New film features Alpine actors

Sul Ross State University theatre student Kaylee Smith is one of many Sul Ross students who will be featured in Marfa Ghost Stories, a film written and directed by Austin-based writer and director Tony Morris. Other Sul Ross students in the movie are Jason Roman and Westin Huffman. 

Many films, both classic and contemporary, have been shot around the Big Bend area, a place well-known for attracting actors, artists, musicians, and writers. A new film, Marfa Ghost Stories, will be released later this year and will feature both Sul Ross State University theatre students and Hollywood actors.

Austin based writer and director Tony Morris, a classical musician with over 20 years of broadcasting experience, is excited to work with the promising students he refers to as “world class talent.” The students were also featured in the pre-production trailer shot around six months ago in Marfa and Shafter, and the full-length movie will start shooting May 1.

The new film - set on location in Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, and Shafter - revolves around people telling ghost stories around a campfire. A young couple driving on Highway 17 run out of gas late at night. They start walking, and stumble upon a campfire where they meet a Native American man and his grandson. The four characters pass the night by telling frightful ghost stories.

Said Morris, “We have addressed every fundamental fear - if you are afraid of fires, rattlesnakes, drowning, then we have something to scare you.”

Morris said he first started coming out to West Texas in 2013 after meeting close friend and Building 98 owner Mona Blocker Garcia, who is also the founder of the International Woman’s Foundation. Two film trailers will be shown at Building 98 in Marfa in conjunction with a new art exhibit opening. The film will also be promoted in Los Angeles at the American Film Market Convention, and will be released around Halloween or November of this year.

Besides local actors, Morris said he has some Hollywood actors in mind to play the lead roles, and he’s still waiting to hear back from them. But he did provide a clue. One is a well-known actor known for playing scary villains, and the other is a beautiful young actress who has appeared in various Disney films.

“We started with the idea of doing a modest little movie, and then with my crazy luck, we ended up getting some famous actors interested in being in it!” Morris exclaimed.

A full theatrical release will be shown in the U.S., and after that it will go to international markets, specifically Berlin, Eastern Europe, Russia, and India.  

“A lot of people don’t know it, but people in Eastern Europe and Russia love stories about Texas. Cowboy and Western stuff are really hot there,” Morris pointed out.

Morris, who has personally met the legendary actor Clint Eastwood, said, “This movie is a love letter to West Texas, but told in a very scary story. Telling ghost stories around a campfire is one of the oldest traditions of the human experience. It predates the written word.”

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