A throwback to the 1930s, the Tally Ho Theatre became the venue for Purcellville resident Frank Sciurba to debut his modern-day version of “Dracula.”
The independent film maker shot the scenes for “The Vulture’s Eye” in Loudoun and Fauquier counties and hired a crew and cast from the Northern Virginia region. Loosely basing the plot of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Sciurba set scenes for the 100-minute film in Northern Virginia's horse country. German Count Klaus Vogle, known as the Blood Vulture, masquerades as an equestrian trainer to prey on Lucy Westenra and her friends. A southern doctor, along with love and friendship, may be able to save them from the count.
A few of the film's scenes take place in a debilitated Catlett farmhouse that turns out to be a vulture’s roost. Sciurba uses the vultures instead of Stoker’s bats and gives the film its title based on the count’s viewpoint as a lead character and on his power to turn into a vulture.
“These types of films are very well received,” said Patrick "Pat" Hoke, co-owner of the Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg along with Judy Wilson. “This is not like what people are used to, going to the multiplex. It’s more intimate. It’s a throwback to what theater used to be like.”
THE FILM relies on character development and telling a “good story,” rather than on special effects, Hoke continued. “It’s a thrill to bring something like this instead of one of those Hollywood things you see.”
Sciurba, a New Jersey native and a Virginia resident for the past 17 years, wanted to work in film making since he was 5 years old, when he saw “Peter Pan” and later “Frankenstein.” “I was frightened for years after that,” he said about seeing Mary Shelley’s horror story.
Sciurba taught himself how to write a screenplay by watching movies and analyzing how they were made and less so by taking film courses, he said. He wrote a screenplay in the 1970s and a second one in the 1980s, neither of which were premiered.
Two years ago, Sciurba began work on “The Vulture’s Eye” with his son, Christopher Sciurba, who is 28 and lives in Sterling. Christopher Sciurba helped write the story for the screenplay, produce the film and wrote the music and original soundtrack.
“Everybody is pitching in to do what they have to to make sure they get this film out there,” Sciurba said.
Jason King, one of the actors in the film, is working as the film's publicist for Illuminati Films on a volunteer basis.
"I've got a whole summer vested in this film and I'm going to see it to the end," said King, 29, of Alexandria.
King plays the part of Arthur Holmewood, whose fiancée is the object of desire of the Blood Vulture. "Those who truly have a passion for acting would work for free every day of their lives, that's if [they] have the opportunities," he said. "The opportunities to participate in a film and on stage are limited and the competition is fierce, therefore I, and most of the other cast members of 'Vulture's Eye,' find it a blessing to have another outlet to perform."
SCIURBA TOOK six months to write the screenplay. Producing the film took another six months with some of the scenes filmed in Loudoun, including Sciurba’s 200-year-old home in Purcellville, along with Tucum Farm Stables, Ballina Farm and Mosby’s Tavern, all in Middleburg, and the Washington Dulles International Airport.
“I’m very enthusiastic about this,” Hoke said. “We’re very happy we have an opportunity to help Frank … move this film along.”
Sciurba said, “For me, success would be getting it distributed and getting backing for the next film.”
The film will be shown at a gala viewing at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 2, with a costume reception following. After the showing, Sciurba will ask the audience for feedback and, along with using feedback from two viewings last month, will make the final editing changes to the film. Sciurba and the cast will be available at the reception to meet members of the audience. Tickets for the event are $17. To purchase a ticket in advance, call 703-669-8444, or check the theater's Web site at www.tallyhotheatre.com for more information about the film.