Lakeland invaded in alumnus’s TV series

Published 10:44 pm Thursday, January 5, 2012

Le’Auntray Burch, a Lakeland High School alumnus, will revisit his high school later this month to film scenes for the television show he created and wrote a script for called “The Feelers.” The show will follow a group of Lakeland students who realize their teachers are aliens.

Something strange is coming to Lakeland High School.

Later this month, the school will be abducted by a group of teachers from another planet, and a group of students will have to bind together to defeat them.

It might sound like something out of a science-fiction series — because it is.

Email newsletter signup

The alien takeover of the Suffolk school is the premise of a new television series, “The Feelers,” created and written by Lakeland alumnus Le’Auntray Burch.

“Most students think that their teachers are aliens, but this time, they are right,” Burch said.

“The Feelers” is a teen drama-thriller that centers on a group of Lakeland students as they deal with the invasion of teachers from another planet.

Burch said the show is a combination of “Saved By the Bell” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

The series is scheduled to start shooting the pilot this month, and several Suffolk locations, including Lakeland, will be featured.

“Being as this is my first production, I wanted to recognize my school,” Burch said. “Suffolk Public Schools has been great about it.”

He said it was important to him to feature his high school because it was where he honed his love for all things cinema.

“My senior year I started the film club,” Burch said. “A lot of teachers and students knew me from going around filming everything.”

After he graduated in 2009, Burch started working on his degree in entertainment business from Full Sail University and writing “The Feelers.”

“We’ve been working to get it ready since 2010,” he said.

After he wrote the script, Burch had to find a director and production company to make his words come to life — enter Travis Harger and Pike Media Resource.

Burch said he and Harger immediately bonded because they share a favorite screenwriter, and Harger decided to help the budding writer.

“After that bond, he was totally ready to do the show,” he said. “He read the script and liked it and decided to do it for a discounted rate.”

Although getting a director was a huge step, Burch said, the hardest part was to come.

“The tough part was funding and coming up with the money to have a production company to shoot the show,” he said.

Burch, whose official title for the show is executive producer, said he’s watched Hollywood heavyweights, like Stephen Spielberg, put together big productions, but nothing could prepare him for the real thing.

“It’s more challenging than you would think,” he said. “I sort of have to manage everything more than I thought I would. I’m loving the experience though.”

Despite the challenges, Burch will soon see his vision come to life.

With a director on board and the main cast hired, the team will start filming the pilot Jan. 14.

Burch said many Lakeland students are going to be featured as extras in the show, and in fact, they are looking for a few more people to be in it.

The group is holding an open audition and pancake breakfast tomorrow at Applebee’s on College Drive from 9 to 10 a.m.

“If anyone is interested in auditioning, they can come out,” Burch said. “Even if you don’t want to audition, you can still stop by and learn what’s going on.”

The funds generated from the pancake breakfast will help with production costs.

After all the prep work, Burch said, he is excited — albeit nervous — about his vision coming to life.

“I’m a little nervous because as a writer you can write the way you want it, but the director is the guy who is going to make it happen,” he said. “But I know Travis is going to do a good job.”

When filming is complete, the team will start shopping the pilot to TV networks to get it on the air.

“I ultimately would like to see a major network pick it up; that way, it would be able to be shown all over the United States,” he said. “If we get local, that would be just as good.”

He added, “I would love to have that feeling of putting Suffolk on the map on TV.”