Hometown Cast: Poplarville film “Max Peril” now available on DVD

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2016

Local cast: Cast members of “Max Peril” during Tuesday’s DVD release party.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

Local cast: Cast members of “Max Peril” during Tuesday’s DVD release party.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

Tuesday, many of Poplarville’s residents attended the highly anticipated star-studded DVD release party of Frank Ladner’s “Max Peril,” held at Dimples restaurant.
After guests purchased the film, they were afforded the opportunity to have the DVD signed by some of the film’s cast including, Buddy Moody, who plays the lead character Max Peril, Mark Forte, Sonny Howard, Mary Etta Moody, David Howard and Ladner.
Ladner said he was pleased with the party’s turnout.
“Poplarville has been very supportive of us,” he said.
“Max Peril” is a mockumentary about a filmmaker named Riley, played by Ladner, who, as he nears his 30th birthday, realizes the films he’s made thus far are half completed.
During his search for the film’s content, Riley meets Max Peril, a veteran and retired secret service agent.
The movie was filmed entirely in Poplarville and Ladner used local people for his actors.
“Having hometown folks in a mockumentary is absolutely the way to go,” Ladner said. “It’s interesting because actors usually can’t pull off ‘documentary-style’ acting. When you’re watching a standard film, you’ve got the whole suspension of disbelief thing, which means you accept it as a movie and are onboard with feigned emotion and acting. But with a mockumentary, although people know it’s fiction, it still has to feel like a documentary, which means it really can’t be acted. Non-actors tend to not throw in all the voice inflections, hand gestures and fake pauses.”
Sonny Howard portrays five different characters in Max Peril including a Russian, British and a Mexican waiter. He also starred in Ladner’s first film, “Hickory Never Bleeds.”
“I’m a movie buff and never thought I’d be in one,” he said. “This is way better than what Hollywood puts out. There’s no pressure, you’re getting to have fun and we do it because we love doing it.”
Mark Forte also plays three different characters, including El Duro Blanco, the Albino Mexican. But it was Ladner’s magnetic personality that drew Forte to the film.
“You look forward to it,” Forte said. “I studied radio, television and films at USM but never dreamed I’d act, but operate a camera. The film is something we all conceived, built and brought to fruition. Frank makes it fun. We don’t do retakes, he tells me what he wants then I say it.”
Mary Etta Moody also starred in Ladner’s first film and has acted on the stage in some capacity she since was in the second grade.
“We had a ball,” she said. “There was not a minute you didn’t stop laughing. Frank is so giving and kind.”
David Howard portrays Cowboy. He performed many of the film’s pyrotechnic stunts. He also starred in Ladner’s first movie and said he is proud to be a part of the films.
This was Buddy Moody’s first film role, but said he and Ladner have been friends for many years.
“He knew I was a Vietnam veteran and we always carry on humorous stuff,” he said. “This film is a tribute to Ladner. He’s so talented, like a hidden gem. Max Peril is not like anything you’ve seen.”
Ladner said he based “Max Peril” on his struggles with filmmaking, which he began dabbling in at age 11. However, it wasn’t until after he turned 30 that he completed his first feature film.
“By that time, I probably should have had gotten a handful out of my system,” Ladner said. “One theme is that time moves quickly. I’d also like other filmmakers to realize you don’t need as much to make films as you’d think.”
Ladner is currently planning a third film. This time it will be a suspense, shot in a more traditional cinematic narrative form, he said. He is planning to work with a couple of professional actors but being specific enough to ensure he can cast people capable of portraying an authentic southern character, Ladner said.
Ladner has taken “Max Peril” to about 16 film festivals and the movies has won seven awards including three for Best Picture at Festival South in Hattiesburg, Sun and Sand on the Gulf Coast and Rails to Reels in Meridian.
Learn more about the films through Facebook at Max Peril and Hickory Never Bleeds.
Copies of both Ladner’s films can be purchased at www.amazon.com.

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