(WHTM) — Izayah Bojanac of Lower Paxton Township is a senior at Westminster College in western Pennsylvania. Last year, his campus was turned into a movie set for the Netflix thriller “The Pale Blue Eye.” It’s a murder mystery set on the campus of West Point Military Academy in the 1800s.
“It was the old architecture and open space that we had,” Bojanac said, explaining what drew movie producers to the Pittsburgh-area college. “Some of our buildings date back 100, 150 years, so for a film set in the 1830s, that’s exactly what you’re looking for.”
Bojanac, a 2019 graduate of Central Dauphin High School, says the movie’s plot is intense.
“Edgar Allen Poe, played by Harry Melling (of Harry Potter fame) is a cadet at West Point,” Bojanac said. “He meets a grizzled old veteran played by Christian Bale who is investigating one, maybe two, maybe more murders at the academy that happen to the cadets.”
While a fictitious story, Poe did, in fact, attend West Point.
The film also stars big names like Robert Duvall and Gillian Anderson. And to find the cadets, Netflix didn’t have to look much further than the Westminster campus.
“They put out an open casting call to the community, but they held it on campus, so naturally a lot of us turned out,” Bojanac said.
Bojanac was selected and sent to a boot camp with actual West Point instructors to learn how to march. It came naturally to this former Central Dauphin marching band drum major.
“It helped me personally because I was familiar with the style and tambor and marching to the drums, all of those different things,” he said.
His musical background also led to a role as a fife player.
“We had the opportunity to do a little bit of musical expression, play some standard wartime pieces, marching tunes from the era, and while I’m not sure they’ll make the film, they certainly were a lot of fun,” he said.
He filmed for months in the frigid cold woods of western Pennsylvania. He says he was amazed at the lengths the crew went to for historical accuracy. His costume, for example, was a custom-made replica of a West Point cadet’s uniform in the 1830s. And thankfully, he says it was warm.
“There were a couple of nights where we were up at 3 in the morning to start filming or we were out until 3 in the morning filming night scenes,” Bojanac said. “And it gets brutally cold, especially Pittsburgh in the winter.”
But it was an assignment well worth the excitement he’s now feeling ahead of the movie’s release. You can already spot Bojanac in trailers for the upcoming film.
“The Pale Blue Eye” will play in select AMC Theaters this Friday. It streams on Jan. 6 on Netflix.
And you might also notice two other familiar faces if you decide to watch. Senator-elect John Fetterman and his wife, Giselle, were cast as extras in a bar scene.