Here’s something that Grand Hampton resident and multimedia artist Antony Capers never imagined happening when he started shooting his campy, convoluted and creepy YouTube-based horror series during the pandemic — “Grand Hampton: The Movie Series” is headed for the big screen.
What began as a 45-second video clip of Capers’ son Merric and became an online series with two seasons and 27 episodes filmed exclusively in the Grand Hampton community with local residents mostly during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, is now going to have its Season 3 premiere — an hour-long movie — shown at the iconic Tampa Theater in downtown Tampa in October.
Part of that premiere was shot at the Tampa Theater Friday afternoon.
Capers, a freelance designer who owns his own production company, Reelistic Tales, continues to be humbled by the rection to his horror series, which is about a community filled with people in the witness protection program, whose children are disappearing as part of an organ harvesting plot run by an evil doctor and assisted by strange alien creatures. The show has more than 250 subscribers and 15,000 views on YouTube. While it has allowed Capers to build strong friendships in the Grand Hampton community, his primary goal when he started the series, it also could pull open some curtains for the 46-year-old filmmaker.
The first curtains to open will be those at the Tampa Theater. Last year, Capers attended a horror movie viewing of “The Conjuring 3,” starring Tampa’s Patrick Wilson, at the old movie house in downtown Tampa as part of a “Film Tampa Bay Presents” series showcasing the work of local writers, directors, actors and crew who are from the Tampa area.
During the Question-&-Answer session after the movie, Jill Witecki, the Tampa Theater’s marketing director, says there was a lot of discussion about the Tampa Theater’s mission to celebrate area films and filmmakers, and it struck a chord with the New Tampa filmmaker.
The next day, Capers and Annette Simmons-Brown, who plays the evil Dr. Annette, harvester of children’s lungs, in the series, emailed Witecki about the Grand Hampton project.
“It was fascinating to us,” Witecki says. “Not only because he was a local filmmaker, but because it was really something different. It was a great example of some of the creativity that came to light during the pandemic.”
Witecki says Tampa Theater officials and Capers had a number of conversations about working together. One idea was to have Capers speak to the theater’s summer campers.
“The film camp program is learning how to do exactly what he did, which is take what’s around you, take the people and the locations, and turn it into a movie,” Witecki says.
The other idea was to fit “Grand Hampton: The Movie” into the theater’s October horror series, “The Nightmare on Franklin St.,” where classic horror movies have been shown the last two weeks of the month for the past nine years.
“It seemed to be a good fit,” she says.
Not only did Capers jump at the chance, but he also talked the theater into letting him film part of the premiere inside the Tampa Theater.
Capers and Simmons have written the script for the Season 3 premiere together. They wrote a small part for Witecki, as well. And, Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, who attended the Season 2 premier at the Grand Hampton clubhouse and helped give the show some of its initial publicity, also has a small role.
While Season 2 had to end abruptly due to the opportunity with the Tampa Theater, Capers says it is giving him a chance to revamp the series. Instead of it focusing on one family — him and Merric — each episode will be a 45-minute tale about a different family, which Capers compares to the way the old “Tales of the Crypt” series was filmed.
Season 3 begins with the parents of Grand Hampton going on a date night to the Tampa Theater, and while they are gone….well, you’ll just have to watch.
“A lot of action takes place back home during date night,” Capers says. “The new way of doing ‘Grand Hampton’ is pretty cool, if it works. It’s still ‘Grand Hampton,’ still the same characters, no paid actors, still 100-percent community involvement. It’s just revamped.”
The opportunity at Tampa Theater has Capers dreaming big.
He says a showing at an iconic theater will put new eyes on his series, which is a thrill. And, he’d love to get into the Sundance Film Festival, get on Netflix or even just get the chance to pitch the idea to a streaming service.
“That’s what I’m hoping for,” he says.
And, for Capers, Simmons and other Grand Hampton cast members, the chance to be seen on the big screen and then answer questions from the audience about what it’s like making a series and a movie will be the thrill of a lifetime.
“Branching out at an iconic location like Tampa Theater is going to be great,” Capers says. “I can’t wait.”
To view all episodes of the series, visit YouTube.com and search “Grand Hampton: The Movie”.