MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 26, 2011

Independent filmmaking’s local leading lady

— Sharon Ray is best known as ShIronbutterfly in the film-making world and her personal life.

The name was a byproduct of her career as a motivational speaker. In her speeches she would use the transformation of the butterfly as an analogy for change.

“People identified me with the butterfly, so it became my nickname. During a training session with Les Brown, the Motivator, he dubbed me an ‘Iron Butterfly,’ ” she said.

“I went from using Sharon ‘Butterfly’ to ‘ShIronbutterfly’ so I was not misidentified with the ’60s rock band.”

Ray and her husband, Oscar, have started two independent film production companies — Darkwood Motion Picture Productions and Bare Bones Film Works – and the Bare Bones Film Festival. Through the Darkwood Film Arts Institute, she also is known as a teacher and inspiration to many.

“Bare Bones has no frills, nothing fancy, it’s just bare bones,” Ray said. “We started it to handle short film projects, infomercials, community film projects, film festival documentaries, management, marketing and more.”

Darkwood Productions was created as an outlet for actors. It’s handles feature films.

“We had the production companies and the training arm, so we just decided to have something to bring their movies to,” Ray said.

“The Bare Bones Film Festival is open to independent filmmakers worldwide, so the documentaries and narrative pictures were a bit of a cultural wake-up,” Ray said. “We had movies from places like Iran, places that you would never expect to be having fun while making movies.”

For both production companies, Ray is in charge of producing, casting, directing, and generally making each film happen, but she has also been in front of the camera several times.

“It’s always seem to be roles that I wouldn’t have chosen for myself, but I still do as I tell my students and study it and know that role,” Ray said.

When she’s not teaching or inspiring, Ray likes to make her own films. She is working on a film about Bass Reeves, a U.S. marshal who became a police officer in Muskogee.

“History can just be so boring. I like projects, and I like to see history in action,” Ray said.

“It’s still in the beginning stages, but we’re hoping that it gets more attention because Morgan Freeman has shown interest in playing the late Bass Reeves. Also, part of the movie will be shot in Muskogee.”

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