Produced by Chel Tassey, Rob Tassey, Kim Stryker, Christy Lee Taylor and Barbara S. Lee
Stuart, Boynton teenagers to star in a family-friendly movie to be filmed in Jupiter

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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"Let's all say it together," said Frank Eberling. "Saving the planet, one turkle at a time! That's our motto. And we're here to make history!"

That's how Eberling, producer/writer/director of a new film that starts shooting next month in north Palm Beach County, addressed members of the media and various supporters at a press conference Friday morning at Burt Reynolds' Institute for Film & Theatre in Jupiter.

The media reps from various newspapers and television stations obliged, shouting out the film's catch-phrase with cast and crew members jammed onto the small stage in the middle of a room crammed with awards and memorabilia from actor Burt Reynolds' 50-year film career.

The film is titled "Turkles," and stars two feisty teenagers. One is Haley Sicard of Stuart and the other is Noah Centineo of Boynton Beach, who just completed a film in Hollywood with Steve Guttenberg titled "Gold Retrievers." Both are 13.

"Turkles" is about a group of kids who join forces at Camp Loggerhead to find out who is stealing turtle eggs from the nests. Local actors and filmmakers are joining forces this summer to produce this family-friendly movie, set in Juno Beach and Jupiter. It will use about 20 adult actors from BRIFT and Reynolds' master acting classes conducted there, plus several other acting classes in the area.

As camp counselors, Jenn (Sicard) and David (Centineo) head up a group of younger kids determined to solve the mystery of the stolen turtle eggs.

Raiding the turtle nests is against the law in Florida, and the kids encounter a group of adult knuckleheaded poachers similar to "the gang that couldn't shoot straight." The poachers steal the eggs to be sold for great profit in the underground black market for delicacies, vitamin enhancement or mystical medicinal purposes.

The detective story begins for the young sleuths, as they and their friends decide they are going to catch the poachers, even if it means sneaking out of their homes in the middle of the night.

Sicard, entering eighth grade at Hidden Oaks Middle School in Palm City, took a 10-week Master Acting Class with Reynolds. The tenacious little blonde with bouncy curls and braces studied voice, dancing and acting since she was 5½ years old, said her father Steve Sicard.

"When she was only 3 or 4, my wife Cindy and I were sitting on our family room floor playing with Haley in front of the television set. She kept pointing at the set and saying, ‘that's what I want to do, Daddy.' We knew very soon after that she had a gift for performing and would not stop until she succeeded," Sicard said.

Steve and Cindy Sicard always supported Haley in whatever she wanted to do, as long as she followed through and finished what she started to completion, he said.

"She can't be a quitter," he said. "Just because things get tough."

"If "Turkles" makes her a big star, we can handle that," he said. "I just told her never to forget where she came from and don't lose sight of her morals and the gifts God gave her. We can handle famous just fine."

Where does the "Turkle" term come from? "One of the camp kids has a severe speech impediment making him a near mute," Eberling said. "He has only one word of dialogue in the entire movie, when he tries to say "turtles," it comes out, "turkles."

"This is a heartwarming story," Eberlingsaid, "filled with Florida's natural beauty both above and below the water, surprising off-beet humor and some really neat characters and partially based on true events that have happened in the Jupiter area."

The film is produced through the "generosity" of Burt Reynolds and BRIFT, the auspices of The Motion Picture and Television Department of Palm Beach Community College, where Eberling taught filmmaking classes for 10 years and Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach. PBCC student interns will earn college credit while working on the set.

Besides Eberling, other producers of the film are Rob and Chel Tassey, Kim Stryker, Christy Lee Taylor and her mother Barbara Lee,

Principal photography will begin July 13. Eberling said he hopes to finish by the time students return to school in late August. A "G like" rating will be sought.

"Turkles" will be shot inexpensively, with a small crew, moving rapidly from location to location. This work style comes naturally to Eberling who spent his career shooting documentary films.

"We'll be well-rehearsed and traveling light," he said, ,"to Jetty's in Jupiter, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the Juno Beach Pier and a spot we found on the Intracoastal to be a fake beach setting for night shooting, since we can't disturb the turtles at night."