Under the right conditions, Gary Porter's barn is a spooky spot, especially if it is spotted by audiences biting their nails in terror in theaters in the weeks leading up to Halloween 2012.
That's a strong possibility, as the blood-red barn on Bloomingrove Road may play a central role in an upcoming horror film.
Shoot the camera at dusk, cast a faint glow with lights onto the hemlock beams, or capture strands of hay sticking from the nooks in a concrete floor, and voila - the century-old barn may have become Tom Woodruff' Jr.'s ideal location for a scary movie.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Tom Woodruff Jr., a native of the Williamsport area and a movie monster prop man residing in Los Angeles, Calif., takes scouting video with a Canon D5 at the Bloomingrove Road barn of Gary Porter Thursday morning. Woodruff is scouting locations with hopes of shooting a “monster movie” in the area in the future.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Filmmaker Tom Woodruff Jr. takes a break from photographing the former Porter Star Dairy barn, which was a wedding gift handed down by current owner Gary Porter’s grandparents.
"I had planned to demolish it," Porter said Thursday before getting a visit from Woodruff, an Academy Award winner, graduate of Lycoming College and area native - who may have changed his mind.
"I'm going to delay the demolition," said Porter, about an hour or so after the actor-director-producer spied his spread.
Once used for milking dairy cows, the barn now is on a short list of places where Woodruff wants to shoot his next scary film - "Sideshow" - possibly due in theaters in two years.
As he scouted the area, Woodruff snapped photographs of the barn exterior and interior using a high definition-capable camera. It's called scouting and the director searched for old, unloved barns but cautioned they can't be falling down.
"It can't look new," Woodruff said. "It needs to be a simple barn with some substance to it."
Filming here pays homage to his native Lycoming County, said Woodruff, who now lives in Los Angeles, Calif.
Woodruff shared an Oscar for best effects-visual effects with three other colleagues in 1992's "Death Becomes Her," starring Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn.
He said he considered Porter's barn to have the right look for his period-horror film.
Using the week to scout sites to give an authentic feel, reminiscent of Appalachia in the 1930s or Great Depression-era, Woodruff purposefully chose not to divulge too many details about the plot of "Sideshow," but he mentioned there would be "freaks," a doctor and some jolting surprises.
He is hopeful it will be released to theaters in the weeks leading up to Halloween two years from now.
Asked when the film would begin shooting, Woodruff said it depends on finances and timing.
He said it typically can take four to six months to find the proper sites, do pre-production work, such as taking photographs of the barns and landscape to bring back to review. Then, another 1 1/2 months of shooting occurs, followed by several weeks of post-production and editing, he said.
Woodruff's philosophy satisfies movie-goers tired of the "slasher" horror movies consider buying a ticket.
He said he wants to produce and direct a horror movie that builds tension rather than splatters the screen with "in your face" gore.
He'd prefer to keep the movie rated PG-13, rather than R, because he doesn't believe the language and graphic violence of an R-rated movie are necessary to make a scary, successful film.
"We're excited to have Tom visit the area," said Lorena Beniquez, film commissioner of the Central Pennsylvania Film Office, who accompanied Woodruff to review potential places to film the movie.
The local film office connects moviemakers with locations, personnel and support services in the film industry.
Woodruff's filmography reads like a "who's who" in Hollywood.
During a break, he shared how, during a pre-Academy Awards luncheon, he was introduced to Clint Eastwood.
"Clint walks over to our table and says, 'Good work,' '' Woodruff said, thrilled the Hollywood icon appreciated his accomplishments.
Woodruff is recipient of awards given and has been nominated numerous times by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA.
His work appeared in "Aliens 3," "The 6th Day," "Starship Troopers," "The Santa Clause" and "Tremors" - to name a limited few.
Meanwhile, Porter is happy for his barn to be a potential site location for Sideshow.
"I don't know exactly how old it is," Porter said of the structure, estimating it was built at least 100 years ago.
The barn, he said, was a wedding gift handed down by his grandparents. It operated for years as Porter Star Dairy, not unlike the 40-some dairies along Bloomingrove Road.
"My dad was born here," he said.
After speaking with Woodruff, Porter said he would welcome a film crew on the site, provided "they were professional."
"I don't want them to treat it like a carnival site," he said.
Beniquez assured Porter - as did Woodruff - that wouldn't happen.
It's tremendous opportunity, she said, to educate the area about the film industry and to employ local actors and others to perform as "extras," and to hire technicians and service and catering personnel.