The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)

Lights, cameras, action

Filmmaker begins production around county

- By Richard Payerchin rpayerchin@morningjou­rnal.com

There’s a murder mystery developing in Lorain this month — and it will be solved when filming is done.

For the next two weeks, Lorain-based filmmaker and writer J. Carlos Gonzalez is directing the eightepiso­de television show “Searchers,” a teen murder mystery, on location around Lorain County.

Gonzalez penned the script in 2019 in hopes of shooting in summer 2020, but that was delayed due to the novel coronaviru­s pandemic.

A donor added the funds to spark the episodes this year, Gonzalez said.

Production has begun with a goal of airing in January or October 2022, depending on possible distributi­on deals, he said.

“It’s just evolving,” Gonzalez said.

The plot involves a girl trying to find her way spirituall­y while hunting for the murderer of her best friend, he said.

Gonzalez and the crew did not disclose exact details of the plot.

But, Lorain actor Kenny Santiago Marrero and Gonzalez’ wife, Helena, compared it to the popular mystery series “Veronica Mars” and “Stranger Things.”

The film crew tries to be low-key to avoid disturbing the public, but area residents may see them out and about in the next two weeks, Gonzalez said.

On Aug. 23, the second day of filming, the crew landed at the Lorain Arts Council, 737 Broadway Ave. in Lorain.

The first floor was filled with painted portraits of Black leaders, athletes and performers.

Below, the basement was transforme­d to the lair of “The Wheatfield Killer.”

Actor Chad Austin Kerr, doubling as first assistant director, has been a friend of Gonzalez since their days working with Revision Films, a LaGrange-based youth group dedicated to making movies.

For the film, Kerr’s hands were zip-tied behind his back and he wore makeup to look like he had a rough encounter there.

The lighting was dim and the atmosphere hazy.

On the wall, hung dozens of “missing persons” posters.

They looked convincing, but all were props populated with photos from Gonzalez’ social media friends who gave permission for their pictures to be used.

Leading actress Morgan Reddinger was not there, but Marrero was, complete with prop police badges, pistols and jackets.

They were working with freelance filmmakers Tim McLaughlin, who primarily focuses on editing, but delves into other production parts, and Kevin Coyne, director of photograph­y.

“Through a lot of prayer, these guys said yes,” Gonzalez said.

He credited Kerr with making the connection­s with McLaughlin and Coyne.

“When I came into this, I was bringing my ‘A’ game,” Gonzalez said. “These guys are bringing their ‘A’ plus plus game.

“The level of work and craftsmans­hip is Hollywood-style. It’s up there, it’s Netflix quality.

“I tell them what I want and they make it better,” Gonzalez said.

The work is a team effort, said Antonio Barrios, Lorain Arts Council president and collaborat­or with Gonzalez on the movie “That Day.”

Having a location to film in may seem like a minor issue — but movies and television shows would not happen without them, Barrios said.

For the next two weeks, Lorainbase­d filmmaker and writer J. Carlos Gonzalez is directing the eight-episode television show “Searchers,” a teen murder mystery, on location around Lorain County.

 ?? RICHARD PAYERCHIN — THE MORNING JOURNAL ?? Lorain-based filmmaker and writer J. Carlos Gonzalez stands in front of a wall at the Lorain Arts Council created as a set piece for “Searchers,” a teen murder mystery in production this month in Lorain County. Incidental­ly, Lorain is not inundated with missing persons cases. The posters are props created with photos from Gonzalez’ friends on social media.
RICHARD PAYERCHIN — THE MORNING JOURNAL Lorain-based filmmaker and writer J. Carlos Gonzalez stands in front of a wall at the Lorain Arts Council created as a set piece for “Searchers,” a teen murder mystery in production this month in Lorain County. Incidental­ly, Lorain is not inundated with missing persons cases. The posters are props created with photos from Gonzalez’ friends on social media.

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