Journal of Film and Video
Nightmares At The Mill, LLC & Forever Young Productions


A Horrific Time to be had at The Mill!
By Marty Sui

Without a doubt, the creepiest production I've been involved with to date is the suspense/thriller horror movie titled, The Mill, which began shooting this past January in Landis, NC.  With so much suspense surrounding this thriller,  CONTINUED obtaining good details was challenging, to say the least.
     The film's storyline involves a party at an old abandoned mill that turns into a nightmare for eight college kids.  But is the film based on fact or fiction? This has been the haunting question because the old mill in Landis has always been thought of as being haunted.
     The rumors about this mill being haunted not only run ramped amongst the townspeople, but they are now frighteningly close to much of The Mill's production cast and crew - especially the writer - because of his own experiences!
     Salisbury's own Harry Welch Jr., the author and original screenplay writer, as well as an Executive Producer for The Mill, said there is no way he would spend the night at that old abandoned mill alone!
     Welch elaborated.  He said that while some of the crew was filming one night, they all heard spooky sounds coming from the other side of a downstairs wall.  They rushed down to check it out and happened to see a hole in that wall.  Instinctively, they put a camera through the hole and started shooting just to see what was happening on the other side.  Welch's video footage revealed a lock that was continuously rattling and shaking back and forth in a closed room.
Welch, who has written 18 screen plays thus far, is eager to see this particular story come to life because of all the suspense involved.     
     Producer of The Mill is Ralph Singleton (Because of Winn Dixie, Pet Sematary I & II), Clear and Present Danger, among many others).  Singleton is highly respected in the industry and said that local producer, Maxann Crotts-Harvey, who hails from Rock Hill SC,  is the reason I'm here."  He and Maxann worked together on Juwanna Mann, another NC project filmed a few years ago.  When Maxann presented the story of The Mill to him, he liked the concept right away and climbed aboard.  He said, “The spookiness of a haunted mill is a cool idea!
     Maxann Crotts-Harvey (The Rage: Carrie 2, Juwanna Mann, Major League 3, etc.) is an Executive Producer for The Mill.  She relayed the tale about the man who was working large machinery at the mill and mysteriously lost his hand.  Rumors have spread about this "haunted hand" for years.  She also mentioned that one of the neighbors of the mill told her about hearing the clanging of chains at night, and have seen two red eyes in the windows!
     Various production people spoke of eerie, unexplained events as well.  They described what was taking place on set, like the times they heard, above other natural sounds, the sounds of dripping pipes and voices throughout the night.  They say they would see shadows on the walls, though nothing appeared to be there to cast those shadows!
     Eerie, indeed.
     Singleton's father is in the textile business in New England, and says that most of these mills eventually become boutiques.  But what is rumored to have taken place in this NC mill after it was shut down is ... well that's a story worth telling and will unfold during this haunting production.  Suffice it to say that this mill will probably never become a boutique.
     Of the dripping pipes, the humming of generators and other sounds, Singleton confirmed, "  this is one scary place to be."  Singleton went on to praise the talent saying, "This is the most amazing cast and crew I've ever worked with, and what a pleasure it is to work with such a seriously organized director [Grainger Hines]."  He spoke highly of all the behind-the-scenes folks involved, including the caterer.  
Singleton exclaimed, "I'd work with this caterer [Matt Trexler] in a heart beat!"
     This writer would have to agree!  With days and nights and work hours being reversed, production would begin shooting at night and end at sunrise.  I arrived on set at 5 PM and was offered a fabulous breakfast to include eggs/omelets fixed anyway you can imagine - biscuits, gravy, bacon, cereal, juices, a wonderful array of tropical fruits, including mangos (my personal favorite) and much more.  All was served with a warmth and friendliness to make one feel right at home.  Singleton says he enjoys coming to NC to film mainly because of the people here and our locations.
