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Smithville Times

BIG Stunts, little City

Source: Smithville Times
Author: Denis McGinness 

Downtown Smithville became a virtual Hollywood back lot recently as the film crew for “Doonby” shot four separate stunt scenes that closed parts of Loop 230 and Main Street. The excitement was palatable as onlookers watched while an 18-ton dump truck crashed and crushed everything in its way.

Stunt coordinator Charlie Parrish was in charge of the chaos and during shooting he paced the street, walkie-talkie in hand, conferring with his team and checking details with director Peter Mackenzie.

Parrish, who has been working in film for 15 years, got his big break in college working on “Wyatt Earp” as a riding double and stand-in. He’s been breaking a leg ever since.

“I’m the youngest of five rowdy Texas kids and it seems I’ve always been into some sort of crazy action,” Parrish said. “When I got to work on Wyatt Earp, I bugged the stunt guys relentlessly for any information or advice they could give me”

Parrish recently moved to the Rosanky area where he and his wife Beth manage the Rock-C Ranch.

“I met Peter Mackenzie at a mixer for the Smithville Film Commission,” Parrish said. “I thought it would be a good idea to meet the people involved with film here.”

The Doonby stunt team lead by Charlie Parrish worked with director Peter Mackenzie and actor John Schneider to capture this dramatic scene.

Parrish was in the right place at the right time, landing the stunt coordinator spot for Doonby, a film about a mysterious, handsome drifter who seems to be in the right place at the right time to avert a series of disasters from hitting the small Texas town he’s landed in.

Parrish and his team planned the stunt scenes with Mackenzie and Peter Field, director of photography. Downtown Smithville streets were closed off for two days for the filming, beginning with a day of figuring camera angles, vehicle movements and camera positions. Day two was a major Hollywood production as dozens of actors, producers and crewmembers worked on getting each scene just right.

The center of the action throughout the day was a Mack dump truck driven by veteran stunt driver Jeff Milburn, a specialist in vehicles of all shapes and sizes. The truck ran over shopping carts, sideswiped several vehicles and for a grand finale, crashed into a Chevrolet pickup.

“I’m very lucky to have gathered together some fantastic stunt professionals,” Parrish said. “My stunt team came to me through referrals from other stunt coordinators in the area. Danny Wayne, one of my best friends from the Dallas area came down to support me and lend his talents to the car sequence.”

Cheryl Wheeler-Duncan, from the Austin area, drove in the near miss scenes, maneuvering the vehicle past the speeding dump truck. She also drove the pickup that was smashed on Main Street.

Big names

John Schneider, a veteran actor who is also credited as a stunt driver in several episodes of the TV series Dukes of Hazzard, worked with Parrish on a scene involving a runaway shopping cart.

“John is a great person, with a wealth of experience, not just as an actor or a stuntman, but also as a director,” Parrish said.  “He sees action sequences better than most.”

The shopping cart scene, filmed in front of Clint’s liquor store, had Schneider pulling a prop dressed as a child from a shopping cart mere seconds before the Mack dump truck smashes into it. At impact, groceries spun through the air and oranges rolled down the street – one of the highlights of the day.

The final scene featured the dump truck crashing into a pickup at the intersection of Loop 230 and Main Street. As the crew checked cameras and Smithville film commission volunteers managed the crowd, Parrish discussed the stunt with volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.

As cameras rolled, extras on the sidewalks reacted to the first impact, which pushed the pickup close to an antique streetlight at the corner of Main Street.

Amazingly, the pickup was still drivable and a second impact was filmed, this one sending the pickup into a tailspin through the intersection. Cut and wrap.

“As a coordinator, it is great to have another set of eyes that understands the process and is willing to watch your back,” Parrish said. “John came through with a great suggestion that helped make the car crash sequence even better.  It is an honor to work with him.”

Doonby will be shooting for another couple of weeks Parrish said, but most of the action shots will be done before that.

“We did all the big stuff first,” Parrish said. “We’ll finish with a few fight sequences and another, smaller car scene.”

Working on Doonby could open a few more doors for Parrish and that would be great.

“I love working in film and plan to keep doing it as long as it remains fun,” he said.

 

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