Hollywood is back in Buffalo.
The independent movie “Trew Calling” just wrapped up nearly a month of shooting in the Buffalo area with the locally based production crew NDStudios.
Director Greg Robbins, who is from Hollywood but now calls Amherst home, directs “Trew Calling” from a screenplay he wrote under the pseudonym Catherine Naomi Wilson, his grandmother’s name. Robbins said he moved to Amherst after coming to Buffalo to work on children’s shows, fell in love with the city and never left.
“All four of us – my two children and my wife – all talked and decided this was our home now,” Robbins said. “There’s no reason for me to go back.”
Another local connection is Orchard Park native Tracey B. Wilson, who is playing Trew, a woman who doesn’t really have her life together.
“I say she’s a woman who has potential. She just hasn’t figured it out,” Wilson said on the set in North Buffalo earlier this week. “She’s a little bit afraid of deep emotion. You find out later in the story some emotional things happened when she was younger and she’s just kind of afraid to really be in touch with her emotions.”
The range of emotion in Trew really attracted Wilson to the character.
“As an actor, it’s exciting to get to play all of those colors because I do get to be hilarious and dramatic,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of physical comedy in it. There’s some very deep emotional scenes. So as an actor, it’s really a gift to get to play a role where you get to show so many sides of yourself.”
Prior to moving to New York City, Wilson acted in productions at local theaters such as the Irish Classical and the Kavinoky, but she says Buffalonians would remember her for something a little bit different.
“A lot of people from Buffalo know me from working at the Buffalo Bisons,” Wilson said. “I played a character called ‘Loudmouth,’ and I was a mascot.”
Wilson is supportive of the Buffalo film community and said she tries to return every year for the “48 Hour Film Project,” which challenges locals to make the best film they can in just 48 hours.
“I’m really trying to help grow the film community in Buffalo,” Wilson said. “I like to be a part of things that are happening here. I like to be a part of knowing who’s doing what here and learning the actors and filmmakers that are coming up.”
Joining Wilson in the cast is actor Kevin Sizemore, known for roles in the ABC series “Resurrection” and CBS’s “Under the Dome.” He plays the Almighty, who speaks to Trew to help her fulfill her potential. Although the film seems dramatic at first, the comedy of it attracted Sizemore.
“It’s a dramedy,” said Sizemore. “I knew I had the opportunity to play comedy and lighten things up a bit because the last six films that I have coming into theaters soon are all drama or heavy action and this was a chance for me to lighten it up a little bit and work with Greg (Robbins) and Kimber (Eastwood).”
Although the film seems to have a twist of faith in it, Robbins stresses that’s not the case.
“It does not have a touch of faith at all and it is not a faith-based film at all,” he said. “I want to inspire people to love each other, but I don’t want to do that with education or faith or scriptures or Hinduism or Buddhism or any of that kind of stuff. In this country, we get so caught up in this B.S. that it prevents us from doing what I think we should do and that is just love each other.”
Though Wilson and Robbins have local ties, for others it was their first time in Buffalo. Associate Producer Kimber Eastwood accepted Robbins’ invitation to work on “Trew Calling” after working on another project with him in Los Angeles. She’s made the most of her time in Buffalo.
“We’ve hit Anchor Bar, Canalside and we met some of the Buffalo Bills when we went to the Buffalo Bills training camp,” Eastwood said.
Though “Trew Calling” is an independent film, Eastwood has some major Hollywood ties: her father is Clint Eastwood.
“I just love the way he tells stories and makes movies,” she said. “I think that’s had a big impact on me. I hope to be at least a quarter of what my dad has become as a filmmaker. He’s just a legend in his own time.”
“Trew Calling” is set to be in theaters summer 2016.