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Horror film director hopes to film at EPCAL in September


Look out Hollywood, here comes Riverhead … and Terry Wickham. 

On the heels of an HBO mini-series called “The Young Pope” shooting scenes in Baiting Hollow Wednesday, the director of a much smaller budget film convinced the Riverhead Town Board Friday to let him shoot on the unused runway at Enterprise Park at Calverton for five days in September for no charge.

Mr. Wickham, a Copiague resident and the owner of Manta Ray Films, is filming a movie called “Devil’s Five.” At Friday’s work session, he asked Town Board members for permission to use the western runway at EPCAL, which is no longer used for aviation.

“There’s one little twist,” Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said in starting off the discussion. “It’s rather low budget and Mr. Wickham is looking to not pay any license fee.”

Normally, the town charges $400 a day to film on its property, Mr. Kozakiewicz said.

“Devil’s Five” is a horror film and Mr. Wickham said he’s looking to use the runway for its opening scene, filmed like “Cops” with a camera on the dashboard, and showing a car being pulled over and a man getting out with a gun.

“Don’t tell us too much or we won’t watch it,” Councilman Jim Wooten said.

Mr. Wickham, who has directed seven other films, according to IMDB, said they raised $2,800 through a fundraiser for the movie, and all of the actors and participants are working for free, including two “rock stars,” Ralf Scheepers, who is the lead singer of Primal Fear, and Veronica Freeman, who is the lead singer of Benedictum.

Mr. Scheepers is coming from Germany for the film shoot, Mr. Wickham said.

Mr. Wickham is seeking to film on Sept. 18, 19 and 20, and again on Sept. 26 and 27.

“Horror movies have a very feverish fan base,” Mr. Wickham told the board.

When the Blair Witch Project was shot in 1999 in Burkittsville, Md., many people came to visit the places where the movie was shot, he said.

“We’re trying to keep people off the runway,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

“As a horror film expert, I can tell you that the best horror films are always made in smaller towns,” Mr. Wickham said.

He suggested EPCAL because he can’t afford to pay police to close down actual streets.

“Certainly we have enough retired police officers who can help you out,” Mr. Walter joked, alluding to Town Board candidates Bob Peeker and Tim Hubbard, who were in the audience, and Mr. Wooten and Mr. Dunleavy, all of whom are retired town police officers.

In addition to the runway, Mr. Wickham has taken out a Craigslist ad looking for two Ford Crown Victorias that can be made to look like police cars, and he’s seeking a room with no windows and some tables and chairs that can look like a police interrogation room.

Board members suggested Mr. Wooten’s office. Mr. Wickham is also looking for a hallway that would lead to the interrogating room and a room to look like a police department front desk area.

“What’s in it for Riverhead?” Mr. Walter asked.

Mr. Wickham said he would thank the town on his website, his Facebook site, his Twitter site and in the credits of the movie.

“I think we should do everything we can to help the arts, especially a low-budget film,” Mr. Dunleavy said.

“I guess I’ll go along with this,” Mr. Walter said.

Mr. Wooten also supported the request, although Council members Jodi Giglio and George Gabrielsen were absent.

“I can’t thank you enough,” Mr. Wickham said.

The board plans to formally approve the request by resolution at a future meeting.

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Photo Caption: The runway where the film shooting would take place. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)