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CASEY: Movie shot in Roanoke premieres on cable Saturday night

CASEY: Movie shot in Roanoke premieres on cable Saturday night

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Dylan Vox has been a busy guy since May, when he last graced the pages of this newspaper. Back then, the lawyer-turned-moviemaker was directing a made-for-TV movie based loosely on the novel “Rebecca,” by Daphne du Maurier.

It’s titled “Dirty Little Deeds,” and most of it was shot right here in Roanoke. Among the stars is a local landmark, Rockledge Mansion, owned by Drs. Kevin and Nancy Dye.

The low-budget movie will premiere on the Lifetime Movie Network at 8 p.m. Saturday. And the mansion on Mill Mountain is hardly the only familiar sight Roanoke residents may find in the film.

Look closely and you might spot Bridge Street in southwest Roanoke’s Norwich neighborhood, or the Grandin Village business district, or Belle Gardens Estate in Wirtz. Beliveau Farm Winery, which is along Mount Tabor Road in the Catawba Valley east of Blacksburg, also makes an appearance.

“It’s been crazy busy,” Vox told me Monday from Los Angeles when I caught up with him by phone. “We’re getting ready to come back to Roanoke,” for another shoot. (More about that is below.)

The description of his daily work life sounds like an understatement. Since Vox called “cut” on filming “Dirty Little Deeds” in Roanoke last spring, he said he’s shot at least three more low-budget movies in Mississippi and Colorado.

One is “A Furry Little Christmas” for the television channel UPtv. Premiering Dec. 5, it’s about a New York City veterinarian who falls in love with a small-town Vermont physician.

Another one, for Tubi TV, is “Tales of a Fifth Grade Robin Hood.” It’s about a young inner-city student who discovers the assistant principal at his public school has stolen school funds, which the kid steals back. Actor-comedian Jon Lovitz plays the assistant principal.

And then there’s “My Stolen Life,” which Vox and crew shot in Mississippi. It’s a drama about a mentally ill young woman who flees a psychiatric hospital after a visit by her identical twin sister.

With all that going on, it’s no wonder Vox has trouble keeping all of them straight. At his pace, he needs to focus on what’s upcoming rather than movies already made. Which brings us to a film currently titled “Revenge.”

Vox is shooting that in Roanoke as well, during most of the month of December. He and the crew expect to be staying at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood during that time.

I didn’t get the plot details on “Revenge,” but it’ll feature plenty of local sites, too. Vox is hoping to get permission to shoot on Roanoke College’s campus in Salem, at the Roanoke Country Club, and Valhalla Vineyards in Roanoke County.

“We’re still auditioning,” Vox said. “We’re having callbacks this afternoon.” It’s not impossible, he added, that some of the same cast from “Dirty Little Deeds” will wind up in “Revenge.” But that may not be its final title.

Vox, who told me in May that he was 40, was an infant when his father and mother adopted him and brought their newborn to the Roanoke Valley. He attended Penn Forest Elementary and Cave Spring Middle schools before the family moved to Atlanta, where he graduated high school. After his parents split up, he said, his mother moved back to Roanoke.

He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Georgia, then an MBA, followed by a law degree from Pepperdine University. Because he hated working in law, he’s been working in movies ever since.

That career first brought him back to the Star City a little more than four years ago, when he was producing a movie for cable-TV’s SciFi Channel. At that time, his mother was living here and suffering from terminal cancer. Vox moved the shooting location to Roanoke, so he could spend time with her as he worked.

“Dirty Little Deeds” was the third movie he shot locally this year. The other two were “A Party Gone Wrong” and “Secrets of Sorority Row.” The latter included scenes shot at Sweet Briar College. One or the other of them also includes scene at the Hotel Roanoke and the Jefferson Center.

The Dyes donated the use of Rockledge after they heard Vox was looking for a an ornate mansion for “Dirty Little Deeds.” Assisting him in arranging for the mansion was one of his production assistants for the movie, Sandra Hillen. She’s a former pro snowboarder, and her brother is married to the Dyes’ niece.

Vox told me there may be a watch party Saturday night, if he and crew can arrange one through the Holiday Inn Tanglewood, or persuade the Grandin Theatre to give it a showing.

Just to be clear, the Lifetime Movie Network is distinct from another similarly named channel — Lifetime. “Dirty Little Deeds” will appear at 8 p.m. Saturday on the former. It’s channel 309 if you subscribe to Cox Contour’s movie package, or 1309 if you subscribe to high-definition channels.

And if you spot some moviemakers filming scenes around here in December, there’s a good chance it’ll be for “Revenge.”

In that case, you might want to give Dylan Vox and his crew a wave.

“We really love working in Roanoke,” he told me.

Contact metro columnist Dan Casey at 981-3423 or dan.casey@roanoke.com. Follow him on Twitter:.

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Dan Casey knows a little bit about a lot of things but not a heck of a lot about most things. That doesn't keep him from writing about them, however. So keep him honest!

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