An inside look at the production being shot in NEA
It’s a steaming 90 degrees Tuesday evening in a hot warehouse shop building off of Highway 1 in Jonesboro, just past the Welcome to sign. I’m escorted into the room by a man holding a clipboard. Cameras and lights are all aimed toward a group of actors, one of which stands out as larger than the others. I’ve gone from the bright exterior to a completely dark room and I can make out the silhouette of a large figure. I’m staring at Mick Foley.
He’s so kind, you don’t realize he’s the center of attention until events in the room circulate around him. His voice is soft, except when directed to shout. Hearing him use expletives as needed in the scene is also unusual, as he’s not known for that in his most famed role as deranged professional wrestler Mankind.
It’s part of the filming for the movie 12-Hour Shift. The film is described as a dark horror comedy about group of nurses stealing organs and selling them on the black market. At Tuesday night’s on-location set, it appears we are seeing both organs being stolen and sold. The shoot in a dirty car garage with thugs playing cards while a woman surround by liquor bottles gets painfully “her navel pierced.” That’s the explanation given by Foley’s character, a villainous character who is not pleased to learn that a cooler full of human organs was empty.
It’s not easy work. This particular scene includes Foley’s character, “Nicholas” on the receiving end of unhappy information. Emotions and outbursts must all be repeated over and over. They alter the take slightly each time, sometimes with less emotion and one time, with “Nick” filling the room with the screaming command that he “needs those fucking organs.”
However, it’s a jovial atmosphere on set. People are friendly and appear to be having a great time. There’s enjoyment in working in Jonesboro and it’s beginning of more to come in this area for the crew. 7 PM is the planned break for lunch. A vehicle siren pauses the scene. As Foley begins to deliver one of his lines, a Jonesboro favorite happens – a small engine car revs its engine up. People silently laugh in the background.
“Do we need to do that one again?” Foley asks.
They do, Director and writer Brea Grant says with smiles.
As Grant is satisfied after a few more takes, they break for lunch – at 7 PM. The doors open. Light enters the dark room.
And David Arquette walks in with a Shetland pony.
Much of the crew doesn’t take long to swarm the miniature horse with love and attention. Arquette has created a social media buzz with photos of him at Diego Ranch. Both he and wife Christina McLarty have taken their boys to the ranch to ride horses and enjoy the beauty of The Natural State while they produce the film in Jonesboro.
“We’re staying at an AirBNB and on this ranch is a guy named Michael Jackson who has turned my son into a cowboy,” McLarty said. “He’s just an incredible person that works with kids with disability and autism. All sorts of amazing work he’s doing.”
Many have asked how the film-making family ended up here. Arkansas is making a larger push to attract film projects. Incentives like 20-percent on goods and services with another 10 percent for Arkansas workforce – a free labor credit basically – is drawing more to the area. But there was another draw for the film’s creators: Arkansas is home for McLarty.
“I’m loving it. I’m from Arkansas, my family is from Arkansas. I was a news reporter in Little Rock – my first job. I participated in the Arkansas Cinema Society last year in Little Rock with a documentary we did and I was so excited to see all the great things happening in Arkansas as a filmmaking community, specifically the incentives. So I went back to LA really like ‘Oh I want to come back to Arkansas and make films.’ And, I aligned myself with Jordan Long, Matt Glass, and Tara Perry of HCT Media. We’ve worked together before and Tara and Jordan are Arkansans as well. And so we were like, let’s do this! Brea has an incredible script she wrote and is directing. We brought it to Arkansas. We told the governor and he’s really supportive of the artistic/filmmaking community in Arkansas. So we’re taking advantage of the rebates and plan to make this one of many films we come back home for.”
“We’re excited to see the continued growth of the film industry in Arkansas, along with the first-rate production houses that have taken notice and the caliber of projects being created here,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Arquette was all smiles as he spoke to NEA Report about the production. He said the director and writer, Grant, had created an amazing story which he was excited to tell. But adding to the excitement for Arquette was getting to work with someone he had always hoped to.
“The fact that I get to work with Mick Foley is a dream of mine,” Arquette said. “He’s doing us a favor. We’re doing a low budget movie cause it’s hard. It’s our first film in Arkansas. We really want to bring movies here.”
He has almost two million followers on Twitter, he beat The Rock for the WWE Championship, and he even coined the phrase, “Mmm. Beefy” for Chef Boyardee. But on set, Foley is the most approachable and laid back person there.
“I’m coming in just to take a hip-toss, a dropkick, and I’m out of here,” Foley joked.
It’s not the first time the Hardcore Legend has been in Jonesboro. He wrestled here years ago, far before he became a New York Times Best Selling Author (several times over).
“I think there are more people in this warehouse than were at some of my matches in Jonesboro,” Foley said.
Foley doesn’t play the ‘good guy’ in this role. In the scene we watched, he’s acting out his displeasure across from the beautiful, innocent looking character played by actress Chloe Farnworth.
“We can’t tell them too much except I am a man in the organ trading selling business and I’m not happy because Regina, played by Chloe, has shown up with a cooler with no kidney in it,” Foley said.
For Foley, one of the joys of the project he describe comes from getting to work with young talent. The wrestling star who helped build stars like The Rock, Triple H, and Randy Orton still yearns for the feeling of making new moments for younger performers.
“I really enjoyed getting to work with Chloe,” Foley said. “What a great young actress. You always hope you get to be part of someone’s break out moment. She’s dynamite.”
Foley’s shoot lasted late into Tuesday night but by Wednesday morning, his work on the film was finished. The project is wrapping up its production in Jonesboro, too. Cast and crew expect to be finished in Arkansas this week. The film is expected to be finished this summer. Angela Bettis, Chloe Farnworth, Kit Williamson, Tara Perry, Nikea Gamby-Turner, and wrestler Mick Foley star. Emmy award winning duo Jordan Wayne Long and Matt Glass of HCT Media are producing.
But we expect we will see Arquette and McLarty back in the Delta before long.
“No, I want to come back,” McLarty said. “I’m like looking at Zillow right now!”