooting of the outside scenes. The extras were paid $10 per hour for their participation.
They also shot some of the footage at the Antioch Police Facility and the marina, this week.
Today and Friday will be their last days of filming, in Antioch.
“Then we’re done and start working on editing,” Ferrante said.
The main actors of Forgotten Evil include Masiela Lusha, who was in Sharknado 4 but gained her fame as the daughter of George Lopez in the TV series of the same name.
Ferrante shared more about the made for TV movie.
“I started the script in mid-June,” he explained. “The company came to me with a bunch of thrillers. I picked out the one I was most interested in and gave it some treatment.”
“Sharknado 4 we started in February and delivered it to the network in July,” Ferranted shared. “It was a very short time period for making a movie.”
Asked about when we can see Antioch in his new movie, he replied “I have to have it finished by the end of the year. It probably will air early next year.”
The movie will be sold, once it’s finished. Ferrante isn’t sure yet to which company that will be nor on which channel it will air. But, he hopes to let Antioch residents see it, first.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to do some kind of screening or something,” Ferrante added. “Possibly at the El Campanil Theatre. That’s where we’d love to have it.”
Ferrante is married. They have one daughter and live in Los Angeles. One of his sisters still lives in Antioch and the other lives in Napa.
So, expect to see him back in town, not only for the screening, but hopefully more movie making in the future.