CHILD ACTOR GETS PARENTS HOOKED ON FILM

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013

 

Child actor gets parents hooked on film

Posted: Aug 15, 2013 1:23 PM EDT Updated: Aug 15, 2013 2:36 PM EDT

By ROBERT PRICE bprice@njherald.com

JEFFERSON -- As the Scharf family pursues their whirlwind journey into the film industry, one thing's for sure -- fast-budding child actor Chloe Elaine Scharf didn't get her talent from her father.

"I remember back when I was at the University of Delaware, I took an acting class and I had to drop it. I just couldn't do it," Mitch Scharf said.

But Chloe surely got her determination and work ethic from her parents, Mitch and Laura, who both hold down demanding day jobs while working their way into the producing side of the movie business. Their first two films, "God's Favor" and "Folded Hope," shorts that feature their daughter, were selected for screening at the 66th annual Cannes Film Festival last May.

It all started with Chloe, who began acting professionally at five and hasn't looked back. As Chloe, who attends Rev. Brown School in Sparta, followed her dream, her supportive parents got more and more involved almost by accident.

"We just got thrown into the business because of Chloe. We were always there because of Chloe. It's all about Chloe," Mitch Scharf said.

At Cannes, the Scharf family walked the same red carpet as Steven Spielberg, president of the Cannes jury, and Leonardo DiCaprio, representing "The Great Gatsby." That's quite a departure for Mitch, a successful boat salesman on Lake Hopatcong, and Laura, a children's wear designer in New York City. For 10-year-old Chloe, it was a dream come true.

"My trip to France was superb," she said. "I walked the red carpet four times and got to get dressed up. On the last night I met Orlando Bloom. He said high to me! My other favorite part was going to Marineland in Antibes with my dad." "Folded Hope," directed by Montclair State University student Jenna Leung, of Bloomfield, tells the story of a terminally ill girl and her mother who struggle with her illness by folding 1,000 paper cranes, in accordance with a legend that holds that a person who folds that number of origami birds will be granted a wish.

"God's Favor," directed by Ilay Ron, of New York, tells the story of a quiet English town in 1612 suddenly thrown into chaos when its courthouse is mysteriously set on fire, raising suspicions of sorcery upon a free-spirited young woman named Faye.

Mitch and Laura Scharf were executive producers for both films, which basically means they were in charge of finding the funding to get the films made.

They've since gotten more into the real, hands-on work of producers -- dealing with actors and casting agents, directors, salaries, contracts and finding locations.

"The first two films we ever got made got to Cannes," Mitch Scharf said. "We're working on three feature films right now, two of which came to light because we went to Cannes. It's really about your next project."

Neither Mitch nor Laura have any background in film or acting. Laura is Chloe's manager, together with Peggy Becker of Parkside Talent. She is currently working with another executive producer, celebrity designer Kenny Davis, on ad campaigns. Meanwhile, Mitch puts in the legwork on the business and artistic side, when he's not working as the top unit producer for MarineMax.

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"In the grand scheme, you can't get there overnight," Mitch said. "We understand you have to put in the work and effort. That's what we're instilling in Chloe.

"She's full of confidence. She's learning about failure, but she's fearless," he added.

Chloe took her first acting lessons when she was five at Acting A Part in Sparta. Within a couple of years her teacher, Erika Lupo, recommended her for a film project called "Breaking the Pig," a short film produced by Kevin O'Brien of Sparta.

Since then, Chloe has played Molly in a Kids of the Arts production of "Annie" in Mountain Lakes; was in an Off- Broadway production of "Pippi Longstocking"; and in the TV pilot of "Infinity," where she met actor Tony Costa. Chloe will be working with Costa again on the film "Down the Hall."

The projects kept coming. Last year, Chloe earned about $4,000 by acting, not bad for a 10-year-old. "I like acting because it is fun and I enjoy it," Chloe said. "Some people do it for the money but I don't. I try my hardest and I see what happens. My dreams are coming true."

When Chloe landed a lead role in a silent movie, "Silver Man," her entire family got involved in the production for the first time. Believe it or not, Mitch and Laura were asked to play supporting roles in the film, directed by New York University graduate student Ashleigh Mayfair and produced by her NYU graduate student husband, Kyle Balmer.

A year later, Mayfair and Balmer shot their next film, "Heart of a Doll," at the Scharfs' house at Lake Hopatcong.

Next up for Chloe was the lead role in Ilay Ron's short film, "Nora," for which she won a Best New Actress Award at the Manhattan Film Festival. That led to "God's Favor."

Chloe has appeared in the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," among other television, film and stage productions, and made her feature film debut as a day player in the 2011 hit "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," starring Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks. She was also cast in the period film "Yorkshire Witchcraft."

Chloe, an A student who works hard on her studies despite seemingly countless auditions, already has her own signature quote: "Follow your dreams, the sky's the limit."

"I want to achieve the goal of being the best actress I can be, and have everyone know my name," she said.

Meanwhile, her parents recently formed their own production company, called Spartacus Films, LLC (www.spartacusfilms.com). They are executive producers of the full-length feature film, "Down the Hall," a paranormal thriller that will be filmed in Sussex and Morris counties.