Bay Area filmmaker casts neighbors in pandemic movie project

While the pandemic shut many businesses down last year and separated everyone, a New Tampa filmmaker saw it as an opportunity to launch a creative project that brought his neighbors together in the Grand Hampton community near the Hillsborough/Pasco County line.

"I took my son out last year and just started shooting something outside," explained Antony Capers, a filmmaker, who was also shut down by the pandemic.

He had a rough idea for a web series he wanted to shoot but didn't have anyone to help him until his curious neighbors started showing an interest. So he put them to work.

"He offered me a role, and I wasn't sure what it would be, but he said he was going to write it. So I was like, okay, I'll try this out," commented neighbor Dana Pinney. 

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Pinney did not have any acting experience but was thrilled at the opportunity to try something new. Now, she's one of a handful of stars in "Grand Hampton; The Movie," a web series on YouTube, which is in its second season. It is a fictional story named after the community in which everything is produced, shot and edited.

Sandu Lopez, Pinney’s co-star for the scene that FOX 13 was invited to watch, met Capers in the community gym.

"He came up to me and said, ‘Hey I have a role for you. You look good for it.' So, I said sure," Lopez explained.

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Nicole Riber is another neighbor who was cast in the film.

"I'd never done anything like this before but it's been a lot of fun to see how it all works," Riber shared. "My kids have gotten involved and now they want to make movies too. So it's been a great creative project for them."

The fact that none of them had any professional acting experience didn't bother Capers in the least. 

"I can see their character, so I just give them the appropriate lines and a little bit of delivery skill, they kill it. They've all been amazing," he said. 

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But bigger than their performances and all the clicks and views of the episodes online is a newfound neighborhood bond. 

"Friendships have been forged and made through this," said Annette Simmons Brown, who has a lead role in several episodes. Brown, like Elizabeth O'Brien and others, have really enjoyed seeing Capers make his vision come to life. 

"I think it's a personal gift and one day I hope he moves on and succeeds," she commented.

LINK: Watch "Grand Hampton: The Movie" on YouTube at


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