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Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Plant City native thrilled to star in her first feature film

PLANT CITY If everything goes according to plan, a movie starring Plant City native Charleene Closshey may brighten up the holidays in less than a year.

“Balsam Falls,” written by Jeremy Culver and his sister Morgan, features Closshey as a rock singer with a faltering career who is called home to the family Christmas tree farm after the death of her father. She ultimately decides her heart is in her rural hometown in more ways than one.

“They have written a really endearing story with an endearing plot,” Closshey said.

The producers hope for a November release.

The cast for “Balsam Falls” includes Robert Loggia, known for his roles in “Scarface” and “Independence Day,” and Naomi Judd, who teamed with her daughter in the musical duo The Judds.

“We were really blessed with a talented cast,” said Jeremy Culver, who is also the movie’s director.

Closshey said she enjoyed playing in “Balsam Falls” because it allowed her to showcase her musical and acting abilities. Music is her first love, she added.

“People ask me if I prefer music or acting. I always tell them that music is who I am and acting is what I do,” she said.

The movie has been screened twice: once for movie marketers in Hollywood and once in Lakeland to benefit charity.

Negotiations are under way for distribution rights to “Balsam Falls,” Closshey said. The film could become a TV movie or a series pilot, she said.

Closshey’s mother, Jennifer, is the executive producer and several Plant City residents play minor roles, including Charleene’s dad Charles, who is a bartender, and her aunt, Yvonne Fry, who portrays a secretary.

The movie, set at the Christmas season in a fictional Tennessee town, was filmed over four weeks last winter in rural areas around Charlotte, N.C. Jeremy Culver said he and his crew spent months editing and rewriting the movie, whittling the film down from an original 228 minutes to 98 minutes.

Closshey, who is Culver’s real life fiancé, has been involved in all stages of the movie. She likens it to raising a child “and now we’re sending it off to college.”

Closshey, 32, has been in front of cameras and audiences her entire life, starting as a baby when her photo appeared on packages of Northern bathroom tissue. She was on the Florida Strawberry Festival’s queen’s court in 1999 and was Miss Tampa in 2003.

Closshey has pursued a full-time career in acting and music since her 2002 graduation from Florida Southern College with degrees in marketing and exercise science.

Closshey has been spending most of her time in Los Angeles but said she is currently pursuing a role in a new movie that will be shot in Florida.

“I expect to be home a lot more this coming year,” she said.

Twitter: @dnicholsonTrib

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