December 9, 2013

Stars Shine at Doonby Premiere

by Angela Castillo

Normally, the side room in Bastrop’s Lost Pines theater is used for pool tables, but on Saturday night, these tables were covered and loaded with delicious hors d'oeuvres, sparkling glasses of wine, and chocolate fountains. A Hollywood-style red carpet with a backdrop graced the side wall, where flashes of light announced the creation of new photos. The room was filled with family, friends, actors and crew members all there to congratulate Bastrop director Peter Mackenzie on the release of his new movie, “Doonby.”

Peter Mackenzie

Brandi Blevins, a New Branfels actress who plays the character of “Jolene,” brought her six-month-old baby to the party. She played a key part in selling out the New Branfels showing of the film. “We still had people asking for tickets, even after we were sold out.”

Brandi Blevins
Joleen Smith, owner of 365 Bastrop, and
Brandi Blevins, who plays "Jolene" in the movie
Cassandra Small, an actress with a long resume that includes theater and singing as well as her work in films such as “Miss Congeniality” and the upcoming “Bigfoot Wars,” said she was thrilled to be a part of the movie. “Allen Ray called me said he had a friend who was putting together a cast for a film and that they had a part he thought was just right for me... the rest is history.”

Cassandra L. Small

Actress Jolyn Janis, who played “Lisa” in the movie, had great memories about filming in Smithville. “The magic is in the community. It’s this really big, tiny place and I can’t stop going there.” Janis just finished filming a short film, “Red Winds,” with fellow “Doonby” cast member Liz Waters, which she hopes to premier next year at the Smithville Playhouse.

Jolyn Janis
Liz Waters and Jolyn Janis

Other cast members in attendance included Liz Waters who played “Jessica Gordon,” David Molina, the bus driver who brings the main character, “Sam Doonby” (played by John Schneider) to town, and Debra who played a Smithville cop, which was not much of a stretch for her, since she used to be a police officer in real life.

Liz Waters

Troy Streuer, owner of Pocket's Grille in Smithville, was also in attendance. He played a gas station attendant in the movie. “As a person who lives in this town, we love the financial impact of these movies. I’m 100 percent in favor of them.”

Smithville Chamber of Commerce President Tina Smith says Smithville has become an iconic town when it comes to movies. “I still have people coming into the office asking about ‘Hope Floats,’” she chuckles, referring to a movie starring Sandra Bullock and shot in Smithville in 1998. When asked why so many directors choose Smithville to shoot in, “They want to come in, they want to do their job without a lot of hoopla... and we let them do that. We try to be helpful as possible and I think that’s what they like about our community.”

When Bastrop resident and volunteer Karen Carter was asked how she felt about all the movies being filmed in the Bastrop area, she was enthusiastic. “I love it because although we love the quaint, we also love the exciting.”

After the red carpet reception, guests filed into the theater and settled into their seats. As John Schnieder’s bus pulled into Smithville, the crowd of mostly Bastrop and Smithville residents clapped and cheered. The excitement continued throughout the movie and ended with an eruption of applause when the credits rolled.

Cast and crew at the "Doonby" premiere in Bastrop, TX

Adena Lewis, who ran the question and answer panel after the film, mentioned a close call they had on the set. “They failed to mention (they were exploding a truck) downtown.” she said. Apparently, the explosion was much greater than any of the crew expected. “They almost blew up Smithville!”

Charlie Parrish, Smithville resident and Stunt Coordinator for the movie laughed and added, “Peter (Mackenzie) said ‘I want to blow up a truck on a Main Street.’ So we blew up a truck on Main Street.”

Thankfully, Smithville is still in one piece and ready for more movies to come to town.

Doonby” will be playing at Shulman Theatres Lost Pines 8 until December 12th. It is also available on iTunes and Amazon.

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