Bathed in palm trees and scenic waterfront vistas, Tampa is not the typical spot used as a stand-in for a Rocky Mountains movie location.
But two independent filmmakers with ties to Hillsborough County made it work.
Sean Malone and Timothy Compton have recreated H.G. Wells’ classic novel “The Invisible Man’’ into a five-part web series set in present-day America. Produced by their company, Waterfoot Films, the web series
was filmed in Tampa, North Carolina and Colorado over a 15-month period.
“We really couldn’t have done it without a couple of businesses that helped us out,” Malone says. “The Frontier Cattleman’s Steakhouse
on Sligh Avenue near I-275 let us shoot our saloon scenes there. The other was Behind the Fence Bread and Breakfast in Brandon.
“Even though the series takes place in Colorado, we shot a good part of it in Tampa.”
The two former University of Miami film students hatched the idea to turn the classic story into a modern-day adaptation after watching the 1933 original movie about five years ago. But their creative collaborations date back years before then.
Malone and Compton both attended Florida College
in Temple Terrace. Although they were on campus several years apart, it was that connection and a mutual interest in filmmaking that brought them together.
During Malone’s eight years in Tampa, he also taught at the University of Tampa
. Compton, who lived here four years, earned his bachelor’s degree at UT.
Malone, 33, now lives in Los Angeles, and Compton, 30, calls Chicago home, but their long distance partnership has produced numerous award-winning short films.
They attributed much of the success of producing “The Invisible Man’’ to the supporters of their Kickstarter fundraising campaign.
“A lot of people who helped us out in Kickstarter was from Florida and particularly Tampa,” Malone says.
The creative duo reintroduced The Invisible Man as a cinematic work that reflect both men’s different approach to the genre. Malone emphasized the classic Hollywood feel. Compton saw the film as an intense thriller.
“Sean (Malone) is a very talented cinematographer, so the snowy Colorado vistas are gorgeous,” says Lucy Griggs of JL Art House Productions
in Tampa. “He and Tim (Compton) write suspenseful, moving films that portray the struggle between self and other, power and belonging.”
The main character, Griffin, portrayed by actor Johnny Hightower of Tampa, is a creepy anti-hero with issues. The film leaves viewers to decide whether the mad scientist is just crazy or are his actions a result of the personal experimentation.
Following a special screening in Tampa in October, the web series now is available on YouTube and expected to be released on DVD by the beginning of the year.