Haylie Duff is directing and starring in a movie in Tampa Bay


TAMPA — David Yates promised that he would produce 10 films in Tampa Bay in less than a year.

He overdelivered.

A month after wrapping the 10th and sending the crew home for the summer, Yates and producing partner Danny Roth decided to get the band back together for an 11th, directed by and starring Haylie Duff.

Her previous credits include the television series “7th Heaven” and the cult classic film “Napoleon Dynamite.” She is also the older sister of actress Hilary Duff.

“The plan was 10 but we also wanted to make as many as we could,” said Yates, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s former CEO who helped produce the two “Dolphin Tale” movies. “We received this script and decided to do it.”

According to Yates, the movie, which started three weeks of shooting on both sides of the bridge on Monday, is tentatively titled “Project Baby.” It is about a married couple who is called out of a town on a family emergency just prior to their son’s first birthday. The husband and wife ask their respective best friends to work together to look after the baby while planning the birthday party.

“Neither of them has experience with children,” Yates said. “The adventures of childcare begin an unexpected attraction that they did not see coming.”

Duff plays the wife. The movie is her directorial debut.

“I’m currently in Florida, directing my first movie!” she wrote on Instagram from Clearwater. “It’s a dream I’ve always had tucked away in the back of my heart and I’m still in awe that I’m actually getting the chance to fulfill this dream.”

Duff is the one of several Hollywood stars to come to Tampa Bay as part of Yates’ productions. Others include Sean Astin for “Pet Detective” and Cedric the Entertainer and Ashanti for “Plus One.”

“They are a machine,” Pinellas County film commissioner Tony Armer said of Yates’ production team. “They are churning out movies. It is great for the industry and great for the area. They are making movies and spending money. That is exactly what we want.”



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