WEIRTON - While it wasn't the first time a camera has been brought into a patient's room on the obstetrics floor of Weirton Medical Center, it probably was the first time one was used to shoot a movie.
Usually occupied by a new mother and her infant child, the room served as the location for a scene in an upcoming film produced by Pittsburgh-based North Shore Pictures for a few hours on Friday.
Bruce Koehler, who founded the independent film company in 2006, said the film, entitled "All Saints Eve," is a psychological thriller that involves a curse invoked by a farmer killed for his land in the 1700s that affects a group of misfit friends in the present day.
Slated for release in winter or spring 2013, it's being directed by Gerry Lively, a British-born director whose work as a cinematographer or director includes "Darkness Falls," starring Sherilyn Fenn, "Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God," "Friday," starring Ice Cube; "Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest" and two sequels to "Hellraiser."
Its cast includes Marc McAulay, whose long resume includes roles in the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence hit, "Bad Boys;" "Monster," with Charlize Theron; and television's "Burn Notice," "Matlock" and "In the Heat of the Night."
The cast also includes young actors Nicole Shipley, whose credits include episodes of "Parks and Recreation," the recently released "Magic Mike" and the upcoming Sofia Coppola film, "The Bling Ring;" Mere Davis, an actress and singer on Broadway; Katrina Darrell, who has acted from an early age but is known by many for the "American Idol" audition in which she performed in a string bikini and pumps; and Matt Bonacci, a West Mifflin, Pa., native who appeared in "Psycho Street."
While crews set up camera, lighting and sound equipment in one hospital room, Shipley stood before a mirror in the small bathroom of another room as makeup was applied to make her appear to have a large dark bruise on her neck.
Asked if it was the smallest makeup room she had been in, she replied, "It is, but it's still been fun."
"It's my first big role, and I'm really excited about it," said Shipley, a Los Angeles native who said she's enjoyed boating and eating out with friends during her stay in the Pittsburgh area.
Lively said he became involved in the film when friends who worked with him in Pittsburgh on the racing film "Gearheads" recommended him to Koehler, who had sought him for his experience with horror and suspense films.
Asked how he feels about the Pittsburgh area, Lively said, "I absolutely adore it."
He said having heard it was a hub of the steel industry, he expected mostly smokestacks belching smoke.
"But I was really surprised at how wonderful and green it is, the people are so friendly," he said.
"Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and all of this area is just ripe for shooting - it opens you up to a whole different visual element - as well as for tax purposes and the good personnel available to serve us for production," he added.
Koehler said most of a film's shooting must be done in West Virginia for a company to benefit from tax breaks offered by the state, but Pennsylvania also offers incentives as well as being his hometown.
In addition to a string of action and suspense films, North Shore Pictures has produced many commercials for national markets. And it was his experience producing a commercial for Weirton Medical Center's cardio catherization lab that led him to approach WMC communications director Kevin Brown when a hospital scene was needed for the film.
"They were kind enough to help us out, and they've gone out of their way to help us," said Koehler.
Brown and Autumn Burnem of Follansbee, a nurse with the obstetrics floor, got a brief taste of movie-making when they were invited to be filmed as staff passing by the open door of the hospital room.
"I didn't think I was going to come to work and do that today," said Burnem, who added she will watch for the film's release in hopes of catching a glimpse of herself in the background of a scene.
Asked if he made a conscious effort not to look in the camera's direction, a no-no for extras, Brown said, "I just walked by and tried not to trip."