     In speaking with Los Angeles director Grainger Hines, I learned that he, like Singleton, felt the same way about this cast and crew and went so far as to call them all "phenomenal."  Hines, who is well known for his many acting credits (currently appears in CSI: Miami as Chief James Burton), has been in the movie business for some 30 years and has worked on approximately 30 films and 150 TV shows.  Hines worked with Maxann 12 years ago on a documentary and says he likes filming in NC because he knows the talent here and he loves working with a crew who is "on schedule."  Hines seemed quite impressed as he explained this entire film is being shot in 12 days! Getting on set to meet and speak with Grainger Hines was a wonderful opportunity - and stay tuned because rumor has it Mr. Hines could be back to teach seminars in NC this spring! (
     Actors Robert Rainbolt, Leah Marie Parker, Austin James, Tiffany LeShai, Blaire Welch, Austin Hines, Kelly Ray, and Catori Swann each agreed that this entire cast and crew is like a close family.
     Austin James, who has endured 6 years of "pounding on doors in NC and LA, credits much of his persistence in acting to his dad who used to say, "If you can't imagine yourself doing anything else, then this is the right path for you."
     Catori has also been acting for many years and claims this is his first major role.  He advises, "Humility is very important" as he described the need to be able to accept rejection of one role, while continuing to pursue others.
     Kelly Ray, originally from Gastonia, has been acting most of her life and advises to "never burn bridges" in this business.  She was working out of state and originally auditioned via videotape.  She subsequently received a call back and was booked for the role of party girl,
     Newcomer Blaire Welch plays the role of Cari.  Welch says she is extremely excited to have her first major role in a film.
     This is the first major film role for 
Rainbolt as well.  Rainbolt has been acting in theatre since 1996.  His advice?  "If you love what you're doing, keep doing it."
     Actress Tiffany
LeShai has 22 years experience behind her.  She plays the role of Amber and says, Pay attention when watching this movie because the plot produces many twists and turns! She adds, While playing the role of a fearful character is challenging, method acting is good for me." LeShai also encourages folks by saying, Dream your dream and when you're ready to catch it, live it."  Not only does LeShai feel career growth with this role, but also she says that she is experiencing emotional growth working on this set because of the close relationships being developed.
     Some of these actors auditioned through their agent while others read about the auditions in Reel Carolina or on the Internet.  Parker read about it on the NC hot sheet. She's been studying acting for 5 years and is excited about the "amazing opportunity" her future career now holds for her
     Before heading home, I end my on location visit by taking a tour of the old mill with Maxann Crotts-Harvey.  As we walked along, I listened to Maxann recall the tales of neighbors hearing screams in the night, the wild cries, the infamous rumor of the haunted hand, and so on.
I soon realized that as creepy as all that is, what really stands out is Maxann's passion in telling me her captivating stories about her crew, whom she calls her "multimillion dollar crew."   She's ever so proud of them all as they worked so hard to bring The Mill into its final stages of production  and on such a limited budget.  Maxann went on to explain that that these are professionals who regularly work on multimillion dollar movies, so she was impressed beyond words at what they were willing to do for such a fraction of their usual price on this low budget film.
     They worked with just as much drive and integrity as they would have for the big money, she said, adding that everyone does what they do because they love it. We love this cast and crew.  We have made a new family, and we want to use the same people on our next films."
     One cannot help agree and applaud those involved.  Not only is their collective talent and skill apparent, but also quite noticeable is the humbling manner in which they invite professionalism, individual respect and compassion into this business - a business so often tainted and driven by greed and ego.
     Maxann gives back, too.  She arranged for a masseuse from Charlotte to be on set available for everyone from cast to hairdressers, to stand-ins.  There was no line drawn between jobs - all who worked on her set were treated with as much kindness and professionalism as "the stars" of the show.
     Maxann Crotts-Harvey has plans for film festival release and
theatrical release of The Mill.  She also says, "Producing is meant for me ... I like what I'm doing from beginning to end ..." Working with Ralph Singleton, who she developed a business relationship and friendship with years ago, continues to be an honor for her.
     Although not a fan of horror flicks, I personally look forward to supporting this exciting NC production!
     For more information about The Mill  or for information on upcoming tours of the mill in Landis, NC, be sure to visit Maxann's website at:, or




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