A frightful tale finds apt backdrop - in Glouco

Actress Caroline Elizabeth shoots a scene with a camera attached to the front of a van. The recent snowfall was written into the script so filming could continue uninterrupted.
Actress Caroline Elizabeth shoots a scene with a camera attached to the front of a van. The recent snowfall was written into the script so filming could continue uninterrupted. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 27, 2014

I'm on the set of a movie called A Place in Hell. And it's frozen over.

"We had 12 inches of snow the first day of shooting," director David Boorboor says.

The Voorhees resident, 40, is also the writer and one of the producers of this indie movie, which tells the creepy tale of a serial killer, a student film crew, and a dogged - make that obsessive - detective.

The weather? Not to worry. It's already been written into the script. And the snow should improve the visuals of a cornfield-maze scene "that will be my little homage to The Shining," says Boorboor, a compact, bearded dude with enthusiasm to burn.

A Gloucester County "fright farm" called Night of Terror is where the cameras got rolling (actually, they're digital) as the blizzard rolled in Tuesday. Other scenes are to be shot on the Rowan University campus in Glassboro and in Bensalem.

At the farm, the temperature is barely in double digits as I join about 30 young cast and crew members for a convivial (and, thankfully, indoor) breakfast. Packages of hand warmers are on the tables, along with plates of ham and eggs.

"This is the biggest film I've ever done," says Boorboor, who's been making shorts, videos, and other content for a dozen years.

The principal producer is Ed Cuffe, the high-energy owner of a Bergen County firm called Epic Siding. A Place in Hell is his first feature.

Boorboor and Cuffe had their initial meeting last April at a Somerset County diner. They clicked, and the upshot is a project the SAG-AFTRA union categorizes as an "ultra low budget" (less than $200,000) independent production.

"We just roll with the punches," says Cuffe, who's wearing one of the A Place in Hell jackets - black, with red lettering - he's had made as a morale booster for the crew. "Filmmaking lives, it breathes, it changes."

Boorboor's professional reputation and his script full of juicy characters have helped attract noteworthy on-screen talent such as Noree Victoria ( Quarantine 2), Lewis Smith ( Django Unchained), and Brian Anthony Wilson ( Limitless). Several crew members also have significant film and TV credits.

The producers say they hope to screen A Place in Hell at film festivals to help it secure a theatrical distribution deal.

"We have to squeeze four pennies out of one, but we're not going to let the budget limit us in terms of the quality we deliver," says associate producer Mark L. Elson, 46, of Pine Hill.

Elson says he's been involved in making music videos and other film content for 22 years, and as with Boorboor, this is his biggest project yet. "It will look like a multimillion-dollar production," he says.

The morning's big scene focuses on the film students as they arrive at the soon-to-be very frightening farm. A camera must be mounted on a car, and a drone will be deployed for an aerial shot.

Crew members confer, actors get ready for makeup and wardrobe, and the energy rises. "This is a big opportunity for me. I'm really excited," says Temple University theater student Brooke Storms.

"My character, Holly Monroe, is essentially a bit of a diva," explains Krista Robelle, who's come down from Manhattan for the shoot and is already getting into character.

Making movies is not all glamour, mind you. After a couple of 12-plus-hour days of mostly outdoor work - during a cold snap - Philadelphia actress Caroline Elizabeth declares: "This is probably the most strenuous thing I've ever done."

As the actors prepare, Elson takes me on a tour of the fright farm in South Harrison. We pass a pirate ship on an icy lake, a haunted fortress, and other creepiness.

"It's like the back lot of a movie studio," he observes, adding: "Not only do we want to make a great film - we are all doing this for a long-term career. It's a great chance for us."


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