Go behind the scenes of “No Postage Necessary,” an independent dramedy filmed in Plant City.
A yellow bus sat outside of a Plant City school Monday, Aug. 1. Across the street, students in the grass stood clutching their backpacks and bicycles. Cars pulled in and out of the parking lot.
Hillsborough County schools didn’t start for over a week. The school was being used as a set, and the students were extras in independent film “No Postage Necessary.”
“No Postage Necessary” is part of actress and Plant City native Charleene Closshey’s latest endeavor. The film is being shot in Hillsborough County and features Plant City talent and businesses.
“All but two days of it are filmed in Plant City,” Production Support Coordinator Yvonne Fry said. “We’re utilizing local businesses and talent.”
Small Town Charm
Like the town it’s being filmed in, “No Postage Necessary” is full of quirks.
With a tagline of “Love, Letters and Computer Hackers,” the indie flick follows Sam, a computer hacker played by “Versailles” star George Blagden, who gets caught and is banned from using the internet. Forced to work at a fast food restaurant, Sam begins stealing mail to make ends meet. He finds a letter written by Josie (Charleene Closshey), a war widow, to her dead husband. The two eventually meet and bond, until Sam’s checkered past catches up with him.
As Fry puts it, it’s the tale of a computer “hacktivist” who falls in love with a war widow under an ice cream cone.
Plant City residents who watch the movie will notice big names — from Blagden and Charleene Closshey to Golden Globe winner Michael Beach and Robbie Kay from “Once Upon a Time.”
The first day of filming took place outside of the Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds. Future scenes will be shot at Winn-Dixie, around Historic Downtown Plant City and at Twistee Treat.
Charleene Closshey’s mother and “No Postage Necessary” producer, Dr. Jennifer Closshey, attributes Plant City’s supportive community to making the town the perfect filming location. Prior to the start of filming, Hillsborough County Commissioners approved an incentive of up to $25,000 for the production of the movie.
“We’ve done other (films), but this is the first time we’ve done it in the state of Florida,” Jennifer Closshey said. “We have so many wonderful features here in Florida that have been unutilized.”
Before settling on Plant City, producers, along with director Jeremy Culver, considered locations in Alabama and Mississippi.
“When we looked at incentives, Mississippi had better incentives,” Jennifer Closshey said. “But when it comes to
intrinsic factors, Plant City had the community support. Look at all these wonderful extras.”
The Plant City community has rallied around the film. Fred’s Southern Kitchen catered the first day of filming. Local shops, including Southern Hospitality, provided props and decor for the film. Florida Strawberry Festival Queen’s Court member Ashtyn Steele serves as a stand in for Charleene Closshey.
Residents have lined up to be extras in the indie feature. On Aug. 1, Lisa Joye-Rhodes and her son, 10-year-old Tyler Goethals, waited for filming to begin.
“Yvonne (Fry) posted about the movie on Facebook, and I thought it’d be fun,” Joye-Rhodes said.
She didn’t tell Tyler until two days before the first day of filming.
“I’m hoping I get to ride my bike in it,” Tyler said. He had his bike washed before filming started.
Joye-Rhodes and Tyler aren’t the only Plant City residents to grace the set of the movie. Members of locally-based Fresh Picked Talent and Next Radical Generation can be found assisting with the cast and crew.
“It’s a collaborative effort,” Jennifer Closshey said. “I’m really excited we have so many employees and extras from Hillsborough County and Plant City.”
“No Postage Necessary” will have at least two more weeks of filming in Plant City. The movie is set for a mid-2017 release.
Contact Emily Topper at [email protected].