Drama series ‘House of Sharkes’ a labor of love for Caroline writer

by | Apr 28, 2024 | ALLFFP, Arts and Entertainment, Caroline

Writing comes naturally for Sylvia Montgomery. 

When the Caroline County resident was in grade school, she was always enthused about English class.

“When we had to do the book reports in school, I was the one who did not mind getting in front of the class and sharing my book report,” Montgomery said. “I just love being creative.” 

The writing translated to penning a book entitled “Her Ultimate Choice” in 2004 and creating scripts for plays at Mount Oni Baptist Church in Ruther Glen as well as Second Baptist Church in the same area. 

Now, Montgomery’s writing is coming to the screen. 

An eight-part web-based drama series she wrote called “House of Sharkes” will debut Sunday at 4 p.m. on YouTube. 

Montgomery started the project in 2016. It took three years to finish filming as it was done intermittently and only on weekends. The COVID-19 pandemic created another hiccup, so editing was delayed. 

Montgomery quickly learned the difference between writing and creating a visual product; one scene in particular took four hours to edit. She said in the future she’ll edit as she goes. 

“That gave me an indication that this was just going to be [strenuous],” Montgomery said of editing the first scene. “We literally went through every single take, looked at everything one by one, piece by piece, looked for every flaw, every facial expression to decide how this should look, are they getting their lines right … but at the end of the day we finally finished, and we were extremely happy and excited for the finished product.” 

One episode of “House of Sharkes” will air per week. Montgomery aims to simultaneously work on Season 2 while the first season airs. 

The story revolves around four siblings — three sisters and a brother — who are attempting to carry their family’s legacy forward. 

Montgomery said the family is “dysfunctional” but powerful because their father had a well-established business and was known in the community. The older siblings are desperate to maintain the status quo and keep the younger ones in line without realizing changes need to be made. 

“Just because their dad built this empire, it does not mean everything was fine and perfect,” Montgomery said. “It was their little world, and it was dysfunctional. The younger siblings wanted to go off and do their own thing, but the older ones were trying to prevent that.” 

A home in Caroline was the story’s central location, but filming also took place in a county church and locations in Richmond and Washington, D.C.  

“We got around a little bit,” Montgomery said. 

Gerald Mtui, from the Washington area, served as director of photography and was instrumental in editing the project, Montgomery said. 

Most of the main actors hail from Washington, two are from Richmond and one from Caroline. The Caroline resident was Alicia White-Foxx, who died in 2022. Montgomery said White-Foxx’s daughter wants to become involved in a future project. 

“I was so sad mostly because she never got to see this project,” Montgomery said of White-Foxx. “But her kids were at the viewing, and they loved it. They feel like they have a legacy for their mom now.” 

Montgomery retired from the federal government after 30 years in 2019. Following retirement, she began her business, Simms Solutions for Business and Life. The business now has a production aspect after Montgomery completed the first season of this series.  

Montgomery, who also works as a financial consultant, has served as a ghostwriter for websites and other businesses, penning blogs, social media posts, press releases and other content. The “life” part of her company involves her role as a life coach helping others discover their purpose. She has a podcast on that topic called “Streamin with a Purpose.” 

“People would come to me questioning their purpose,” Montgomery said. “I found myself frustrated by that. It seemed to me like they thought they didn’t fit, or they had nothing to offer the world. That bothered me. It troubled me. We all have something to offer the world.” 

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