BUCKHANNON – A local mom-and-daughter pair helped in the creation of the new UFO feature film, “Kecksburg” and had the chance to attend its world premiere and walk the red carpet earlier this month.
Melanie Gillum and her daughter, 11-year-old Channing, each had a part in helping make the film by Director Cody Knotts, and the two attended its debut Sept. 12 at the State Theatre Center for the Arts in Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
According to the trailer, “Kecksburg” is a horror film that explores the U.S.’s “east Coast Roswell,” which is Kecksburg, a town described by reviewers as “a slice of Americana located outside of the city of Pittsburgh in rural Pennsylvania.”
Melanie said she had approached Knotts and asked if she could work on hair and makeup for the film because she needed some extra credits.
“To work on films as a hair and makeup artist, you must have experience in order to join the union,” Melanie said. “I needed more experience, and I figured if he had the availability, that would be a good way for me to get some of those hours.”
She said she messaged the director with her request and was pleased when he said yes.
So, Melanie said she started working on hair and makeup for the film. During that time, Knotts, the director, did some more casting and her daughter, Channing Gillum, was cast in a part.
“The part Channing was cast for did not make it into the film,” Melanie said. “It got cut.”
But Channing’s participation in the film was not just limited to the part where she was cast. Melanie said Channing also served as one of the associate producers of the film.
“Her name is in the credits as the associate producer,” Melanie said. “My name is also in the credits as hair and makeup stylist.”
Melanie said since she and Channing were part of the film, they walked the red carpet which happened a few weeks ago. She said the premier they attended was basically just for those who appeared in the show.
“It was a rough cut of the film,” Melanie said. “Cody showed the film and gets feedback. Then he can go back and fix things in the film after the viewing. So, the film is not quite ready yet. I am not sure when it will be released because he has not announced that yet.”
Melanie said in order to join the union, she needed 500 hours – but isn’t sure how many hours she will receive. She said her interest in doing hair and makeup stems from Channing’s love of doing pageants and runway.
Channing attends Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School and is in sixth grade.
“We entered her in a casting call in Pittsburgh for ‘The Outsiders,’ and she was actually an extra in the show,” Melanie said. “Actually, we were both cast as extras in ‘The Outsiders.’ It was a WGN Series, so it was on television.”
Channing’s part on ‘The Outsiders’ was actually cut as well, “but it was a great experience for her,” Melanie said.
An associate producer is anyone who helps the producer during the movie.
“During ‘Kecksburg’ there were actually five or six different associate producers,” Melanie said. “Two of the associate producers were kids. I know Cody wanted this to be a family film because he has kids as well, so that is why Channing was able to participate in this role. He wanted everyone who wanted to be a part of this film to get to do that.”
Melanie said she and Channing traveled to Preston County for some of the shooting of “Kecksburg,” while other parts were shot in Pennsylvania such as Kecksburg and Uniontown, where the world premiere took place.
Melanie said this was a great experience for she and daughter Channing.
“It was very cool to do something like this together with Channing,” Melanie said. “It kind of goes to show how much work goes into something. She works hard and we had a great experience. We had fun walking the Red Carpet and I almost didn’t know what to do. But Channing walked out there and said, ‘We got this.’”
Melanie said she hopes folks will view the film ‘Kecksburg’ when it is released.
“There was a lot of work that went into it by a lot of people and we hope folks will enjoy the film,” Melanie said.
Watch the official trailer for “Kecksburg’ here.