Casting director helms ghost story in feature debut

Windy City Films director Tony DeGuide.

“Casting is my strong point,” says Tony DeGuide, by way of explaining the impressive talent that he has assembled for his feature directing debut, “A Voice from the Grave.”

The film is shooting in March and April throughout the Chicago area.

DeGuide, president of Windy City Casting in Medinah, plays a police officer haunted by the ghost of a man whose daughter was murdered, her killer released due to lack of evidence.

“It’s a combination of ?The Sixth Sense’ and ?Death Wish,’ with a little bit of ?The Crow'” DeGuide says.

Robert Zdar (“Tango and Cash”) plays the ghost. Zdar is featured in a trailer for the picture, which DeGuide showcased at the American Film Market in Los Angeles in February. “Foreign buyers showed a lot of interest, and I got a call about it from the Sundance Channel,” DeGuide says.

Also featured in “A Voice from the Grave” are Martin Sheen’s brother Joe Estevez (“I Got the Hook Up”), Muhammad Ali’s daughter Rasheeda Ali, Victoria Bourne (“Center Stage,”) and Dustin Diamond of the TV series “Saved by the Bell.”

DeGuide says he is in talks with Tony Curtis’ agent for the veteran screen star to play the mayor of Chicago.

“A lot of independent movies are made without any name talent, and they may have great actors, but foreign buyers and [domestic] distributors will always ask ?who’s in it?'” DeGuide says. “To me the beauty of making a movie is getting it out there commercially.”

DeGuide assembled his cast through contacts that he’d made both as a casting director and an actor. “I’ve stayed in touch with people, they knew I was getting ready to make a movie, and they said ?when you make your movie, call me,” DeGuide recalls.

DeGuide has played supporting roles in films including Chris Columbus’ “Only the Lonely,” and Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day.”

He started Windy City Casting six years ago, casting commercials and music videos, and local indie features including “The Vagrant” and “Hey, Anthony.”

DeGuide runs his production company Windy City Films out of the same office as his casting business. Branching into directing in the past couple years, he helmed videos for Terry Kelly (R. Kelly’s brother) and hip-hop group Thirsty Unit. His clients include ALT Transmissions in Arlington Heights and Jamada restaurant in Downstate Bloomington.

“A Voice from the Grave” is operating under the Screen Actors Guild’s limited exhibition agreement. It’s being shot on digital video, largely using equipment that Windy City has assembled over the years.

As well as directing and co-starring, DeGuide is also the writer/producer of “A Voice from the Grave.” “I know sometimes people frown on taking on so many roles, but I’ll take my chances,” he says. “A lot of my heroes have worn all these hats, especially early in their careers, guys like Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Robert Rodriguez. Maybe it’s good to do all these things in the beginning when you know exactly what you want.”

DeGuide is directing under his given name, Antonio DiGuida. “My agents have told me ?DeGuide’ is better for my acting career, but I like the artistic sound of ?DiGuida,” he explains.

DeGuide is already in development on his next picture, another thriller called “Coroner Pronounced Dead.”

Co-producer is Charlie Dreher, DP is Jeff Ackil, and production manager Randy Benzie.

For more see or M. Koziarski