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Filmmaker PJ Starks Continues to Expand Filmography, Owensboro’s Profile

PJ Starks (far right) during filming of 'A Mind Beside Itself' (Photo courtesy of Verite Cinema)

Owensboro filmmaker PJ Starks–a videographer and editor for Owensboro Community & Technical College’s OCTV 71–has been quietly building quite a filmography right here inside Daviess County for more than three years. And now he’s in the early stages of his next project, a romantic horror comedy called Necromance. In fact, horror was the genre of his 2008 debut, Hallows Eve: Slaughter on Second Street.

HALLOWS EVE: SLAUGHTER ON SECOND STREET

PJ was the writer, director, cinematographer, and editor for Hallows Eve–a slasher flick with a wry sense of humor that also paid tongue-in-cheek homage to previous works, most notably the Scooby Doo TV series.

Verite Cinema

Check out character names like Frank, Stephanie, Alma, Chevy, and Doobie if you have any doubts. According to PJ, Hallows Eve–shot in the old Slaughter on Second Street haunted house downtown and in some offices at the Museum of  Science and History–was an effort to put local talent on display and to show that Owensboro can be a mighty fine place to shoot a movie.  Chad Benefield and myself reviewed the movie on our WOMI talk show, The Screening Room.

SUMMER 2010

Last summer was a very busy one for PJ. He wrote, directed, edited and executive produced a short film called A Mind Beside Itself. PJ also worked with writer-director Lee Goldberg on a film called Remaindered, for which he co-produced, co-edited, and directed cinematography. (Goldberg, by the way, was the exec-producer for the Dick Van Dyke mystery series Diagnosis: Murder as well as the author of the novels from which the Monk TV series was adapted.) And then, there was the film debut of PJ’s son, Logan Starks, who entered the filmmaking ranks with his project, Into the World: a Baby’s Tale. It’s a documentary about the first day of his newborn baby brother Connor’s life. Apparently, the Starks movie-making gene is a strong one.

NEW PROJECTS

PJ is currently planning to write a new romantic horror comedy–whaddya know? A new genre–called Necromance. But it’s still in the idea stage and he won’t reveal too much information until he begins to put pen to paper.  PJ has also been working with with his good friend and fellow filmmaker, Jakob Bilinski, from Evansville. They’ll soon collaborate on a medieval apocalyptic thriller called Knights of the Living Dead. Plus, we’ll all be looking forward to The River City Festival Films–Owensboro’s first film festival scheduled for October 15th at Towne Square Mall. PJ, his wife Katrina, and best buddy Rodney Newton are spearheading the event.

“THE PROCESS”

I asked PJ how he comes up with his ideas, which turned out to be the simplest of all questions. Inspirations hit PJ from all directions and at any given time, usually while he’s driving. But he’s also been known to be hit with concepts while in the shower or when he’s in “auto-pilot mode”–his words–at his new job at Unifirst. No surprise there; I’ve talked with many songwriters whose ideas pop into their head from the unlikeliest locations and at the oddest times.

FESTIVAL SUCCESS

Verite Cinema

I think it’s terrific we have an ambitious and innovative movie producer like PJ Starks in our midst. He’s already managed to put Owensboro on filmdom’s radar as his Hallows Eve was screened in 2009 at the Fright Night Film Festival in Louisville–and to a packed house no less. It was also shown at the Beaufort International Film Festival in South Carolina where it was also a rousing success. More recently, his short film,  A Mind Beside Itself, won the Best Drama and Best Lead Actor awards at the Mayday Film Festival in Indiana. It’s also been accepted into the Landlocked Film Festival in Iowa and the Southern Appalachian International Film Festival in Tennessee, where it’s a nominee as one of the top five contenders in its category.

Congratulations are definitely in order for pre-eminent Owensboro filmmaker PJ Starks. The way he comes up with ideas for his movies, there’s no telling how many he has in the pipeline. And thanks to PJ, there’s no telling how many more opportunities folks around the country are going to have to learn what a great location site Owensboro is for shooting a movie. Hey, it happened in 1954. It can certainly happen again; we’re long overdue.

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