Professor Seeks Cast, Crew for Action-Adventure Movie

A William Woods University filmmaking and broadcasting
professor is seeking a cast and crew for “Relics
of the Madre Vena,” a feature-length motion picture he
plans to direct and produce this summer.

Jason Knowles, who joined the WWU faculty last fall, spent
four years researching local histories, legends and folklore of the Ozark
Region to complete his script for this low-budget, non-union, independent
project.  The movie is written in the
same genre as the “Indiana Jones and National Treasure” films, but with several differences that make it unique. It is
intended for a PG-13 audience.
 
“We are seeking dedicated and creative volunteers who have or want experience
in front of the camera to become members of our fun and exciting cast,” Knowles
said.  “Student actors, local talent and professional talent are welcome
to audition.  We are also seeking volunteers to serve as additional crew
members behind the camera.”
 
The film’s story revolves around Maggie Keller, a young
headstrong doctoral student in her early 20s, who must form an untrustworthy
alliance with Hawk, a rival Australian treasure hunter, when her best friend is
kidnapped by a dangerous band of tomb robbers.
 
Following clues in an 1830 Arkansas treasure legend, she uncovers
a mysterious Viking connection to the American Civil War. With the villains hot
on their trail, Maggie and Hawk race through ghost towns, caves, lost
cemeteries and urban undergrounds to solve more cryptic clues and stop the real
source of the mystery from falling into the wrong hands.
 
 “I wanted to make this
movie with elements you wouldn’t normally expect to see in typical
action-adventure films,” Knowles explained. “We do have some really cool stunts
and visual effects planned. However, the story will focus more on the emotional
conflicts the characters face between each other and within themselves. There
will definitely be a few plot and character twists that will throw the audience
for a loop.”
                                                          
But while the fictional movie will attempt to entertain
audiences with thrilling action, screwball comedy and some dramatic moments,
the real fun for Knowles has been recent discoveries in his research for the
script.
 
“There’s a good chance I may have located one of the actual sources
of the Madre Vena legend,” he says. 
Knowles is currently working with several historical societies and the
Nature Conservancy to verify the existence of these findings.
 
According to the legend, four Mexican miners in 1830 hid a
huge cache of gold and silver ore in a natural cave somewhere on the
Arkansas-Missouri border. One of the miners – Manuel Alarcón – murdered the
three others to keep the cache a secret, then wandered the Ozarks for more than
30 years in a severe dementia. The cave was reportedly rediscovered and
excavated several times over the following decades by other treasure hunters,
until a landslide covered its entrance in the mid-1960s.
 
For Knowles, finding the graves of the three murdered miners
– or even Alarcón’s grave in the Pierce City area, where he was rumored to have
died – would be enough to verify part of the legend. The filmmaking professor
intends to shoot a smaller second film – a short documentary – that will
investigate the truth behind the myths if such evidence comes to light.
 
“I always try to make my fictional films incorporate as many
real facts as possible. Realism helps modern movies appear more believable to
an audience, which makes them more entertaining.” Knowles said. “But it’s also
good to throw some cheesy fantasy elements into the mix to balance things.
Instead of a bullwhip, expect to see a boomerang.”
 
Audition sessions for “Relics of the Madre Vena” can only be scheduled by appointment
with Knowles and his production team from now until July 1. Most auditions will
be held on the William Woods University campus in Fulton.

“I really hope this project will help both the university’s filmmaking program
and myself as a movie professional to build more connections with the
mid-Missouri business community. We also want to collaborate with other local
filmmakers and artists to build networks for future productions.”

 
For more information, or to schedule an audition, contact
Knowles at (573) 592-4336 or Jason.knowles@williamwoods.edu.