SHARON – Hunkering down like an NFL linebacker, Michael Anthony Forney tells the actress that’s how he wants her to look in the upcoming scene.
Then Forney pauses.
“Action,’’ he tells the actress and several cameramen in what could be a big-budget movie set.
But it isn’t a set. This is Central Way, a downtown Sharon alley. and Forney, better known in the Shenango Valley as Michael Anthony, said the alley is perfect for filming a scene in his TV pilot show.
“It’s looks like some major movie company constructed this alley for a TV or movie set,’’ said the owner of Michael Anthony Productions. “It looks like a big city alley, which is what I want.’’
Starting out in the Youngstown area as an artist and entertainer, Forney is embarking on a new phase in his life. But his past also includes Sharon.
In 2016 he opened Michael Anthony’s Cafe and Galleria D’Arte in the former James E. Winner Jr. Arts and Culture Center on East State Street in downtown Sharon. Much of the ground floor is now home for Cycle Life Studio.
For two years, Forney hosted events, such as art shows and musical entertainment, at the center.
He left to embark on filming projects as a freelance director and is now filming a TV pilot, titled “Why Me?’’ It’s a gritty show, which he wrote, with protagonists, antagonists and in-betweens. He also is the show’s producer and director.
“It’s suspenseful and definitely a mystery involving a family and underground crime,’’ Forney said.
Actors for the show run a wide swath of race, gender and age.
“When I look out the window I don’t see one race,’’ Forney said. “Film-making to me is an automatic reflection of life.’’
He began filming 18 months ago but the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted work.
Still, the show’s actors said the shutdown formed them into a close-knit group.
“We’ve used that time rehearsing and developing our characters,’’ said Shawna Finger, who plays the role of Jordy – a detective looking to solve a murder case. “There’s good camaraderie among us.’’
Michael J. Taylor Jr. of Austintown has been acting on a variety of Forney’s productions for eight years. His role in the show is Chauncey – a bad boy with character.
“I love Chauncey; he’s the complete opposite of me,’’ Taylor said. “He does all the things I would love to do in real life but won’t because it isn’t right.’’
With the pandemic’s worst behind them, filming – including the alley scene shot last weekend in Sharon — has resumed.
More filming awaits on the project and Forney fits that in when his schedule allows.
He’s looking to complete his show by May 2022 and market it to TV networks and subscription-based streaming services like Netflix.
With an abundance of streaming services and broadcasters looking for quality original content, Forney is hopeful.
“This is the golden age for TV shows and movies,’’ he said.