By Richard Rourk
Unicoi County has been the backdrop to many stories – both fiction and nonfiction.
For the production company, Underfoot Films, Unicoi County was the location for a large portion of the filming of its feature film, “Ghosts of Cumberland Gap.”
“We recently filmed the final dramatic scene of ‘Ghosts of Cumberland Gap,’ at the Bogart-Bowman Cabin, 5012 Unicoi Drive, on Aug.30,” director A.J. Rose said. “This film has featured actors and crewmembers from across the Tri-Cities. Dozens of local extras, costumed in early 1900s period attire, volunteered their time for scenes, including several members of the Unicoi Historical Society, Rocky Mount, the Appalachian Renaissance Faire, and Sycamore Shoals Historic Association.”
The feature film is written and directed by Rose, and filmed in association with Ceridwen Productions in Virginia. It will be making its film festival debut in January.
“In the winter of 1901, newly-orphaned Sydney Applewood arrives with her loyal caretaker Hester in tow. Sydney has never met her wealthy cold-hearted Aunt Grace, whose care she will now be under; but she quickly learns the rules of ‘Never Go Out After Dark, Never Speak of Music, Never Talk to Children, and most importantly, Never Unlock the East Wing.’ Together, Sydney and Hester attempt to discover the secrets behind Cumberland Manor, and the haunted land it sits on: the Cumberland Gap.”
The crew was able to turn Buffalo Creek Park into a mock graveyard, and the final scenes involved a camera jib and professional drone, as well as handmade tombstones.
For Rose, “Ghost of Cumberland Gap” is the latest in a series of successful productions. “Underfoot Films and Entertainment has been producing radio and TV commercials since 2007, and doing feature films and short films since 2011,” Rose said. “Our last film, ‘Break-In on Bell Street,’ premiered last year at Knoxville’s CreepyCon and received a standing ovation.”
According to Rose, the story of the “Ghost of Cumberland Gap” is deeper than a typical ghost story.
“It’s about a lonely young girl who loses everything and moves to the middle of nowhere, with only servants and her gruff aunt for company,” Rose said. “She’s told over and over that no one her age is near. But she meets a shy little girl, a little girl that never leaves footprints. Is it all in her head? Is she going mad? You’ll have to watch to find out.”
Rose was thrilled with the final day of shooting in Unicoi County at the Bogart-Bowman Cabin. “We had several specially invited extras, including Chad Bogart, whose seventh great-grandfather actually built the cabin,” Rose said. “The extras dressed in period costumes and played people in the town coming to a funeral. We made Buffalo Creek Park into a graveyard, complete with concrete tombstones handcrafted and etched by our master of props, James Trivette. Director of Cinematography Doug Bischoff used a drone camera to get shots of the entire park, as if ghosts were watching. It was a hot weekend but everyone in the cast and crew poured their hearts into their work and were fantastic. After a few months of post-production editing, we plan to have an official film premiere tour throughout the Tri-Cities, then we have some film festivals to attend across the country. After that, the film will be available for rent on Amazon Prime Video. We also plan to have a limited DVD release.”
Underfoot Films is dedicated to celebrating the culture and beauty of the Tri-Cities area, with films, music, webseries, public relations, and more. Learn more at underfootfilms.com.