Friday, 6 August 2004

St. Joseph College: An inside look behind the scenes

STACEY S. MANNING The Kentucky Standard

From inside the classroom and community celebrations, to explosions, fires and battles, the St. Joseph College docudrama will bring to life the story of the people who are a part of St. Joseph College and Spalding Hall.

The docudrama features more than 100 actors and actresses recruited from Kentucky and surrounding states. Its crew consists of locals and professionals, including at least two crew members that have experience on movie sets.

Morgan Raque, a historical re-enactor who specializes in early Americana, has joined the project as a battle coordinator and historian, but he does much more than that.

In an effort to add some professional experience to the production, Raque is giving his skills to make the piece as realistic as possible.

Raque does a little bit of everything -- from makeup and pyrotechnics to organizing major battle scenes.

In one scene, a slave child attempts to light a fireplace when two other boys play a trick on him. The boys filled a fireplace with black powder. When it was lit, it exploded hurling the boy -- uninjured -- backward.

To pull it off, Raque created the explosion and extras added baby powder to the air to make it look like smoke. Film angles and creative editing will put the scene together to look as though the actor was hurled backward from the explosion. In actuality, Raque merely grabbed the boy by the pants and pulled him through the air.

"It's a little movie magic," Raque said.

One actor has been hurt in production. During the final shooting of a scene in which a teacher was threatened, an actor cut his hand severely on a knife and had to get stitches. He has since returned to finish filming.

Two of the main scenes have yet to be filmed. On Sept. 4 and 5, the crew will work with historical re-enactors to recreate a Civil War battle and the Goliad Massacre.

Two men, who were students at St. Joseph College, were wounded at the Battle of Perryville. That scene will be re-enacted by 20 horsemen and 20-60 infantrymen. It will likely be shot on location in Bloomfield. The scene will include hand-to-hand combat, pyrotechnics, cannons and wounded soldiers.

The Goliad Massacre scene is be about two local brothers who went to Texas to fight in the War of Independence. One of the brothers was captured and massacred. The other escaped and made his way home where he went to college and later became a Texas Ranger.

Those scenes will also be filmed with the historical re-enactors.

"There are a lot of stories in Kentucky," Raque said, "and this is an avenue to get some of these stories told. It's showing regional stories with regional talent and regional people. They say it can't be done (with a small budget), but it can be done.

"Given the right equipment, a little budget and some help, you can turn out some good epic stories, but if you don't have it in your head, eyes and heart, it doesn't transpire."