By CHERIL VERNON
Oakwood native Dorell Anthony is living the dream.
Living in New York City since 2010, Anthony, 25, has already written and starred in two horror films, had a guest role on the “All My Children” online reboot and is now releasing a soap opera web series that he created with the film production company he operates with his two business partners.
And if that isn't cool enough, the full service in-house film, video and theatrical production company based in New York City, 3 of a Kind Productions, LLC, recently had the opportunity to make a indie short film starring “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston titled “Writer's Block.”
Now let's rewind:
Anthony graduated from Oakwood High School in 2006, from Tyler Junior College in 2008 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in acting in 2010 from Texas State University in San Marcos.
While at Texas State University, he wrote “Homecoming I,” a horror film. Shortly after moving to NYC in 2010, he had the inspiration to continue the story, and wrote “Homecoming II” in a matter of days. The independent films are currently making their rounds in the film festivals.
Living in New York City, Anthony has kept busy the last few years attending auditions and acting classes. He starred in his first off-Broadway production “Nobody Heard Me Cry” back in 2010.
Doing background work for the “All My Children” soap opera web series reboot last year, Anthony starred in four episodes recently.
“I was doing background work and got upgraded. I got to play one of three bullies. I learned during that time that those working on a soap are some of the hardest working in the industry. You work 12 to 14 hour days learning lines you were given the night before and waking up early for 6 a.m. shoots,” Anthony said.
“Pride: The Series”
Meeting people in the “business” has lead to many connections which have helped Anthony and his other two business partners — Austin native Brandon Polanco and Jennifer Sara Wilmeth produce their newest project, “Pride: The Series,” a seven-episode web series 3 of a Kind Productions, LLC, has produced.
Anthony conceived the idea for “Pride: The Series” based on an idea of a show revolving around relationships between roommates in New York City. Wilmeth and Polanco were brought in the mix early on, pulling their team together to write episodes and start production.
“We started shooting in March 2013 when I was filming my part on 'All My Children' so it was crazy,” Anthony said. “It's a story about four people connected by love, blood, sex and friendship going through struggles. I think it's going to be a moving piece. It does have elements of gay and lesbian lifestyles in it, all walks of life.”
The pilot episode is currently available for free online at www.pridetheseries.com.
Beginning May 20, new episodes of “Pride: The Series” will begin airing on Tuesdays for $2.99 an episode or with a $25 season pass.
Anthony and Polanco star in the series along with Ashley Mitchell, Adam Andrew Rios, Braden Bradley and others such as Whitney Hoy and Aaron Mathias. Soap opera veteran Ilene Kristen (“Ryan's Hope,” “One Life to Live” and “Another World” also starred in one of the episodes.
“I think people are going to like it. There's a story for everyone. We filmed all over New York — Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn — and Massachusetts,” Anthony said. “Episodes range from 13 to 22 minutes, so it's like a 30-minute series without the commercials. We use a new cinema camera that all the industry is using that is very high quality.”
The web series was filmed using a Blackmagic Cinema Camera - First Generation with a 60-year-old Nikon photo prime lenses, according to Polanco.
Anthony said moving to NYC has been freeing creatively.
“It's great to be able to make your own content that you want to be able to produce. It gives you a lot of freedom. And you get a lot more respect by coming up by doing the hard work. You can create a name for yourself,” Anthony said. “It's good camera work, good writing and good acting.”
“Pride: The Series” was set to be featured in two soap opera magazines this week, according to Anthony.
Working with “Breaking Bad” Star Bryan Cranston
Sometimes working on films behind the scenes can give a writer or director their big break.
Polanco, who graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University, calls the short independent film he wrote and directed starring “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston his “calling card.”
But it was a chance opportunity that led to that break.
The short was created in 2012 during the production of Cranston's 2014 film “Cold Comes The Night.”
Polanco, who will be 27 in a few days, was one of the production assistants who was offered the opportunity to participate in a contest Cranston created during Hurricane Sandy. Production assistants on the set were given the chance to bring him a script, and if he liked the story, he would star in the project — which had to be ready to film that next day.
Polanco's script “Writer's Block” was chosen — he wrote the script that night.
“The contest was for the PA's (production assistants) to give them a creative outlet while he was here filming during the hurricane,” Polanco said during an interview with the Herald-Press. “I started writing a script about writer's block — wanting something to come out of me. It came from how I felt about writing, feeling trapped. Drinking and writing and driving me insane — that's where it came from.”
After Cranston chose the script, Polanco had three hours to put it together. His fellow production assistants Chaz Rose and Spenser Granese jumped on board to help co-star and co-produce the film. Others on the production team were Shane Valcich, a local filmmaker who joined the project as the director of photography and Erinn Clancy who became the editor. Together, they created “Writer's Block.”
“I had him (Cranston) for two to three hours that day. It was pretty ambitious. He worked with us one more day after that,” Polanco said.
Actress Lela Edgar became the mysterious woman that is featured in the short film. Cranston's character, caught up by writer's block, falls for a muse and becomes lost.
“Yes, it was intimidating directing him on the film, but the short time we had didn't allow me to anticipate. But yes, I had my moments where I thought this is Walter White! I had literally just started watching 'Breaking Bad.' That's why when the opportunity came up, I knew I had to do it. I had to jump in there and figure it out and not think about it,” Polanco said.
Polanco said working in the film industry has led to amazing opportunities.
“I've learned that if you work in film, absorb it and learn it. There are so many times where I wanted to say 'I just want to direct, I just want to write, that's all I want to do' but that's being young. If you really want to do this, then learn. Because of that, I got the opportunity to work with Bryan (Cranston).
The short film already has started making waves.
“I hope it leads to making my mark and getting someone interested in more of our work,” Polanco said.
The “Writer's Block” short is available to view online at http://vimeo.com/81902364 or to purchase on iTunes.
Continued Support From His Hometown
Anthony thanked everyone from Texas for their continued support of his dreams, including his mother Wilmertine Harrison, grandmother Rosie Harrison, and younger brother Shaquille Robinson, all of Oakwood, as well as other friends and colleagues. He also gives special thanks to Charlotte Pate, his former one-act-play director and high school teacher from Oakwood, who never gave up on him when it came to acting.
“It has been an absolute blessing to have the opportunity to follow my dreams but it would not have been possible without their support,” Anthony said.
Anthony encourages other young adults to pursue their dreams.
“You can live your dream,” Anthony said.