The curtain rises. The production begins. The spotlight illumines the cast of Bella Luna Studios.

Villa Bella Luna, “The House of the Beautiful Moon,” is a French name that was given to the home of Chip and Windy Looney as they were welcomed on their first night by the cascading glow of a beautiful moon. Bella Luna is also the name given to another beautiful glow, an undertaking by their daughters and daughters’ friends as they step forward into a new adventure born of initiative and creativity. Let’s meet the cast of Bella Luna Studios and enjoy the night of their first premiere film performance, which took place on Thursday, August 4th.  At the event, the cast, their families, and friends enjoyed a three-fold series of films produced by this group of talented and delightful young people, with one of the films being a production by five-year-old Eli Looney.

The evening began with Eli’s 2-minute film entitled Farmer Eli. According to his parents, this adorable production was entirely of Eli’s own creative imagination and direction, with mom Windy serving as the videographer. The next film was the first initiative by the Bella Luna Studios cast, The Gaslight Murder, which can be found for viewing on YouTube.  It started out as a homeschool co-op project by Anelysse and Lilly Looney, along with lifelong friends Levi and Nathan Dolney. According to this group, they love old films, wanted to do a period piece, and so chose the 1944 classic Gaslight to serve as the inspiration for their own creative endeavor. With the addition of Charlie Chaplin antics and Vaudeville-style music, the murder plot comes alive! The filming of this silent production took 2-3 days total, although it happened over a longer period of time when the group could assemble at the Looney home. With costumes, jewelry, and props acquired from “mom’s closet,” The Goodwill Store, and a few online finds, the friends “got to goof around” and produced this delightful piece which includes fake mustaches, a banana phone, and although not true to the period, a Nature Valley granola bar. The project was filmed by iPhone and then edited with iMovie, which became a 12-hour labor of love by Anelysse.

Claudette, the feature performance of the evening which imparts a “Hitchcock” flavor to the night, is about a sad widow who needs something to do with her life, so she tries to be an artist and sell her art. After drawing for hours, the man from her past shows up and they fall in love, or so she thinks…. In addition to using the site of Villa Bella Luna for filming the production, two scenes were filmed at The Wynne Home Arts Center in Huntsville. Callie Lynch and Sydney Stoermer starred in this film in addition to Anelysse, Lilly, Levi, and Nathan. Claudette’s drawings as shown in the film are actual artworks by Anelysse and are a testament to her tremendous talent in this art medium as well.

The premiere took place at the Huntsville Community Church, located on the downtown square, where Chip is pastor. The vintage-style décor provided a perfect backdrop for this exciting display of youthful talent. The evening flowed seamlessly until little Adeline, the 2- year-old daughter of Windy and Chip, unknowingly interjected herself into the night’s festivities by inadvertently unplugging the projection equipment and bringing Claudette to a screeching halt. Not to be thwarted by this unplanned event, and ready for the challenge as any veteran director would be, Anelysse jumped to her feet, brought all the actors to the front for introductions and a bow, and then directed the guests to the refreshment table, by which time the problem was resolved, and the night’s entertainment continued. Laughs and applause ensued during the evening, and a standing ovation provided a well-deserved ending to the hard work and commitment of these young actors, along with the inspiration they embody.

Let’s meet the cast of Bella Luna Studios:

ANELYSSE LOONEY: I have always wanted to be an actor, but it’s kinda hard when you live in a small town and don’t have any connections. So, I thought, what better way to get experience than making my own films? So, I got my lifelong best friends Levi and Nathan, and my sister Lilly, to help with the first film, The Gaslight Murder. The next film was Claudette, and we included more friends in the cast. In fact, I would say that this is more of a friend group than a film group. We just honestly have a blast doing this together. I am the director. I make the plans, choose the dates, and basically boss everyone around! I really want to continue making films with my friends, and hopefully do some musicals as well as fantasy. I’m homeschooled and going into 11th grade this year. After graduation, I’m thinking about going to trade school for film, then getting a job at a studio, and hopefully becoming a filmmaker or actor someday.

LILLY LOONEY: I joined this so I might become better at acting, and I hope to become an actress in the future, possibly with productions on the Disney Channel. It’s been fun to experience acting and to have fun with my friends this way. I’ve performed in a play at the Huntsville Public Library entitled The Importance of Being Earnest, and also had a role as a 1920s flapper in a film. I’m homeschooled and entering my 9th-grade year.

LEVI DOLNEY: I’m 16 and a junior attending Coldspring High School. My interests are photography, cinematography, audio/visual, theater, and writing. I helped with a lot of the storyline on these productions and played parts in them as well. I’ve grown up with Anelysse and Lilly as lifelong friends, and we have enjoyed doing this together.

NATHAN DOLNEY: I will be attending Coldspring High School as a freshman this year. I look forward to playing percussion in the high school band. In Claudette, I’m the man who gets pick-pocketed by Mark, and at the end of this film, it is revealed that I was Claude in The Gaslight Murder. My favorite scene was when I got hit by the piano. I loved doing creative stunts and getting to play parts in both films.

CALLIE LYNCH: My favorite reason for belonging to this group is that everyone is always fun to hang around with, and this sounded like an exciting and creative challenge. I enjoyed playing Eleanor, dressing up in 1920s attire, contributing to the script, and assisting with the filming. I’m in ninth grade at Alpha Omega Academy and used to do an after-school drama class at my school. When we were younger, my friend Sydney and I used to create little skits and videos together. I hope to do more films and eventually write and publish a novel.

SYDNEY STOERMER: I joined the group by accident, you might say. I was spending the night with my friend Callie (she was part of the group), and I just showed up the next day with her for filming. I loved how fun and creative everyone was and how we kind of just went with the flow, and it ended up being something good. I played the mean lady who dragged Claudette away to the asylum. The behind-the-scenes work was my favorite part of the production to be involved with. I used to be a student at Alpha Omega and in the drama club for two years, but we are moving this year, and I will be attending Liberty University online.

These productions require a reliable group of support people to bring about success. The cast would like to thank the following:

• Amanda Dolney, Windy Looney, and Rhonda Lynch for help with transportation needs, costumes, props, and everything else that moms do!

• Lexie Stoudt and “Two Blondes and a Bakery” for the beautifully decorated and delicious cake, and for lending props that helped create this elegant affair.

• Maggie Collum (MC Dance) for the fashionable red carpet. Every premiere needs a red carpet, and this truly was a red-carpet night!

• Belle Looney and Ruby-Kate Castleman for technical and emotional support.

• Garrett Lynch for serving as a bodyguard for the cast members at the premiere.

• Rhonda Lynch for assisting Anelysse, Lilly, Callie, and Sydney with decorating the venue.

• The Wynne Home Arts Center for use as a scene in the production.

• The Huntsville Community Church for hosting the occasion.

• For all our families and friends, including Mary Laura Gibbs, who joined us at the premiere; we are grateful for your interest and support.


The YouTube links to both films can be found on the Postcards website, and on our Facebook page, @PostcardsMag

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