By Debbie Adams
The Town of Vinton has a starring role in the new Watchman Pictures movie “Princess Cut 3: Beauty from Ashes” which had its world premiere on February 10 at the Grandin Theatre in Roanoke.
Watchman Pictures founders and filmmakers Sheilah and Paul Munger and several members of the cast and crew were on hand for the movie’s debut, along with Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond, who was involved with the filming back in 2018.
The movie was filmed over the course of about eight weeks, in the Vinton Police Department offices, in downtown Vinton, in Roanoke, and at an alpaca farm near Smith Mountain Lake.
Location scout (and actor) Joseph Durbin said he randomly came across the Vinton Police Department when he was scouting locations a few weeks ahead of filming. General conversations often lead to “someone who knows someone” and that’s how he met Chief Thomas Foster– then Vinton’s Chief of Police, now the U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Virginia. They became friends and that opened the door to filming in Vinton.
On November 15, 2018, Watchman Pictures took over the Vinton Police Department for the day, turning it into the location for lock-up and office scenes in the faith-based romance movie.
The VPD offices and hallways were crowded with cameras, lights, actors, crew, make-up artists, and caterers– in addition to the Vinton law enforcement officers on duty.
The plot for “Princess Cut 3” involves “A down-on-her-luck waitress– and single mother– who witnesses a domestic disturbance and develops an unexpected relationship with the policeman investigating the case.” That’s why the producers were searching for a police department for the filming.
Quite a few scenes in the movie involved the Vinton Police in one way or another– the actors portraying police officers in the film wore VPD seals on their unforms and were seen in Vinton Police T-shirts. In one scene, the exterior of the police department was relocated from the Municipal Building across the street to the Vinton Fire Department (renamed the Vinton Police Department through the magic of computers). There’s a brief glimpse of the Vinton Branch Library and one scene is set at a nearby Blue Ridge Parkway underpass. (The scenery is a little different now in the Vinton Police Department after many upgrades and improvements in the past year.)
The scenes filmed at the Vinton Police Department centered on Tessa, who witnessed a domestic violence situation. Her statement was taken by an officer while the perpetrator was being arrested and held in custody. It was virtually love at first sight for the officer– not so much for Tessa. The film tells the story of their unfolding friendship and blossoming romance.
At the time of the filming in Vinton in 2018, the Mungers said their vision was “to craft excellent films “for the glory of God,” and the movie stays true to that concept.
Sheilah Munger described their crew and cast as “experienced and excellent,” with about 35 crew members and a cast of 40+ who came from all over the country.
The cast also included some of Vinton’s police officers– Chief Foster, then Deputy Chief Drumond, Detectives Brandon Hill and Todd Bailey, and Officer (now Corporal) Dustin Bray all took part in the shooting. Bray is the one who made the cut into the final version of the movie, making an arrest.
The Mungers were not new to Vinton with the “Princess Cut” movie. They lived here for four months while filming “Alone Yet Not Alone” at Explore Park several years ago.
According to Munger, once filming is wrapped up, there is still a long process before a film premieres. Filmmaking starts with developing a concept, writing, and refining a script, locking in funding, locations, and dates, securing actors, and doing the principal shooting. After filming, in post-production, there is editing, scoring, adding color and special effects, the marketing phase, and distribution. That post-production phase and COVID have delayed the release of the “Princess Cut” films past their anticipated 2020 date to February 2022. (There are, in fact, three “Princess Cut” films, as of now.)
More information on watching or purchasing the “Princess Cut” trilogy is available at https://watchmanpictures.com/.