by Janet I. Martineau
A former Saginaw Art Museum executive director makes her debut this weekend as a lead actress in a movie.
Sheila Redman Hoffman portrays the daughter of a mob boss who is kidnapped on her way home from work in the independent crime/fantasy film “Echo.” Shot primarily in the Corning/Elmira region of New York State, “Echo” debuts Sunday, Feb. 27, at the historic Palace Theater in Corning.
|Sheila Redman Hoffman in "Echo"|
“Without giving away the plot too much, most of my scenes were filmed with just me and my kidnapper in a creepy basement,” says Hoffman. “So I interacted with the rest of the 25-member cast relatively little, which felt a bit odd when we all came together towards the end of principal photography to play off each other in scenes that would bookend the film.”
As the plot progresses, she says, her character’s boyfriend and her brother recruit a friend to help find her -- a friend who frightens them with his unusual abilities and the fact he keeps seeing a figure in reflective surfaces who is attempting to talk to him. The three men, the kidnapper and Hoffman are the main characters with the most screen time, she says.
Also playing a role the movie is Bryce Hoffman, Sheila’s husband who was a reporter for The Saginaw News.
“He plays a cranky cop, investigator, really…with a really bad mustache,” she says. “We also lent our cars -- a Prius (my character’s car) and a Chrysler 300 (a mobster car) -- to the movie. And the kitchen in our last house (someone gets beheaded there!) appears in the movie too.”
Hoffman was executive director/chief curator at the Saginaw Art Musuem, 1126 N. Michigan, from 2000-2004, overseeing its renovation and the addition of two wings. While in the area she used her ballet training to appear in the Midland Music Society production of “A Chorus Line” and also was in a Pit and Balcony Community Theatre's production of "Bye Bye Birdie," so she is no stranger to acting.
After leaving Saginaw, Hoffman became the curator of collections at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, a job she left late last year when Bryce was hired as the executive director of communications and marketing for State University of New York/Plattsburgh.
The couple now lives north of Plattsburgh, near the Canadian border and about 45 minutes south of Montreal. Hoffman says she plans to begin work on a doctorate next fall, in Montreal.
She and Bryce became friends of “Echo” director Todd Douglas Bailey when they were living in Corning and attended a premiere of one of his other films. They were so impressed, she says, that they offered to get involved in his next movie ...”thinking to help produce it in some way. Instead, I was invited to read for one of the parts and was rather surprisingly cast as the mouthy daughter of the mob boss.”
Says Bailey, “Sheila did an amazing performance. It's very tough to get the emotional side of being kidnapped when it has never happened to you. She had to draw those emotions from somewhere else and she absolutely nailed it. She portrays fear in her eyes like no one I have ever worked with.
“What lead us to casting her was based on her read during the casting call. We felt like she was the best person to breath life into Katie but have that perfect balance of being in charge and being able to get beat down mentally from her kidnappers.”
Filming on the 93-minute “Echo” began on March 7, 2010, and ended in August with a few pick up scenes added in September. After its debut Sunday in Corning, Bailey will seek to enter “Echo” in as many film festivals as possible in hopes a distributor will option it.
Bailey also is the producer, executive producer, cinematographer, editor and colorist of “Echo” and makes a small cameo appearance as a limo driver. He wrote its screenplay based on a story by Rob Hesch. By day Bailey works as a creative services/commercials producer at WENY, Channel 36, in Corning.
The cast of “Echo” was paid a small salary, he says, but the crew of four was not unless the film lands a distribution deal.
Bailey’s two other films have won awards at the Pocono Mountains Film Festival -- the documentary “Bigfoot Lives” in 2007 as best documentary and the fictional “Moretti House” in 2008 for best producer. He also received best director nominations for both.
“For ‘Bigfoot” I was paid to follow Tom Biscardi and his Bigfoot team around the country for three weeks in the summer of 2006 as they investigated various sightings across the country,” says Bailey, whose filmmaking company is called Tizodd Productions. “I was the director, editor, cinematographer and producer on that film.
“The ‘Moretti House’ is completely fiction. I wrote it based on an old mansion in Elmira, N.Y. It follows three filmmakers who get trapped inside a haunted house while making a documentary on the history of the mansion.”
Bailey, a native of Philadelphia, started making home movies as a kid and founded Tizodd while still in college. It makes short films and feature-length films and also films weddings, music videos, commercials and documentaries.
To see interviews with Hoffman, Bailey and others in "Echo" log on to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7lZOWmGETw&feature=related.