An eerie green glow outlines three silhouettes standing on the dock at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub, on Longboat Key. When the moonlight hits their hauntingly delicate faces, they’re smirking — wickedly. It makes you wonder not if, but how quickly they’re going to come after you.
Ashley Holland, Dominique Golder and Haley Faye are three local actresses starring in Greg Rivera’s newest film, “The Witching Hours.” Set in a fictional, sleepy, seaside village called Harbour Town, the independent film provides a modern take on wands and spell-casting through the lives of people who are descendants of ancient witches and wizards. It is based on Rivera’s 28-minute 2002 film, “The Uninvited,” which was shown at film festivals in Sarasota, Tampa and New York City. He decided to make it into a feature-length film and also give it a new title.
“The premise is there are three different storylines of people who have supernatural abilities and how they either thrive through them or are burdened by them,” Rivera said. “Everyone has seen zombies and vampires. I just wanted to do something different and was inspired by strong female characters. The film is toying with the idea of, ‘Are they witches, or are they not?’”
Holland, who with her pitch-black hair seems perfectly cast as a witch, has lived in Sarasota for the past 15 years. She’s dined outside at Mar Vista with her family dozens of times, taking in the view and the peaceful surroundings. But filming on the dock at dark — when things sometimes go bump in the night — feels a bit surreal.
“If you stick close to the water, Sarasota is creepy,” Rivera said. “When we shot out on Mar Vista, we were all a bit edgy. A fish jumps in the water, and it’s time to leave. The locations are here, they really are. It’s just a matter of supporting with sound and design.”
In the movie, the characters draw their powers and channel energy from the elements, and they are all able to read minds. But it’s a game between the girls in terms of who has what power. Holland, 21, plays Amanda, the leader of a meddlesome group of girls that adopts Dominique, 10, who plays Kerra.
“We all kind of sense things about each other,” Holland says. “We’re not psychics, but we can sense each other’s emotions. Our powers are all a little unknown to us so far, and we’re not sure whom to trust. We’re just discovering who’s bad and who’s good.”
The first time Dominique was cast in a film was for a college production called “Nocturne Eternal,” in which she played an astronaut’s daughter. She found out about “The Witching Hours” through her musical group, Spotlight Kids.
“I play Kerra,” she says. “She is kind of like a new apprentice who almost has no clue what she’s doing, and that’s why she’s with Amanda’s group. At first, she seems timid and is usually quiet because she doesn’t have her powers figured out yet. My favorite part is that I get to be an outsider — no one knows exactly where I come from. I’m a mystery in the group.”
Playing an ill-tempered child with a vocabulary from the 1700s who explodes with anger and taunts those who use their powers incorrectly, Haley — who plays a character with the same name — has one of the more explosive parts in the film.
“Everyone is scared of me,” she laughs. “I start yelling and threatening, and then I disappear and reappear out of nowhere in a really weird moment, and everyone gets all freaked out. As the script keeps on getting written, I always get excited because the character seems to be building and building.”
Besides freaking people out when they’re least expecting it, Haley, 11, loves the costumes. In her baby-pink dress with its crisp white color and patent leather Mary Janes, Haley doesn’t look like the type to don an old-fashioned metal hoop skirt and ragged, tattered dress.
“Haley’s costume is so vintage that she looks like this 1,000-year-old spirit in this little person’s body,” Holland says. “We have a pretty fierce run-in because I interfere in something she felt I had no business in, and I have to go and face the music. It’s a little traumatizing to get yelled at by a little kid.”
“The Witching Hours” is a project on Kickstarter — a fundraising platform for artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, performers and others to bring their projects and dreams to life through crowd-raising.
From the pitch to bloopers, everything about the film can be viewed on Kickstarter. But the film will only become a reality if at least $12,500 is pledged by midnight Thursday, July 21. With 33 days to go, $2,010 has already been pledged from the film’s 31 backers.
For information, visit www.kickstarter.com and search for “The Witching Hours.”
Contact Loren Mayo at [email protected].