Associate Professor of Theatre at Murray State University, Daryl Phillipy, was recently cast in two independent films, both of which are now available for streaming. Phillipy speaks with Tracy Ross about his roles and the auditioning and filming process.
"David Balthrop, the dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and the new chair, Brent, they've always been supportive of us when we want to do something artistic that may conflict with class schedules," Phillipy begins. "It just turned out that both projects, neither of them ended up conflicting with my class schedule, so I was able to teach and act in these films. That turned out really, really great."
Phillipy plays a police officer in the 2020 horror film Star Light, directed by Mitchell Altieri and Lee Cummings. "We started filming in October of 2017," Phillipy says. "They were doing local auditions here on the Murray State University campus. My colleague, Lisa Graham Schneider, was instrumental in doing some of the casting for the extras in the film. She's actually credited in the end credits for it. There's also a really nice shout out in the credits thanking the university."
"All the action takes place in a small western Kentucky town. Everybody in Mayfield was really great about helping with the film as far as logistics and giving support to the production company. I was wearing a Mayfield policeman's uniform. My acting partner and I, we come across a mysterious accident. We start investigating it, and we end up meeting a demon figure." The police officers' end, Phillipy laughs, "is not very good."
"Right after I finished that project in December of 2017, there was a notice in the Hopkinsville paper," he continues. The notice was a casting call for The Silent Natural, a biographical film about one of the most accomplished deaf ball players in Major League history, William Hoy. Although the production team of The Silent Natural was only looking for extras, Phillipy says the producer contacted him in January of 2018 to read for a part. When offered two different toles, one of a journalist and a baseball player, Phillipy chose the latter.
"That was real exciting, because the teammate I played, his name was Tom Lovett. I was able to find him on Google and do some research on the character. It was just kind of neat to play somebody who was actually a teammate of William Hoy and, by all accounts, was a pretty good friend with him. That informed a lot of the scene work that we did in the film."
Although William Hoy isn't currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame, his impact on the game is still felt today. "The signs that we see in baseball today, particularly the call for the balls and strikes, those were developed for the benefit of William Hoy so he could at least know what the count was when he was at bat."
"His career batting average is well over 280. He's number 14, I believe, on the all-times steal list. He was a center fielder [and] had a really great arm. He was one of the very few players to have assists from the outfield throwing out base runners going home. He was a defensively gifted ball player, a hitting ball player, and fast. It was fun to work on that biographical picture. The baseball players we meet in the film, those are all historical ball players," Phillipy says.
The Silent Natural, directed by David Risotto, was partly produced by the Southern Kentucky Film Commission, Phillipy explains. "We used to have really great tax incentives for film companies to come to Kentucky to film. We were trying to rival what's going on down in Georgia as far as filmmaking here in the South. Those tax incentives were cut by the previous governor, and hopefully, Governor Beshear will restore those tax incentives so we can get that going again."
Both The Silent Natural and Star Light were presented at independent film festivals and picked up by national distribution companies, "which doesn't always happen with independent films," Phillipy says. Both films are available now on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google Play, Youtube, and Voodoo.