Fred Olen Ray enjoyed making a movie in Buffalo in the winter so much that he’s back to see what it’s like in the summer.
Ray’s last film, “Small Town Prince,” took over East Aurora for an extended shoot back in February.
Now he has started filming his next project, the thriller “Trial,” in the Buffalo area and is looking for “extras.”
You may never have heard of him, but Ray has produced 92 films and directed 139 dating back to the 1970s.
An independent filmmaker based in Los Angeles, he makes movies that are considered low-budget by Hollywood standards. Most of the films are obscure and some sound a bit racy with titles like “Bikini Girls From the Lost Planet” and “Super Ninja Bikini Babes.”
More recently, Ray has produced and directed more family-friendly, holiday-themed films such as “All I Want for Christmas,” which was released in 2013 and is described on his page on the Internet Movie Database as the story of “an attractive young woman (who) unexpectedly meets Santa’s helper, St. Nick, who grants her an extraordinary Christmas wish.” Its biggest star was Tom Arnold.
The prolific filmmaker with the varied and eclectic oeuvre put out an appeal for local talent Thursday at a City Hall event at which Mayor Byron W. Brown and Tim Clark, the head of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission, were standing at his side.
“He’s had quite a varied career over the years,” Clark said. “In the past few years, he’s done a number of films that have received some nice distribution, some of it on television and others theatrical releases.”
Looking back on his experience last winter, Rey said, “We made a 12th-hour decision to come Buffalo looking for snow and we found it. A lot of it. I’ve never seen so much snow in my entire life, but it worked out very well.”
It was not surprising that the region’s reputation for snowy winters captured Ray’s attention. Of course, last winter season offered a bonanza for any filmmaker seeking to capture the Christmas holiday blanketed in white.
“He came here for the snow and got a snoot full of that, plus all of the cold,” Clark said.
In addition to the picturesque winter weather, the filmmaker apparently took notice of the area’s other cinematic attributes, including its varied architectural inventory.
“So, for an independent movie, it’s a place that offers cinematic gold, because it’s so rich in production value because there are so many great locations here,” Clark added.
Ray also got “a sense of the affordability of shooting here and, of course, the crew base, which, in my opinion, is second to none,” Clark said.
Clark said he understands that the movie filmed in East Aurora will be seen on television this Christmas season. It is now in post-production.
Ray described his new film, “Trial,” as a thriller. He said he was inspired to write the story after scouting a local airport, where he began ruminating on the plot possibilities in a scenario where a woman accidentally claims the wrong baggage.
“The repercussions are terrible and it ends up at Niagara Falls and we’re all over town,” he said. “Every cool place I haven’t shot in before ends up in this movie.”
Ray said those interested in being extras should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with photos of themselves and contact information.