Marshall-Starke Development Center wraps up filming for first official movie 'Heard It Through the Blueberry Vine'

The Marshall-Starke Development Center is a group based facility in Plymouth that helps adults with developmental disabilites by working one-on-one with clients for potential employement and independent living. The facility's goal is to help clients live a happy, normal adult life. 

Recently starting a MSDC performing arts division in 2021 has allowed the facility to open even more doors of self discovery in their clients with things like talent shows, plays, and their newest project, a feature-length Hallmark style film. 

In 2022, the MSDC performing arts division had filmed their own version of 'The Wizard of MSDC,' which was later shown in the Rees Theater. Due to copyright laws, however, the crew was never allowed to make or sell copies of the feature. 

Free from copyright laws, the MSDC original film, 'I Heard It Through the Blueberry Vine,' has been their newest project, with filming that started during the summer of 2023. 

MSDC’s performing arts coordinator, Tabitha Johnson, says the filming was started as a brainstorm, but has really taken off. Nearly 95% of the film's cast, including the behind the scenes production and crew, are adults with developmental disabilities, who are clients at MSDC.



Johnson is co-directing the film Phil McFarland, a Direct Support Professional at MSDC, along with Director of Photography Tadd Pugh. 



McFarland has 15 years of career experience in theater, film and television.

Through his experience he has been able to make connections with other professionals. Previously working with film professionals, McFarland hopes to use those connections to get some well known figures in the film industry from surrounding areas to come do a live discussion panel after the premier. The panel will give their clients a chance to comment, share stories, and ask them questions about being in film.

Writing the story, McFarland said the story's theme is based around being a small-town love story, that hopes to capture the heart of its viewers. 



The premiere of 'Heard It Through the Blueberryvine' will have its official premiere at The REES Theater in Plymouth April 25 and 26. Additional showings will be announced in the near future. 

Clients involved in the movie, like Scott Wormsberger says the film helps them expand their creativity. Wormsberger, who plays the Sheriff in the movie, says he's always had a passion for being on stage. 



Client TJ Trusty, who acts alongside Wormsberger as the deputy, says the film has built confidence in him and has been a lot of fun. 



The team is also hoping to sell DVDs of the movie, using the proceeds to help future projects in the MSDC performing arts department. An early version of the movie's trailer can be found on the 'I Heard It Through the Blueberry Vine - Movie' Facebook page. The Facebook page also continues to post updates on the movie, behind the scene footage, and progress.