Filmmakers shoot long trailer in Pawhuska

Robert Smith
Hamid Thompson, at top, gestures enthusiastically in a photo with his fellow movie-crew members. Others pictured include, bottom row from left right, Anna Quinn, Mikey Cosentino and Gabe Pipas; and second row from left to right,	Secori Barlow, Ryan Monolopolus, River Novin, Elle Jewell, Carlos Velasco, Sam Green, Cara Tripodis and Neil Dearman.

A group of aspiring movie makers and their crew recently spent about a week in Pawhuska, intensively shooting footage for an extended film trailer intended for use in soliciting financial backing.

That 10-minute, extended trailer, referred to in the business as a “Proof of Concept,” is in part intended to show that the movie makers can produce a high quality product using non-professional actors on location in the Pawhuska area.

Ryan Monolopolus, 26; Hamid Thompson, 29; and Mikey “New Jersey” Cosentino, 31, spoke for the group in an interview with the Pawhuska Journal-Capital. Monolopolus is the writer and director of the film, the working title for which is “Grobb.” Thompson is a producer, and Cosentino is an executive producer. Additionally, Paris Schulman is an executive producer and Sam Green is a line producer.

The group is based out of Atlanta and is dedicated to building something new from the ground up. They have experience in the film industry, but they hope to become a new generation of storytellers based outside Hollywood and not beholden to the creative and business culture there.

“Some people looked at us like we were crazy,” Monolopolus said.

Monolopolus explained the story they’re trying to tell in “Grobb” is based around Pawhuska, and most of the main characters are to be Osage. The basic story as they’ve developed it is that a group of “gentle, giant aliens” lands in Oklahoma and befriends the Osage people. A secret government organization tries to capture the aliens and kill off anyone who knows about them. The aliens and the Osage collaborate.

Monolopolus said Rosemary Woods, 79, a local talent, has been tapped to play the role of an Osage elder in the film.

“She found out she had the role on her seventy-ninth birthday,” Monolopolus said. “Her whole life, she’s wanted to act, so it’s cool to get her involved.”

“In order to shoot the full feature, it’s going to take a lot of resources,” he added, explaining why the creative crew recently spent a week in Pawhuska. Monolopolus recalled he began knocking on doors in Pawhuska back in April, looking for assistance with the project. In August, they met Elle Jewell, a film-industry veteran with Pawhuska ties, and she helped with the casting call and subsequently was asked to be one of the Oklahoma producers along with veteran producer, Dylan Brodie.

Cosentino said the vision and “crazy” work ethic that Monolopolus brings to the project are keys to its development.

Thompson said he thinks the group that has formed around the creation of “Grobb” is distinctive because of its positive, nurturing spirit and the willingness of participants to help each other improve at what they’re doing.

Monolopolus said he wants to be able to use the film to address social issues, such as rural poverty and the displacement of native people by the dominant American culture. He hopes to push the boundaries of technology and special effects during the movie-making process, he said.

Local people and groups to which the creative group directed thanks for help that has been provided include: Kathryn Chambers, John Free, Rock Pipestem, the Osage Nation, Steve Easley (Pee Wee), Paul May/Osage Trading Post, Shawn McGuire, Ellis Thomas, Steve and Susie Holcombe; Mr. and Mrs. Randy Smith; Eric Gomez; and all the wonderful and generous volunteers, including the many extras who worked tirelessly through the night to film.