Downtown Temecula was all abuzz as City Hall was overtaken by a cast of stars and a crew of 100 who have been filming an action comedy “Garlic & Gunpowder” in Temecula for the last few weeks. Some of the crew was in town for 33 days; some of the cast up to 22 days.
The group took over Mayor Maryanne Edwards’ office as actress, producer and TV host Vivica A. Fox (“Days of Our Lives,” “Generations,” “The Young and the Restless,” “Independence Day,” “Empire”) came in to play her part as Mayor Brown Jan. 30. Edwards’ office was reworked for sound and lighting for the 3-1/2-minute scene.
The movie is directed by B. Harrison Smith, written by producer Steven Chase and Zachary Sasim and produced by Chase, along with Rick Finkelstein, co-owners of the Entertainment Factory Group LLC. The company has two other films in pre-production and 10 more waiting.
“Brad Bruce of Red 11 Pictures invited us here to film in his studios,” Harrison said. “They are phenomenal. We have everything here the movie requires.”
Bruce, a Murrieta Valley High School graduate has been writing, directing and consulting on films since 2004.
“At first we had some resistance from some of the cast and crew who had never been out here,” said Finkelstein, “I thought we were going out to the boonies. But when we got here, man, this place is fantastic! The studio was great. The people – store owners, citizens, public officials – are wonderful in how they treat us, how they welcome us.”
One neighbor even baked cookies for the cast and crew Finkelstein said.
Harrison called Temecula a “great discovery with a real diversity of potential shooting scenes.
“The word will definitely be getting out about this area,” Harrison said.
According to Finkelstein, there were 18 actual days of shooting.
“We filmed at Filippi’s, the Duck Pond, Maurice Car’rie winery, Spindles Music Shack, City Hall and Brad’s house,” said Finkelstein. “Bonnie (Lowell of Film Temecula) made much of this possible.”
Lowell said they received the application from Garlic & Gunpowder’s production crew with short notice, but in true Temecula fashion, everyone pulled together to make the production happen.
“But everyone was so cooperative, including City Hall and the Mayor who let us take over her office for a day,” Lowell said.
Film Temecula provides full-service coordination for films, including lodging, catering, locations, permitting, police/emergency services, etc.
The action comedy film centers on two Mafia wise guys played by Steven Chase and James Duval who work for “Ma” a 300-lb Mob Boss played by Felissa Rose and all the people they meet along the way.
The cast also includes Michael Madsen, Clint Jung, Dean McDermott, Martin Kove, Angelo Pagan, Lainie Kazan, Chris Coppola and others.
In addition to Fox, two other daytime soap stars are also featured. Kathryn Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan on “The Bold and the Beautiful”) plays Mrs. Smith. Lindsay Hartley (“Passions, “All My Children” and “Days of Our Lives”) plays the role of Rachel.
“This movie has a little of everything,” said Finkelstein, “action, the mob, romance, gunfire, a car chase and lots of ‘laugh out loud’ scenes.”
He said the movie, which is expected to be released later this year, has a distribution deal for 250 AMC theatres and expect it to go to 1,000.
“This film should win awards. There is a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera. It is a great story, a sound investment and a wonderful experience,” Finkelstein said.
The Entertainment Factory Group’s next projects include a romantic comedy and a horror film.
“We will definitely be coming back here,” said Finkelstein.