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Serial killer movie being filmed in Tamaqua

A West Coast film producer was introduced to Tamaqua last year and liked what he saw.

Jeff Miller was so impressed by the area, its history and scenery that he decided it would be the location for his next movie.

“People are so friendly and accommodating. It’s great,” said Miller, whose independent film company, Millman Productions, specializes in horror and action genres and began shooting in Tamaqua last week.

Since then, the cast and crew - many from the Los Angeles area - have been to Tamaqua’s police station and borough hall, train station and the Side Track Tap Room.

At each location, they’ve been filming scenes for “12 to Midnight,” which will be coproduced by Miller and Robert Savakinus, of Cannon Fire Productions, Scranton.

It tells the story of a detective who is despondent over the recent death of his wife. He is brought back to the police force to track down the serial killer who may be responsible for her death as well as a new slate of recent killings.

“He realizes the perpetrator may be superhuman; a werewolf,” Miller revealed.

In the starring role is Robert Bronzi, a Hungarian actor who bears a resemblance to the late actor Charles Bronson.

Miller explained that Savakinus is a fan of Bronzi’s work - and that’s part of the reason the upcoming movie landed in the area.

“I was shooting a movie in Oneonta, New York, last year and (Savakinus) invited me to come down for one of my days off,” Miller said.

While in the area, Miller - who’s produced close to 40 movies - saw coal mines, railroads and other sites.

“I thought, ‘This looks pretty cool,’” he explained.

Fittingly, the script for “12 to Midnight” included similar locations.

“I just revamped the script based on the locations we saw and here we are,” said Miller, who took a break Monday afternoon at the Tamaqua Train Station

Filming began in California.

“We spent the first 5 days in the Los Angeles area” where scenes were shot with Lehigh Valley actor Daniel Roebuck, of Rob Zombie’s “The Munsters” and the television series “Lost,” and Tito Ortiz, who’s known for his stints with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). “But we are filming the bulk of the film in the Tamaqua area.”

Co-producer Savakinus, of Cannon Fire Productions, rattled off other locations for filming including Odd Fellows Cemetery in Tamaqua; Centralia; No. 9 Coal Mine in Lansford; WK & S Railroad in Kempton; Pioneer Coal Mine in Ashland and a private residence.

“They are such unique locations with all the right attributes,” he said.

Savakinus expected filming to last another week. The movie, like most of Millman Productions, will eventually have be available for purchase and viewable on online streaming services.

“(Millman Production) movies get a national release and that is the opportunity to showcase a small town like Tamaqua,” he said. “You film a movie like this and let the rest of the world see it, whether it is streaming, DVD or whatever, people will look at it and say, ‘No. 9 Mine?’ Where is that?’”

The curiosity for sites they see in the movie could bring folks - and tourism dollars - to the area.

Savakinus said he is pleased that the movie is underway.

“I keep saying over and over, ‘This is happening,’” he noted. “We talked about this for 13 months and it’s happening. And guess what, it’s going to be done and next year you’re going to see this movie out there.”

“We can make movies in northeast PA. We have great things here,” Savakinus added.

He brought a contingent from Pennsylvania to help with the filming, including Dave Castelli, Scranton.

Castelli owns the Circle Drive-In, Dickson City, one of the nation’s oldest operating drive-in movie theaters.

The drive-in, he said, recently began playing films from independent producers.

He recently aired Millman Production’s “Space Wars” and plans to show “12 to Midnight” once it’s released.

“There is a unique community of talent right here in our area,” he said.

Savakinus has completed documentaries on Hurricane Agnes floods in 1972; the former Rocky Glen Amusement Park near Moosic, and the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton. He noted that the Anthracite Cultural Board has lent its support to the local venture.

No public funds will be used for “12 to Midnight.”

According to the website IMDb, other Millman Productions movies include “Death Kiss,” “Space Wars: Quest for the Deepstar,” “Hellfire II,” “The Toybox,” “Ouija House,” “Escape from Death Block 13,” “The Gardener,” “Once Upon a Time in Deadwood” and “The Russian Bride.”

Last week, the Tamaqua-based film studio, Outhouse Production Films, announced it would begin filming a movie in Tamaqua in mid-July.

Filming for “12 to Midnight” is happening around the Tamaqua area, including a shoot Monday afternoon at the Tamaqua Train Station. Shown from left, are Tom Purnell, executive producer, co-writer and actor; Robert Bronzi, who has the lead role; Jeff Miller, Millman Productions, Los Angeles, co-producer; Melanie Ross, proprietor of the train station restaurant, and Robert “Bob” Savakinus, Cannon Fire Productions, Scranton, co-producer. At back is Mark Savage, director and co-writer. JILL WHALEN/TIMES NEWS