Homegrown talent key for St. Marys-based film production company

The cast and crew with Akoolfilm Company began shooting scenes for their first film, The Sanctuary, in St. Marys this week.

Cast and crew with the St. Marys-based Akoolfilm Company were busy this week shooting scenes for the company's first feature-length film, The Sanctuary. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network jpg, SF

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When husband and wife Allen and Robin Kool began looking for a place to establish their own film production company, the Town of St. Marys quickly jumped to the top of their list.

Suggested to them by their business partner, David O’Keefe, who knew the town had plenty of local on- and off-camera talent and a natural historical esthetic to back it up, St. Marys was the perfect staging ground for what became the Akoolfilm Company.

“My wife and I always thought it would be nice to retire here, so when we were deciding where to move ourselves and the company, we kept looking around and we looked at places in Stratford, at places in St. Marys, and that kind of thing, and we liked St. Marys,” Allen Kool said.

“… And when we first started coming here, the community was so wonderful. You walk down the street and people say ‘hi.’ You don’t even know these people and they’re saying hello to you.”

And that kindness quickly grew into full-on support from the community as the Kools – who have worked in the film industry for years – began feeling around for locals to help them set up shop, secure locations for filming, and even join the production team.

As part of their company’s business model, the Kools and O’Keefe have committed to not only hiring well-seasoned veterans of the film industry such as themselves, but also to giving young actors, behind-the-scenes technicians and producers an opportunity to learn from some of the best while getting the experience they need to push their careers forward.

“The most important thing is this is not about me. All I want is an opportunity to have fun, work with the community, and give other people opportunities,” Allen Kool said.

This week, the cast and production crew could be seen throughout town filming scenes for the company’s first feature film, The Sanctuary.

“It’s the Coen Brothers meets The Twilight Zone shot in Hitchcock style,” Allen Kool said.

“It’s a thriller. What my wife – she’s the screenplay writer – what we do is we write films that don’t have any blood and gore, people enjoy, and it’s more actor-based than special effects. The special effects we have in this film are all prosthetics and special makeup, stuff you can do with a smaller budget except that it’s the same people that do this stuff for big budget films.”

While The Sanctuary is Akoolfilm’s first project to hit the production stage, Allen Kool said his wife has written several more, including another thriller that will include some pyrotechnical special effects, a science fiction, a drama, and a historical film about someone from St. Marys.

For more information on upcoming productions, visit www.akoolfilm.com or check out Akoolfilm Company inc. on Facebook.