A strange alien-like creature is chained to the wall. Four kids lay motionless on the floor, marked with blood. A menacing woman in a white lab coat steps over them to talk to a baby girl dangling from the ceiling. A light fog flows through the scene.
This is just a regular Wednesday or Thursday night in the Grand Hampton garage of 45-year-old Antony Capers, where, on this night, he is filming another episode of his quirky, campy, creepy — and even funny — web video series that has much of his community buzzing.
Capers, a freelance designer who owns his own production company, Reelistic Tales, is an accomplished painter, graphic designer and has even written and illustrated children’s books. He also is the creator of “Grand Hampton: The Movie Series.”
He says the series, which so far has posted 17 episodes and can be viewed on YouTube by searching for “Grand Hampton Movie,” has changed his life. The series has 151 subscribers, and roughly 6,000 total views. A party was held in the Grand Hampton clubhouse for the Season 2 premiere.
He doesn’t get paid to do the show — a new episode is posted each Monday — but he says it has brought him the kind of joy that is priceless.
“It’s really a labor of love for me,” Capers says. “I’ve met so many of my neighbors, and it’s become a close-knit production of new friends.”
What began as a short 45-second clip morphed into a series of short episodes filmed exclusively in Grand Hampton, starring only the community’s residents.
“It’s like my Hollywood playground back here,” says Capers, a Queens, NY native.
Which is not how it all began. His initial 45-second clip of his son Merric staring out across a lake in a trance, pointing at something only he could see, was done for Capers’ portfolio.
But, he decided to post the clip on Grand Hampton’s community Facebook page for fun, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Everybody who commented asked what Merric was looking at, and not to leave them hanging,” Capers said.
So, he didn’t. He shot two more episodes with his son, basing the story on an idea that has been bouncing around his head for years — where a community that is comprised entirely of people in the witness protection program is used to harvest the lungs of those who won’t be missed.
With requests for more episodes, Capers started asking for community volunteers to play roles in the production.
Richard Villarino was first, playing a neighbor in Episode 3 concerned that children were disappearing.
Another neighbor, Annette Simmons-Brown, sent in a head shot and, perhaps because her bald head (at the time) gave her a more minacious look, was pegged to be the evil Dr. Annette, the harvester of kids’ lungs, a few episodes later.
“I don’t know why he picked me…but I’m glad he did,” Simmons-Brown says. “It’s been so much fun. If I had to rate the whole experience on a scale of 1-to-10, I’d give it a 15.”
Taabish Ajaney, a 15-year-old North Tampa Christian Academy student, messaged Antony on Facebook looking for a role. He landed a part, but also has extensive editing experience and has taken on the role of intern, helping shoot many of the scenes.
Julia Rees, a 26-year-old medical school student, donned a red hood, black makeup streaked across her face and a 10-inch knife while emerging in the Season 1 finale as a mysterious hero…or perhaps a villain.
“He just said I’d be a bad ass,” says Rees. “I’m not sure where the character is going, but I’m along for the ride.”
Roughly 50 neighbors, many who gathered to watch the filming of the latest episode, have played roles. Kelly and Lura Mulroy and Latasha Scurry play television anchors, Henry Scurry is convincing — and arguably the best actor in the series — as the head bad guy, and Ishban Howard has played multiple roles, including one as the chained up alien.
Nicole Reber is another bad guy who made her debut recently in Season 2, Episode 3, and her three children — Ashton, Dylan and Skyla — were all snatched by the aliens in the same episode. Others have helped build sets and set up other scenes, while Capers’ next door neighbor Chace Scurry not only played a part, but her infant daughter Jahnai was the one dangling from the ceiling while mom nervously looked on. “Can you believe she let me do that?,” Capers says, chuckling.
Jordan Caviggia read about the show on Facebook, and brought his son Jaxon, 9, to the most recent shoot, where he played one of the children in the garage.
“It sounded like it’s a fun time, and I thought Jaxon would enjoy it,” Jordan said.
Capers thanked him for showing up, and asked the elder Caviggia if he was interested in having a part, too. Five days later, Caviggia filmed a scene playing the head of a newsroom.
“This has really ended up being about bringing people together,” he says. “It’s not about the show. I mean, there’s a story there, but it’s about community. It’s weird, and it’s a weird thing that’s happening, and I love it.”
Would Capers love for his show to catch the eye of a Hollywood executive? Of course.
“If not, I’ll just keep filming with my friends,” he says.