By Kathy Feist
On Monday, August 15, Mama Leone’s, 650 E. Red Bridge Rd., closed its doors to the public and opened them to the cast and crew shooting the movie All Creatures Here Below.
The movie, which tells of a Los Angeles couple on the run who seek refuge in Kansas City, stars Overland Park native David Dastmalchian (Ant Man, The Dark Night), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr. Who) and Tipton, MO, native David Koechner (Anchorman, Get Smart).
The movie has been filming in Kansas City since the beginning of August.
The story, scripted by Dastmalchian, has the main character working at a small mom and pop pizza restaurant. The film’s crew scouted the Kansas City area for the perfect location and found it at Mama Leone’s, a stand-alone pizza establishment which was once a Wendy’s.
“They came in here a few weeks ago and wanted to know if they could shoot a movie here,” recalls owner Frank Leone. “I told them I would think about it.”
Leone’s reticence soon turned to enthusiasm and before long he was training Dastmalchian in the art of making great pizza.
The two, similar in age, soon discovered they had a connection. Leone and a friend of Dastmalchian used to work at Oak Park Mall’s Original Pizza, which is owned by Frank’s father, Giacomo Leone.
On the day of filming, Leone got a small walk-on role. He carefully watched Dastmalchian successfully prepare a hamburger and pepperoni pizza. But for the most part he and his wife Gius and two sons observed the operation from afar. The film crew shot scenes from morning to early evening.
He was amazed at the friendliness of the crew.
“I shouldn’t say I was surprised,” he says. “But they were people like you and me. Very down to earth. The whole cast and crew were great.”
Other cast included producers Amy Greene Vines (X-Men: First Class), Chris Stinson (Truth), and Nacho Arenos. The movie is directed by Colin Schiffli who also directed Dastmalchian’s award-winning script Animals.
The movie will continue filming in the area through the month of August. All Creatures Here Below is the first recipient of the newly formed Kansas City Film Office incentive program.
Mama Leone’s opened six years ago and serves ready to go sliced pizza, pizza rolls, sandwiches and salads as well as pizza made to order. Check http://mammaleones.com/#/ or their Facebook page for more information.