Somerset family playing a key role in making of ‘Kecksburg’
(Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories about the movie being made about the Kecksburg UFO incident.)
The ad said a film director needed to rent military vehicles for the movie “Kecksburg,” a fictional take on actual UFO reports in Westmoreland County on Dec. 9, 1965.
Many locals claimed to see an unidentified flying object that descended in a hollow. Some reported seeing an acorn-shaped object being hauled out by officials. But the claims have not been substantiated.
Director Cody Knotts thought the story warranted being made into a movie, which spurred the search for period vehicles.
John Borek had just finished restoring a 1955 Willys Jeep in the driveway of his Somerset home. He messaged Knotts about the project.
The film’s creator responded quickly, indicating his excitement.
The Willys model Jeep debuted in 1941 as a U.S. Army vehicle used in World War II. It was one of the first military vehicles mass-produced in the United States.
Their conversation continued about the 11 classic vehicles that Borek made street legal. He drives them often with his wife, Brooke, and their daughters.
Borek told Knotts about his knowledge of World War II military history. He became interested in that era because his grandparents were both Marines in World War II.
Borek collects weapons and clothing from that era, he told Knotts. Soon they were talking about using them in the film.
Borek grew up only a few miles from where the UFO event happened. His father, who left the military in 1965, often spoke about it. A member of Borek’s band, The Laurels, often talked about that day, too.
”He (band member) lived in Greensburg and remembered as a kid he saw it come streaming down and crash. He was playing with a bunch of neighbor kids and they had the impression it was just over the hill. So, they took off running and they ran a couple miles before they realized it was not just over the hill. At that point they probably were halfway,” he said.
Knotts informed Borek that he could use Borek’s equipment and his help on the film.
When 9-year-old Allison Borek heard that her dad was going to be involved with a feature film she thought, “This is my chance.”
”I was begging and begging,” she said about wanting to be a part of the film.
She knew Knotts wanted short girls to play the aliens in “Kecksburg.” Allison knew she was right for the role, as was her little sister, 5-year-old Emily.
The sisters became aliens.
”We just had to skip across a field,” she said.
In this movie the aliens are nice, Allison said. “They skip everywhere.”
Beside her, Emily gave a playful grin and said she enjoyed being an alien.
Borek spent one Saturday teaching an actor how to drive a stick shift in one of his antique Jeeps for a scene in the movie.
He also spent time behind the camera during that shoot in Westmoreland County, as he had over the previous week, mainly assisting with the scenes of the military advancing on the Kecksburg community.
On a Sunday he watched as his wife and daughters joined with others playing extras, clothed in 1960s garb. The people gathered in a diner in Mount Pleasant. The kids would soon be chasing a Ricky Nelson look-alike down the streets. The chase of a 1960s music star seems to fit, since Nelson’s granddaughter, Remi Moses, plays a role in the movie. Her grandfather died in a plane crash in 1985.
Earlier last week a filming crew stopped by Borek’s home in Somerset to film him jumping into a Jeep.
The 9-year-old Allison said that watching the crew work with the lighting was interesting.
By the end of the nearly two weeks of filming, Borek was picking up the lingo and understanding some of the ins and outs of filmmaking. He is proud of that.
(Pick up Monday’s Daily American to learn about the mind of a science-fiction horror writer.)