Former Miss Tampa Charleene Closshey makes a movie in hometown Plant City
Home is where Charleene Closshey's heart and movie are, a Plant City native with a Hollywood dream.
Earlier this month, Closshey, 35, began filming No Postage Necessary, a dramedy for which she produces and stars. She expects to wrap principal photography on Aug. 23 on the low budget indie produduction.
Making her movie practically in her childhood backyard is icing on the strawberry shortcake.
"That's a big thing for us," Closshey said by telephone during a recent break in filming. "We don't believe in the locust phenomenon where you fly in, you eat all the grass and then fly away.
"This is my hometown, my family is still here. I don't want to fly in, abuse relationships, abuse people. If anything our stakes are higher because we're still here in some ways. And part of me will always be here."
Closshey could've filmed elsewhere. Alabama and Mississippi each offered state-sponsored incentives trying to attract No Postage Necessary, and any economic benefits it would bring. Florida's similar incentives program is currently flat broke.
However, the Hillsborough County Commission approved a $25,000 locally funded incentive for No Postage Necessary. That's 10 percent of $250,000 that the production is predicted to pump into the county's economy, through paying crew members and actors, equipment rental, catering, renting 350 hotel room nights, and other expendatures.
"Twenty-five thousand dollars doesn't seem like a lot," Closshey said. "It seems like nothing, if you have a $3 million movie. But this isn't a $3 million movie."
No Postage Necessary is classified by the Screen Actors Guild as a modified low budget production, meaning it costs $700,000 or less to create. "We're nowhere near that," Closshey said, suggesting her movie is closer to the $500,000 mark.
"If you have a half-million dollar movie, and half of that (budget) actually winds up coming to a local environment, a 10 percent investment (through incentives) is sound."
No Postage Necessary stars Closshey as Josie Cartwright, a widow for six years after her U.S. Marine husband was killed in combat. "She's stuck in the grieving process," Closshey said, using a talent for calligraphy to pen letters left at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier "like conversation pieces to her dead husband."
"It has dramatic themes but with comedic elements woven throughout," Closshey said. "It's really about how a group of individuals come together at a time in their lives, to re-evaluate who they are and where they are in their lives, in that moment. And then, the next steps that they may choose - or not choose - to make."
No Postage Necessary co-stars George Blagdan (History Channel's Vikings, the upcoming series Versailles), Robbie Kay ("Peter Pan" on Once Upon a Time), and Michael Beach (Sons of Anarchy, the upcoming Patriots Day, starring Mark Wahlberg).
No distribution deal is set yet, but Closshey's previous producion An Evergreen Christmas found minor success on Netflix and exclusive sales at Walmart stores.
Closshey won the Miss Tampa title in 2003, a year after winning the Miss Orlando crown during her senior year at Florida Southern College. A multitalented musician, Closshey made her Broadway debut in Once, and since performer off-Broadway.