MASSENA -- A Massena man has started a local acting society, trying to unite area actors, filmmakers and movie enthusiasts.
Elijah Winfrey, an actor who is directing a sci-fi film being entirely shot in Massena, founded the North Country Acting Society in July 2013.
"When we started this whole thing I just wanted a way for creative people in this area to know they were not alone. Looking back its funny to think how something so minute develops so quickly," he said of the organization, which now has 34 members. He says they hail from all over St. Lawrence County, including Massena, Rensselaer Falls, Norwood, Akwesasne, Potsdam, Brasher Falls and the Madrid-Waddington area.
He says group members are involved in five films being shot right now in the area between Watertown and Plattsburgh.
"When you really think about it there is no reason that this area cannot be like a mini Hollywood if we do this right," Winfrey said. "When you look at the fact that you have a performing arts school [at] SUNY Potsdam and all the arts that happen right across our border, you can begin to see how this could work."
Winfrey said the organization will network with the Massena Boys and Girls Club, set to launch in the fall, to engage youth in acting and movie-making.
"The children are our future. Without their participation in this group 10 to 15 years down the road there won't be a society," he said. "So it is vital for our group to join with the Boys and Girls Club and tap into these children's excitement for the arts."
Winfrey has also joined the effort to revitalize the former Schine's Theater.
"I think it is important, when plausible, to do everything and anything we can to preserve our history for future generations to see and enjoy," he said.
He said the acting society is governed by a board and they've mad a goal to host three events per year, an awards show to honor local talent, a film festival and a local comic con, which they held on Aug. 2 in Massena.
Winfrey said joining the North Country Acting Society is free. Go to the group's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NorthCountryActingSociety and click "like." Also send a message with contact information. They meet once per month at Star Tech Computers on East Orvis Street in Massena. The meetings are only open to society members.