By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
A new TV series filmed on locations in Oxford, Lake Orion and around Metro Detroit also uses local talent.
“Tale of Tails” is about a divey gentlemen’s club named Tails, and how Nick, the owner, attempts to keep it afloat after one of the dancers goes missing, triggering a police investigation. All eight episodes of the first season are now streaming for free on Tubi.
Harley Wallen, a Swedish-American Lake Orion resident, co-created, directed and stars in the independent series, produced by his company Painted Creek Productions in association with Chapter 3 Media.
The series co-stars Kaiti Wallen, Tevis Marcum and Brett Stanfield, a 1999 Oxford High School graduate who plays the hardboiled Detective Jones.
“It exceeded my expectations when I saw the finished product,” Stanfield said, “because you don’t know how it’s going to look when you shoot it.” The local cast members performed just as well alongside professional talent, he added.
The show is intended for mature audiences. “The content is definitely adult,” Stanfield cautions. “But nothing was ever too extreme, and anything they show is germane to the story. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it.”
Performing always came naturally to Stanfield, who began playing drums when he was about 8 years old. By the time he was 12, he was regularly playing at Christ the King Church. “I just loved it. I loved performing and creating. I learned to play other instruments along the way, playing in bands.”
His sophomore year, Stanfield tried out for the high school musical Bye Bye Birdie and got a major part playing Hugo. “But I didn’t do any more musicals, because they switched them to the fall, football season, and there was just no way. Otherwise I would have kept going.” Stanfield was the kicker for the football team during the 1998 state semifinals his senior year.
Recently, he made appearances in blockbuster films “Transformers: The Last Knight” as a bank customer, and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” as a soldier and as a paramedic. One of his scenes in the Batman movie was filmed in an Oxford gravel pit. “It was August,” he remembers. “I was wearing a 100-pound costume and it was very hot.” But he learned a lot observing director Zach Snyder and star Ben Affleck in action.
Since that experience, his acting career has taken off, landing more roles and getting offers. “After years and years of rejection and sticking with it, it’s finally starting to pay off.”
Besides a familiar face, viewers of “Tale of Tails” might also recognize a local landmark: one scene was filmed in Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery in Oxford Township. “We had a great time as always and love filming local whenever we can on our films or TV series,” Harley Wallen, the director said.
The series takes place in a fictionalized, urban version of Lake Orion and prominently features the Lake Orion Police Department. “We’ve worked with LOPD many times and it’s always been terrific,” Wallen said. “It’s nice to live and be a part of a community that is as supportive as the people of our community here in Lake Orion and Oxford.”
In addition to using some of the police department’s facilities and uniforms, several off duty, non-paid officers appear in the show to make the police scenes accurate. Some officers who appear in the show, including Brian Martinez, have appeared in a numerous recent independent films featuring the department, including “Betrayed” (2018) and “Enigma” (2019), which were also directed by Wallen, and “Devil’s Night: Dawn of the Nain Rouge” (2019) which stared Oxford resident Jesi Jensen.
Filming was interrupted by the pandemic in March 2020. They finished filming in the summer, when it was deemed safe to get back to production with adequate safety protocols in place. Several scenes had to be refilmed for continuity.
The series has received numerous awards at independent international film festivals. “It’s a big reward in and of itself to get the accolades at the festivals and gain nominations and awards, even beyond our feature films that are now available around the world, followed by such strong distribution,” Wallen said. Writing is underway for a second season.
Viewers can watch “Tale of Tails” on tubitv.com or by downloading the Tubi app.
By James Hanlon