‘The Hunting’ manager says former Browns backer Peyton Hill is asset to Northeast Ohio production – News-Herald

When creating the horror film “The Hunting,” Brecksville-based Garage Creative Studios had hoped to hire people from northeastern Ohio to compose the cast and crew.

Other than that, the company — run by Hudson resident Mark A. Hamer — wanted people with Northeast Ohio ties.

When looking for their main character – a detective working to solve a macabre and mysterious case involving a death – the Garage Creative team wanted a physically imposing man who commands attention. Their thoughts turned to retired professional soccer players.

One of Hamer’s acquaintances knew Peyton Hillis.

Peyton Hillis portrays a detective investigating a gruesome death in the horror film “The Hunting” produced in northeast Ohio. (Courtesy of Garage Creative Studios)

You probably remember Hillis, a Browns halfback in the body of a fullback who, after being traded from the Denver Broncos, enjoyed a 1,000-yard rushing season for Cleveland.

He was such a fan favorite that in 2011 he won a ballot campaign to grace the cover of “Madden NFL 12”, the latest installment in Electronic Arts’ hugely popular video game franchise.

Hillis ticked a lot of boxes for Hamer and Co.

“He ended up being a great guy, and we’re really lucky to have him as part of this movie,” Hamer said.

Hudson resident Mark A. Hamer of Garage Creative Studios directed and co-wrote “The Hunting.” (Courtesy of Garage Creative Studios)

Available now on video-on-demand platforms, “The Hunting” represents where Garage Creative is these days, evolving over roughly a decade from a business that initially specialized in short-form commercials.

“It was back when everyone was doing 30-second commercials for everything,” Hamer says.

The company, which has also made corporate documentaries, can offer a range of services from editing to visual effects and sound production. However, says Hamer, they follow a commercial trend towards narrative fiction.

“We still do commercial work, but we started making this change because A) it’s where the market was and B) (it’s) something we really like to do.”

Directed and co-written by Hamer, who shares writing credit with northeast Ohio resident Heather Ryan, “The Hunting” is based on a story by her husband, Terry Ryan. A non-combat veteran of the Marines, he was inspired to create a tale about an animal attack leaving a mutilated body in a forest after other Marines he knew spoke of the “beast” they had brought home. them after combat tours.

A horror film involving werewolves, “The Hunting” is also about Marines who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in combat. (Courtesy of Garage Creative Studios)

“The werewolf is basically a metaphor for PTSD,” says Hamer. “It’s more of a grounded film. It is not something exaggerated. »

The crew of “The Hunting” is working on a scene set at night in a forest. (Courtesy of Garage Creative Studios)

Due to novel coronavirus travel logistics, production had to briefly venture to Michigan to shoot scenes involving wolves they hoped had transported to them. However, the rest of the small-town story was filmed in northeastern Ohio, primarily in Mantua, a Portage County township about 15 miles southeast of Bainbridge Township.

Most of “The Hunting” was filmed in Mantua, a village in Portage County. (Courtesy of Garage Creative Studios)

“I was driving through the village of Mantua, stopped at Restoration (44 Coffee Co.) on Main Street and walked in and talked to people,” Hamer says. “They were very welcoming and the town had a cool look – exactly what we were looking for for the film.”

In “The Hunting”, Joelle Westwood – who grew up in Solon but now lives in New York – portrays Maggie, a wildlife specialist who runs a wolf sanctuary. She is brought in by a detective to help with an investigation that deals with what appears to be a wild animal attack. (Courtesy of Garage Creative Studios)

After working with Hillis in northeast Ohio, Arkansas, where he resides, and remotely, the former athlete arrived in northeast Ohio in late 2020 for what is turned out to be a shoot of about three weeks.

“He was amazing to work with because he brought such a level of intensity to everything,” Hamer said. “And he’s such, like a loud person – I don’t know if a lot of people know that. He kind of owns the room when he walks in.

Hillis brought his dog with him for the shoot, which was a big hit, Hamer says, and he once served as chef du jour. The big man thought the unusually pleasant day was too good for the usual food the shoot brought for lunch.

“He was like, ‘Hang on,'” Hamer says. “And it was a day where he didn’t have scenes but he was still on set. And so he goes out in the car and gets a grill and some charcoal and burgers and hot dogs and brings everything back and just start cooking right in the middle of… the parking lot for this place was left to the one that used to be the home base.

“The Hunting” can be rented through various platforms, including Amazon, Apple, Google Play and Vudu.

“It was important for us to launch this, to do this and to distribute it to all the people here,” Hamer said. “It’s something we’re really proud of.”

To learn more about Garage Creative Studios, visit GarageCreativeStudios.com.

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