Lights! Camera! Ephrata!

By on August 14, 2019

It was an exciting morning last Friday at The New Main Theatre as a crew was busy shooting scenes for the upcoming short film “Calf Rope.”

According to the film’s press release, the production is “a tender short film set in the 1960s about a 65-year-old cattle auctioneer and former junior rodeo champ from rural Oklahoma, and the tight bond he develops with his young grandson from suburban Pennsylvania while teaching him a few tricks from his previous trades.”

Directed by award-winning local filmmaker Bradley Hawkins, The film is based on his personal boyhood memories of his Granddad Mac, and ends with a hint of the legacy that his “Grandad” unknowingly left behind for him as a role model for being a grandfather to his own grandchildren.

Lights, makeup, and other filming equipment took up part of the lobby of The New Main Theatre in Ephrata last Friday, all to shoot a scene for ‘Calf Rope’ — a short feature with local ties. Photo by Cory Van Brookhoven.

Hawkins’ daughter, Sarah, is producing the project under their father-daughter company, Dadley Productions. In between takes, she explained why Ephrata was selected as one of the key filming locations for the project.

Director Bradley Hawkins gave a last minute pep-talk to some extras before filming began at the New Main Theatre on Friday, Aug. 9. Submitted photo.

“We really love Central Pennsylvania,” Hawkins said. “We’re shooting all across Ephrata, Annville, Lancaster, and Landisville.”

The Lancaster resident added that choosing The New Main in Ephrata was an obvious choice.
“In production value alone, this looks beautiful,” she said of the auditorium’s backdrop. “But to be able to also highlight this really cool venue and places that are here. I feel like a lot of filmmakers just don’t realize that there’s so much potential here and there’s so much untapped resources.”

Penn Ketchum, who serves as the general manager at The New Main, agrees, and stated that he was “super excited” when he was first contacted by the crew.

“This is all for a scene that’s going to last under a minute,” Ketchum said, as he looked around the busy movie set with members of the crew scurrying around in every direction.

“I love the opportunity to support the filmmakers, but also the degree to support the community,” he said. “This community has so much to offer. And for some filmmakers to see that and recognize the value and the beauty in this area is really gratifying and validates what we already know. We know how great this area is, we know how much we love Ephrata, and so to have a film crew want to come in and make a movie here…it’s really neat.”

“This is very consistent with what the Red Rose Film Festival is doing,” he added. “Pennsylvania is also a great place to make movies. I love the fact that there’s going to be about 50 or 60 people here this morning working on this…they all gotta get coffee somewhere, they’re all gonna get lunch somewhere. It’s just fascinating to me the amount of energy and effort that goes into making movies.”

Filming in the area was planned until Aug. 12. To learn more about Calf Rope, visit

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your comments at or 717-721-4423. 

One Comment

  1. Patricia Fritz

    August 16, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    So glad that not only our little town but P.a as a whole being recognized for its timeless beauty and history. It has so much to offer in the filming industry. Hopefully more projects can be done in the state of P.a There’s so much diversity here . Looking forward to seeing this short film . Congrats to everyone in whatever capacity is touched by this .

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