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Pawhuska native appears in new feature film ‘Pruning the Family Tree’

While “August: Osage County” is premiering soon at Cannes, most people aren’t as familiar with another movie premiering August 4 in Bartlesville that was filmed in the same area.

This one, however, features a native of Pawhuska in one of the leading roles. A five-year baton twirler and 1996 graduate, Jeana Kelley-Farrar, now a resident of Hallett, Okla., is expanding her resume to include feature film actress. Last year Farrar and her daughter, Taylor Farrar, travelled to Bartlesville to audition for a role in “Pruning the Family Tree.” She not only was cast in a part, she landed a leading role as one of the four central female characters in the movie. Taylor is a featured extra.

“She wasn’t nervous when she came to the audition, and she was really natural on camera,” says the film’s director and co-producer, Fritz Green. “So far, it’s clear we made the right decision,” he adds with a smile. “She’s doing extremely well, and blowing us away with her professionalism and talent.”

Born and raised in Pawhuska, Farrar attended OSU for a short time after graduating in 1996. She later attended Kaplan University, majoring in Paralegal studies, and then worked as a legal assistant for 10 years in Tulsa. In 2008, Farrar opened Cleveland Kiddie Corral, a daycare center in Cleveland, Okla. While now technically a Tiger, she still considers herself a Husky at heart.

“I always hate when Cleveland plays games against Pawhuska because it is really hard for me to route for Cleveland. I am trying though, since Taylor is a Tiger cheerleader.”

A collaboration of Bartlesville filmmakers are producing the movie, which is adapted from Bartian playwright Dan Gordon’s award-winning play, also titled “Pruning the Family Tree,” a family drama sprinkled with dark comedy.

According the representatives of production company SevenDreams Films, LLC, filming began July 21, 2012 in Bartlesville and continued through mid-December. A special reception celebrating the film’s upcoming release, followed by a complimentary screening of the film, is scheduled for August 4, at the Bartlesville Community Center. Tickets to this special reception are $10 per person and are available from the BCC Box Office, 918-336-2787 or online. All proceeds benefit the Bartlesville Community Center.

To keep up with the production, including viewing photos from the set and notes from cast and crew, follow the movie at www.facebook.com/pruningthefamilytree and www.pruningthefamilytree.com.

After the first day of filming, Jeana expressed amazement at the effort that goes into a feature film production. “I had such a great time filming yesterday,” she posted on the official movie Facebook page. “Everyone was hot, tired and hungry, but not a single person complained,” says Farrar. “That is impressive! I learned a lot and I am amazed at how much planning and manpower it takes to bring it all together. The more I hang around [with the cast and crew], the more I am humbled. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be in this film. Everyone is having fun with it and makes it really comfortable instead of scary.”

Screenwriter Gordon (“Little White Lies”, “It Feels Like Monday”) adapted his popular play, also titled “Pruning the Family Tree” into the screenplay, which tells the story of four damaged women forced to confront the material and emotional wreckage left in the wake of the sudden and unexpected death of their abusive and philandering patriarch while wryly attempting to put both his remains and his memory to rest.

As a playwright, Gordon has published six plays in addition to “Pruning the Family Tree”, which was a finalist in the 1998 Eugene O’ Neil Center National Playwrights Conference and also won the Tulsa Heller Theatre’s 1998 new play competition. His plays have been staged in venues throughout the United States, and “Pruning the Family Tree” was recently translated into Polish for a successful production in Warsaw. Most recently, Bartlesville audiences enjoyed the production in February at the Bartlesville Community Center, though Farrar was not part of that production. “The show is a triumph for Bartlesville playwright Daniel Gordon,” wrote Tulsa World Staff Writer Michael Smith of the Heller Theater production, who called the play a “wonderfully moving drama…not to be missed”.

Bartian filmmaker Fritz Green (“Every Hidden Thing”, 2009) is helming the production as director. “Every Hidden Thing”, a feature movie Green wrote, produced and directed, won four major prizes when it premiered at the Script-2-Screen Film Festival in Tulsa, OK in September, 2009, including Best Feature Film and Audience Favorite. Green is veteran theater actor and director with Theater Bartlesville and the Terrace Level Players, which produced the recent production of the stage play, and has received eight awards for acting, directing and set design in theater.

The film also stars Bartlesville actress Renee Michaels of Bartlesville, (“The Dellville Witch”, 2009), Dawn Christie (“The Flight that Fought Back”, 2005) and Shelby Lynn (“Neighbors Across The Way”, 2011), both from Broken Arrow, OK.

Michaels portrayed the role of Ellen in “Pruning the Family Tree” on stage earlier this year and will reprise the role for the movie. Michaels, who has performed many roles for stage and camera, in addition to adapting and directing the feature film “The Death of Kevin Frye”, was also the recipient of the 2010 Lois J Weber Award, which honors Women in Film. She is also serving as a producer and second assistant director on the film production.

Christie, who is playing the matriarch Marilyn Casey, is an experienced actress who has made Los Angeles her home for the past seven years. She attended both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Arlington and performed as an actress and dancer in Dallas before making the jump to Hollywood. She was one of the starring cast members of the Emmy-nominated “The Flight That Fought Back”, and she has worked on numerous films, commercials and even a reality show.

Lynn, who is cast as the granddaughter Christy, has been acting for almost 13 years, beginning in theater and then making the transition into her true passion, acting for film, four years ago. She has also modeled for four years as well. Lynn’s combined acting and dancing talents led her to a starring role in a recent music video by Nashville Recording Artist Christian Simmons “Anywhere That Isn’t Here.”. “Pruning The Family Tree” is her fourth full-length feature.

The cast also includes features Mark Brant, James Bowie, Kelley Goodall, Anne Reburn, Rob Boyd, Susan Burris, Michael Bush, Kevin Mnich, Maria Gus, Kris Brost, Ray Reed, Shane Jewel, Warren Mayer, Lela Hills, April Russell, Donnie Hampton, Lisa Welch, LaDonna Owen, Louella Hopkins, Melissa Phillips, Nancy Smith, Karie Fountain, Jami Harris, Kathy Stewart, Mark Beckwith, Wes Martin, and Kelvin Carrington.

Award-winning cinematographer James “C-Man” Veit (“The Death of Kevin Frye”) has been tapped as Director of Photography, and Jason Eaton is the Sound Recordist. Veit, Eaton and Green recently collaborated with Gordon and Michaels on the short film “Keep You” (2011), which won Best Cinematography at the 48-Hour Film Project competition in Oklahoma City.

The movie production of “Pruning the Family Tree” is produced by Gordon, Green, Michaels, Jason Eaton, Melissa Green, and Tina Gordon.

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