Miami Herald, The (FL) - June 16, 1985
Author: ROBERT L. STEINBACK Herald Staff Writer

It’s strange enough that a kid would grow up wanting to make monsters for a living.

But what’s really weird is that Norman Cabrera is getting his chance.

Cabrera, and just about everyone else on the Davie set of the horror movie "Scarecrows," is immersing himself in the ultimate dream, or nightmare, come true.

The set of "Scarecrows," which begins shooting Monday, is really a sort of dream factory. Everyone from the set construction crew to producer-director Bill Wesley is trying to turn a personal fantasy into a hit movie.

Cabrera couldn’t have asked for a better break than a movie about scarecrow-corpses who come to life to deal with seven uninvited guests, including five murderer-thieves who happen to drop in on their abandoned farm.

"My house is like plastered with monsters," said Cabrera, 20, who is building the chilling creatures. "It started as a hobby. This is like my big opportunity."

Cabrera, who grew up in Miami, pursued his hobby watching movies rich in special effects and studying horror film magazines. He traveled to California to look over the shoulder of Rick Baker, the special effects genius behind Michael Jackson’s music video "Thriller" and the movie "An American Werewolf in London."

Cabrera has worked on some locally produced videos and cable TV presentations. But to work on a full-length horror movie full of blood and gore practically in his own back yard is like a promotion to heaven.

On the "Scarecrows" set, though, Cabrera’s story is typical. The crew is young -- director Wesley is only 30 -- and nearly all are working on their first feature movie.

The fact that the movie is being shot at all is the chance meeting of two dreamers: Wesley, who had always wanted to make a horror movie, and 36-year-old Dade millionaire Ted Vernon, who always wanted to make -- and act in -- a film.

Vernon, who owns a Miami luxury car dealership called the Ted Vernon Collection, bankrolled "Scarecrows" to the tune of $1.8 million and got one of the seven lead roles.

"Scarecrows" is the reality Cami Winikoff often dreamed about. Winikoff, who declined to give her age, but who would certainly be carded buying beer, is a self-styled "film creature" who can’t imagine life outside show business. She’s making the most of a golden opportunity.

"I was trying to get a job on ’Miami Vice,’-t" the New York native said. "Finally, the guy said, ’Leave me alone. Go call this guy Bill Wesley.’"’

Wesley hired Winikoff to answer telephones on the "Scarecrows" set. But she promptly organized the books, took over the paperwork and began handling business arrangements. She now sports the title "associate producer."

Tony Bondanella is a classic "starving actor" waiting for his big break. The 33-year-old Fort Lauderdale bartender with the California surfer good looks didn’t get one of the lead roles in "Scarecrows." But he’s helping out with set construction -- for no pay -- in hopes of landing a bit part in the movie.

" is interesting, and I can put it on my resume," said Bondanella, who had minor roles in "Spring Break," "Where the Boys Are ’84," and "Stick."

But the opportunity presented by "Scarecrows" was probably best expressed by 21-year-old unit production manager Barry Waldman, fresh out of the University of Miami’s communications school.

"This film is great," he said. "To walk out of college and become a production manager? There is a God!"

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