Little S.C. shop of Liberty becomes 'Chill' factory

Ray Clark’s cabinet shop had been considered Liberty, S.C.’s “little shop of horrors” until Morgan Creek Prods. gave it a movie makeover for its pic, “Chill Factor.”

Jeff Monks, Columbia, S.C.’s Film Commission manager, said director Hugh Johnson had settled on another town until he spotted Clark’s store and declared, “That’s it!”

Transformed into the fictional town of Jerome, Mont.’s only general store and diner complete with newly painted countertops and a new awning courtesy of the Hollywood crew, the shop owner had previously been fined $300 by the city and ordered to bring the building up to local codes.

In addition to this newfound moviemaking spectacle, locals of the town’s approximately 5,000 population were treated between takes with movie chit-chat from Cuba Gooding Jr., who stars along with Skeet Ulrich, said Monks.

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One of the government’s secret locations is being exposed on film.

Waterford, Conn., is an unlikely spot for a major film project, but Sonalysts Studios, originally founded in 1973 as a Navy defense contractor in submarine sonar technology, provided the perfect setting for the courtroom scenes in Steven Spielberg’s feature pic, “Amistad.”

DreamWorks had been scouting Rhode Island, but Ralph Guardiano, Sonalysts’ senior exec VP, enlisted the support of U.S. Rep. Sam Gejdenson to persuade them to take a look at the two-fold Connecticut site.

What they found was 15,000 square feet. of studio space under construction which, when completed with assistance from the DreamWorks crew, provided a soundproof 42-foot-high working environment.

Since then, a 5,000-square-foot stage and 7,000-square-foot stage have been added, as well as dressing and makeup rooms. Joe Cocker used the facility to pre-stage a world tour. Sonalysts also has three sound-recording studios, one capable of housing a 70-piece orchestra, labeled “Power Station New England,” a partnership with rocker Jon Bon Jovi’s second cousin, Tony Bongiovi’s Power Station N.Y. recording studio.

Sonalysts’ first foray into the major film market was nine years ago when it designed the sound-effects for Paramount’s “The Hunt for Red October.” “Killer,” an unreleased feature starring James Woods, was the first film shot entirely at the studio in ’94, and it recently completed principal shooting of its first self-produced feature, a swashbuckling, G-rated pic, “Mystic Nights and Pirate Fights.”

David and Miriam Hinkle, the company’s managing director and president, respectively, started Sonalysts (short for Sonar Analysts) 25 years ago. David Hinkle, a retired naval commander and an expert in sonar and underwater acoustics, continues to oversee training for the military, sonar analysis and the facility’s other sensitive research.

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