Camp Thompson in Cooke Township Sets the Stage for WWII Film Project | The Sentinel: News
Phyllis Zimmerman for the Sentry
A Carlisle Family YMCA camp recently became the setting for an upcoming WWII film written and produced by a regional filmmaker.
Darrin Archer of Greencastle is Writer and Executive Producer of “The Greenhouses of the Phoenix”, an independent film by Bullet Time Productions set in occupied France during WWII in 1944. Archer selected Carlisle Family YMCA’s Camp Thompson installation in Cooke Township near Gardners as a weeklong filming site depicting a wartime prison camp. Filming took place last month.
Camp Thompson is a family campground located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in the Michaux State Forest.
âCamp Thompson plays a huge role in this movie. There were wooden barracks, there were woods all around, and there were paths. It was a perfect setting for a prison camp, âsaid Archer, who also plays the role of a pilot in the film.
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Archer said he heard about the camp through word of mouth while hiking in the Michaux state forest. Bullet Time Productions, which bills itself as an independent, Pennsylvania-based film company, is a partnership that includes Archer, Gus Zucco, and Archer’s wife Katherine, who also stars in the film.
“Talons of Phoenix”, which tells the story of a commando mission that takes place in France during World War II in 1944, is funded by a private investor.
âWe had a lot of amazing photos (at Camp Thompson) as the leaves turned. It’s a beautiful region, âsaid Archer. âSome of us camped out there in the huts. It was very cold at night, but there was a large fireplace in the main building.
Digital fencing will be added to Camp Thompson film scenes to better reproduce the setting of a prison camp. Filming is slated to end in January at the historic East Broad Top Railway in Huntingdon County.
âI wanted to shoot locally to keep costs down and also, there are a lot of actors here who use it as a central location between jobs in New York or Washington,â said Archer, whose other productions for the company include. “Bulletproof” (2020) and “Dark Military” (2017).
“Heels” director Wesley Mellott of the King of Prussia said it was “good to go offline” with no mobile phone service available while filming at the camp. He traveled to Camp Thompson daily from his accommodation in Gettysburg.
âIt’s a big project with a big story,â said Mellot, an independent owner of Thinking Art Entertainment. “There are a lot of great actors in this film, and it’s a very big challenge for me to develop my profession.”
“Talons of the Phoenix” features 50 main actors with talking parts joined by 20 to 25 extras. Archer said some of the cast drove six hours to get to the set. “It was a bucket list of movies for them.”
Archer said the original goal was to complete and release the film next year on Netflix or a similar content distribution site, although “we would like to have a theatrical release.”
He wrote the script for the project to match classic World World II sagas like âThe Dirty Dozenâ and âKelly’s Heroesâ produced in Hollywood decades ago.
âThese are the kind of movies that have a little bit of humor and are more about personal stories and loyalty than gore.
âThe war films made over the last decade are too intense. I can’t sit with my 10 year old son and watch something like that, âArcher said.