by Edwin L. Carpenter, Film Reviews Editor
Kevin Sizemore has been making movies for a long time now. His first stint was as a basketball player in Matlock. Kevin spoke with us at The Dove Foundation recently and told us that two of his biggest thrills were working with the late Andy Griffith and also Dick Van Dyke, when Kevin guest starred in a role in the TV series Diagnosis Murder. Kevin recently attended the premiere of A Christmas Tree Miracle in his home state of West Virginia and seemed very grateful for his blessings when he spoke with us. He plays a father, David George, in the movie.
Dove: How did you get started in the business?
Kevin: “Well I got started when I was a high school student in Princeton, West Virginia, and wanted to do something in the entertainment business. I thought it was going to be as a musician because I had a band—I’m a drummer. Once I realized that we had more people in the 4 person band than we did in the audience, I decided I needed to change my career” he chuckled.
Kevin added that he grew up in a town of less than six thousand people and he wasn’t sure where to go, not that there might not have been opportunities, but he didn’t know where to find them. He traveled to Pittsburg and New York then went to Florida before ending up in Los Angeles. He said he learned something more about the craft of acting in every place he traveled by taking classes and doing plays. He described the experience as “building blocks” in helping him grow as an actor. For the last sixteen years, he has lived in Los Angeles.
Dove: Tell us about the basketball player role you had in Matlock. Were you the player in the locker room trying to prevent someone from being hurt?
Kevin: “I was being the peace maker then and I’m doing it now! That was the first actual that I ever had. A casting director by the name of Cannon, Cannon and Associates, cast me in that years ago when I was just a kid and I had no money, I slept in the back of my pick-up truck, because I couldn’t afford a hotel room, and I woke up when the sun came out and it was time for me to go do my shot for the day and what was great about me doing that episode was working with Andy Griffith, that in itself was just a joy, but I shot the episode in the same gymnasium Michael Jordan played High School basketball in. To add more to the story, the guy that I guarded in the episode was the guy who beat out Michael Jordan when he was a sophomore and Michael Jordan did not make the team.”
Dove: How did you become involved in A Christmas Tree Miracle?
Kevin: “Well, A Christmas Tree Miracle came around when I just came off a TV show and a friend of mine, Tess, gave me a random Facebook message. I hadn’t seen her in two or three years. She said, ‘Kevin, you’re perfect for this movie, we’re shooting it in your home state of West Virginia, and my husband’s directing it, we would love for you to audition for this project.’ So I sent in my demo stuff, I had conversations with the writer, Ty DeMartino, and the producer, Kristin Seibert. It just worked out that they thought it was a great fit and so did I. The stars aligned. It was perfect.”
Kevin added that he got along well with his fellow cast members and that not everyone came from Hollywood. “Hollywood is not Hollywood anymore” he said, “Hollywood is everywhere. There were more films shot in Louisiana in the last two years than there were in Los Angeles. I’ve spent the last three and a half months of this year shooting a series on the East Coast so you’re finding actors and talent all over the country now.”
Dove: What were the challenges in getting the movie made?
Kevin: “One challenge you have when you’re doing a movie this size is your budget. You don’t have a large budget so you don’t have the time to do the seven or eight takes that you would like to do. You’re relying on making sure your pre-production is in place and your actors show up—you don’t have to worry about rehearsing them, they’re ready to go.”
Kevin said that he has done as many as sixty five takes in some jobs when the budget allowed to give the director choices and also to try out different angles for the scenes. He also added that some directors use takes which sometimes may be surprising to the actor but the director is taking into consideration scenes which have gone before and later on and sometimes the take is used which works best for the other actor in the scene.
Dove: What about the rewarding aspects of filmmaking?
Kevin: “We just had two premieres, one in Wheeling, West Virginia, where we did the world premiere. We had roughly a thousand people and sold out the Capitol Theater Building. It’s the first time a movie had been shown at the Capitol Theater in thirty years, it’s all restored—it’s wonderful, beautiful. We had a blast. Then the next day we took it down to my hometown in Princeton, West Virginia, at the Chuck Mathena Center, and we sold out another thousand people. We sold out—a thousand people in eight days in my hometown. It was magical. It was a community builder and all the proceeds from that event went to my hometown to build a theater and restructure the downtown Princeton Renaissance Project. It was about bringing the town together and it was really great. I had to find the right film to do this.”
Kevin added that A Christmas Tree Miracle was a film he wanted to bring to his hometown because it wasn’t about a funeral– it wasn’t a graduation or a wedding, like events in which people only see each other at these specific happenings. This was a community film with a Christmas message.
Dove: What’s your next project?
Kevin: “I’m in a new show that’s coming out on ABC this March called Resurrection. I play a character named Gary Humphrey who’s a small town member of the church board and there are a lot of situations that are happening in this town that I just feel very uncomfortable about and you’ll see my character develop throughout the season.”
Kevin mentioned going full circle as the people who cast him in Matlock also have cast him in other projects including Resurrection. He said acting isn’t about being a star but enjoying the work and making a difference at the end of the day.
In closing, Kevin is all about the work and making sure the team gets the credit. He mentioned the executive producers, Kristin Seibert and Dolph Santorine, and director J.W. Myers as well as writer Ty DeMartino. He even wanted to make sure the distributor, Green Apple Entertainment, got credit. A Christmas Tree Miracle is available now On Demand and at select retailers