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CHARLESTON — Traci Alms of Mattoon and Cindy Tozer of Charleston can now add heroic astronaut and ruthless warrior to their resumes, respectively.

Both Alms and Tozer have major roles in the upcoming movie, "Empire of Danger." It is a sequel to "Lost on Mars," which was released earlier this year by local director and producer Eric Shook of Westfield.

"Empire of Danger" tells the story of four American astronauts who are sent on a rescue mission to Mars after a previous crew vanishes there, as seen in "Lost on Mars."

The rescue team encounters the same time warp that had bedeviled the previous crew and is sent back billions of years in time to ancient Mars, where they encounter the menacing Siperion Empire.

Alms portrays Rachel, the commander of the rescue mission. Alms described her character as a true professional who stays calm under pressure and unites her crew.

Tozer plays Giza, a returning character from "Lost on Mars." She said Giza is a "ruthless warrior" and "control freak" who has evil plans for the device that caused the time warp.

"Giza wants control of the Siperion Empire and everything else," Tozer said.

Rachel and Giza confront each other several times during "Empire of Danger," but Tozer said she and Alms had a lot of fun during the filming and often laughed between scenes.

"It's hard to get back into that intense character," Tozer said.

Neither Tozer or Alms had much in the way of acting experience before they got involved with the Westfield Entertainment Group movie.

Alms said she heard about the production through her friendship with Shook's daughter and welcomed the new experience. Tozer said she met Shook while shopping at Wal-Mart and decided to give acting a try.

"I just thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in a film," Tozer said.

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Throughout the filming, Shook has offered his cast opportunities to see clips of themselves at work. Alms said she and other cast members have used those clips to provide direction on how they can improve their performances.

"We want it to be good because we know people will be watching this," Alms said.

Shook said he has completed about 75 percent of the filming so far, including all the outdoor footage. He and his wife, Beverly, have both played roles on and off the screen in the productions, including constructing dungeon and spacecraft sets in their basement.

"Empire of Danger" is expected to be ready for distribution in late spring, Shook said. The sequel will join "Lost on Mars" on shelves at local video stores and in the catalogs of Amazon.com and other movie sales Web sites.

Information about the two movies can be found at www.westfieldentgrp.com.

Other "Empire of Danger" cast members include Caleb Howald, Tatum Green, Samantha Shook, Stephanie Hunsiker, Dar'Keith Lofton, Jayson Johnson and Adam Kennedy.

Contact Rob Stroud at rstroud@jg-tc.com

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