PLANT CITY — Matthew Glover, with the help of about 20 friends and family members, spent a recent weekend working under the hot July sun in dreams of hitting it big in Hollywood.
Glover and his volunteers acted in and filmed a three-minute movie to enter into a nationwide contest sponsored by “Operation Greenlight,” an HBO series that gives first-time filmmakers the chance to direct a feature film.
Glover wrote and directed “Under the Gallows,” a short on the hanging of a Union Army deserter during the Civil War. He has a shoestring budget of $500, mainly to buy equipment and supplies — and buy lunch for his volunteers.
Glover and his wife Nicole operate Glover Production, a video company. They wanted to take a shot at the next level through the contest.
“I heard about the competition through a friend and thought, ‘I ought to try that,’” he said.
Glover’s brother-in-law Erik Schmitz, who serves as stunt coordinator, set designer and a Union Army captain, said he likes to act and gladly volunteered his time.
“It’s just fun to pretend to be someone you’re not, particularly when the role lets you go back in time,” he said.
Schmitz’ wife April, who is Matthew Glover’s sister, helped with administrative duties and building the sets.
Glover tried to keep the scenes as authentic as possible, down to the wool uniforms that were worn by Union troops during the war.
The wool only added to the misery of the oppressive sun.
David Sloan, who portrayed the condemned soldier, said the heat made it difficult to stand for long periods of time during filming. He said he has acted before and it was worth the effort.
Most of the shots were filmed at wooden gallows that were built behind the Glovers’ rural home.
Filming wrapped up over one weekend.
“We went over all the film yesterday and I was extremely happy. I think we have a really solid short film,” Glover said.
“Project Greenlight” participants, including online viewers who register as judges, can view and rate the short films during the contest’s first round, which ends Aug. 22. The films can be accessed at www.projectgreenlight .com; Glover is encouraging everyone he knows to help out by casting a vote for his film.
The field will be further narrowed during two more rounds of competition until a panel of judges picks a winner in the fourth round.
Actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are executive producers of “Project Greenlight.”
Glover expects there will be hundreds of entries and winning may be a long shot. He said even if he doesn’t win, he’ll enter “Under the Gallows,” in film festivals.
To help underwrite movie expenses, Glover is appealing for donations on the crowdfunding site, kickstarter.com. His goal is $500.
“We’re just trying to get back what we have spent,” he said.