The budget for “The Chop” was tiny.
How tiny? Let’s put it this way: It probably wasn’t close to the petty cash account of the personal assistant to the personal assistant of Johnny Depp on the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. The final cost for the independent, made-in-the-region action film about the owners of an automotive “chop shop” looking to keep their business afloat was “below $50,000,” according to Tredd Barton, a West Finley resident and the movie’s executive producer.
Shot last year at various spots in the region, including the parking lot outside Consol Energy Park in North Franklin Township, “The Chop” is premiering today at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont at 8:30 p.m., the same day it bows on Vimeo, the video-on-demand site. Plans are also in the works to bring “The Chop” to other streaming sites.
Directed, written and produced by Jack Davis, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate who has worked alongside James Franco and Julianne Moore, “The Chop” also is the latest foray into independent filmmaking by Barton, the 50-year-old proprietor of Tredd Productions, a constable and the owner of Washington County Machine Guns and Tactical Range in West Alexander.
After having previously handled production duties on “Truce,” a 20-minute short about a Vietnam veteran returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder, “The Chop” is the first time he took on that role for a feature-length film.
What stuck with him about the experience?
“Just the magnitude,” Barton said. “The Chop” was filmed at about 20 different locations around the region, he pointed out, and doing something as straightforward as shutting down a street demanded multiple phone calls and the pulling of multiple strings.
Barton was also the weapons master for the movie, showing the actors how to convincingly handle guns. “You can imagine the actors don’t have a lot of gun experience,” he explained. “A lot of them have never touched a real gun before.”
Another co-production from Barton’s Tredd Productions and Friendly Zombie Productions is in the works – “Night Zero,” a science fiction horror movie. In fact, at the same time “The Chop” is making its debut, High Street in Waynesburg will be closed to shoot a scene for “Night Zero.” A December release is tentatively planned, with a theatrical showing in Pittsburgh and, possibly, Waynesburg, being considered.
While Barton has only a brief, walk-on role in “The Chop,” he likes seeing his handiwork on screen.
“Behind the camera, I’m like a little kid,” he said. “It’s so satisfying. I love seeing my imprint on a film.”
“The Chop” also will be shown at 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hollywood Theater. For information go online to www.facebook.com/friendlyzombieproductions.