Brian Ceponis and Christina Krakowski met at the massacre academy and recently reunited in a den of wolves.
Let’s back up for a second. The two Western Pennsylvania-based actors met for the first time a few years ago on the set of “Massacre Academy,” a locally shot slasher written and directed by McKeesport resident Mark Cantu. Krakowski played coed Becca, while Ceponis embodied both police Capt. Mattigan and Carnie the killer clown.
Last summer, Krakwoski and Ceponis had the opportunity to work with Cantu again on his latest project: “Wolf Hollow,” which finds a group of filmmakers on a scouting trip in rural Pennsylvania having to fight for their lives when they accidentally stumble across a family of werewolves. It was mostly shot in McKeesport and at Haunted Hills Hayride in North Versailles, and it will be screening Saturday at Dormont’s Hollywood Theater.
Tickets for the “Wolf Hollow” premiere are available for $25 via eventbrite.com. Krakowski described her latest film as a “roller coaster of blood, gore and excitement.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” she told the Union Progress. “I can’t wait for people to finally see what we’ve been working on and what we’ve been able to pull together. It’s going to be really cool.”
Ceponis is the co-founder of Pittsburgh-based production company RedSlate Films. Though he works fairly prolifically as an actor on independent films being shot in the area, “Massacre Academy” was his first time acting in a horror movie. Since then, he’s been a part of four locally made horror flicks, including “Wolf Hollow.”
“I don’t know if I’m being typecasted or not,” he quipped. “Do I look like a killer?”
Krakowski is currently in the process of relocating to Atlanta, though she plans on splitting time between Georgia and Western Pennsylvania. Last year, she wrote and directed the short film “Extinguished” and acted in a few other shorts before immersing herself in “Wolf Hollow.”
After making “Massacre Academy,” Cantu began asking himself how he wanted to continue evolving as a filmmaker while also providing fun parts for some of his favorite collaborators such as Krakowski and Ceponis. His films always come from a personal place, so he wanted his next one to also “resonate with me on a deeper level.”
“The obvious answer was to stay in the horror genre,” Cantu said. “Oddly enough, the passionate voice in my head screamed at me, ‘Do werewolves you dummy!’ After I stopped being offended, I realized a werewolf movie was the perfect vehicle to show our growth and tell a brand-new exciting horror tale.”
“Wolf Hollow” follows Krakowski’s Alex Romero, a producer-turned-werewolf-hunter. Ceponis plays Bart, the head of the werewolf pack antagonizing Alex and her crew. Krakowski said she was on board for “Wolf Hollow” before Cantu had even finished the script.
“I really liked the idea of stepping into a role that was almost opposite of what I played in ‘Massacre Academy,’” she said. “Alex is more a leader, strong and kind of badass. She’s kicking butt, taking names, and fighting anyone and everyone. It was nice to be able to portray that and show a little more range.”
Cantu is one of Ceponis’ favorite directors to work with thanks to his knack for “bringing together the best [actors] he can find” and “putting together an entertaining story visually.” Krakowski also enjoys being on a Cantu-run set. She said he “gives me a lot of freedom as an actor” while also generally knowing “when to rein things in when needed.”
For now, Saturday’s “Wolf Hollow” event will be the only way for yinzers to check out a film that contains what Ceponis said was a “step up” in production values from “Massacre Academy.” Blu-ray and DVD copies of the film will be available there, as will an augmented reality experience provided by virtual reality company Awegmented.
Moviegoers will get to see both Ceponis and Krakowksi together on screen again. Krakowski joked that it has “been a joy to kick his butt multiple times” across two films. Ceponis agreed that it has, in fact, been a pleasure to let Krakowski knock his characters down a peg in service of an enjoyable time at the movies.
“In ‘Wolf Hollow,’ she’s kicking everyone’s butt,” Ceponis said. “It’s fun to watch.”