Minersville native directs film about 19th century coal miners
MINERSVILLE - Seeking inspiration for his senior film project, James R. Nevada, a Minersville native, looked to his roots.
He wrote and directed a short film drama about 19th century anthracite miners and filmed for the most part in Luzerne and Schuylkill counties. It's called "From The Hard Coal," and he's finishing up the editing, getting ready to present it to his instructors at the Rochester Institute of Technology's School of Film and Animation (RIT).
"If it was just for a grade, I would have made a much smaller movie. It sort of means a lot to me," Nevada said Tuesday of the 15-minute, $9,000 production.
"It's for a thesis requirement. In order to graduate, we need to make a film or work on somebody else's. So it's a school project, but we wanted the reach to be much beyond that," said Patricia Daluisio, of Medina, N.Y., an RIT senior who was one of the producers on the film.
First screening will be for students and staff at RIT in mid-May. Eventually, Nevada wants to have a public screening at one of the shooting locations - Eckley Miners Village, Weatherly.
"We're working on specific dates," Nevada said.
Born in Minersville, Nov. 27, 1992, Nevada, 21, is a son of Jim S. and Darlene Nevada. He attended St. Nicholas Elementary School until eighth grade. His family now resides in Doylestown. According to his resume, his goal is to "learn, network and find a career in the film industry." He is owner of The Teaberry Entertainment Co. He will graduate from RIT in May.
He started writing "From The Hard Coal" in 2011.
"It started out as a six-page script I wrote three years ago," Nevada said. Chris Skopowski, of Warrington, a sophomore at DeSales University, Center Valley, is credited as co-writer.
"I came up with the story and he helped out with the dialogue," Nevada said.
It takes place in the early 1870s and is a story about a father and son and "a young boy's moral stance."
"A miner named Jack and his breaker boy son Francis live and work in a small coal-mining town in the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. In the wake of a murder by the town guards, the mining families rally together to decide how to respond," according to the synopsis in the film's press kit.
Lucille Fala-Brennan, of Jim Thorpe, director and founder of The Strawberry Playhouse, Tuscarora, served as a "local producer" and helped Nevada find cast and crew.
"I was in her first play that she did at the playhouse 12 years ago. I played Sid Sawyer in 'Tom Sawyer,'" Nevada said.
The cast of "From The Hard Coal" includes Bobby Maso, of Freeland, an actor who has performed at The Strawberry Playhouse and with The Eckley Players at Eckley Miners Village. He has the lead role of Jack.
"Working on the film was a tremendous experience. In particular, I loved working on the Schuylkill County and Eckley scenes because both places are very special to me. I have a lot of history acting in each place and getting to spend so much time working there for a new film was a blast," Maso said Wednesday.
Dave Bradbury, of Mahanoy City, plays Bryant and Matt Bubel, of Pottsville, plays McNaulty, according to Nevada.
The crew filmed at Pioneer Tunnel Coal Mine & Steam Train Inc. in Ashland in September 2013, The Maid's Quarters in Pottsville in October, Eckley Miners Village in October and November 2013, and The Old White Church in Ringtown in November, according to Nevada.
Some of Nevada's ancestors were coal miners in the anthracite region.
"A great-grandfather of mine died from the black lung while working in the mines. He was Tyrolean. Another helped ship coal down to Philadelphia. He was Ukrainian. Two of my Irish great-grandfathers also worked in the mines," Nevada said.
(Watch the trailer at http://youtu.be/iAOb7-TR0Mg.)