South actress stars in her father’s new film, Hell’s Half Acre


Lexi Babich and Sloane Shabelman

A group of 20-year-old urban explorers fear for their lives as they attempt to avoid the hands of demonic inmates and escape an abandoned prison. The prison is unlike anything they have encountered before as the unexpected awaits their arrival.

Following his dream of filmmaking, local father John Tomasek captures this story in his most recent film, Hell’s Half Acre.

Tomasek recently retired from his job as vice president of operations at an insurance company and is now working on his filmmaking career full-time with his first feature film, Hell’s Half Acre and has even incorporated his daughter, freshman Ariana Tomesek, into his movies.

“[Throughout all my life] I’ve been a writer, I was an actor early on in high school and I started doing short films after high school,” John said. “Things kind of went on the backburner for many years and then came back full circle [when I] started writing screenplays and creating content [again].”

In Hell’s Half Acre, which was filmed in August and September, John wanted to focus on the aspect of giving back to his community. Whether it be from filming at his house, a local business, or even a park, John aspired to incorporate Glenview into his motion picture.

“I wanted to film in our backyard, so to speak,” John explained. “We have other projects that we’re planning on filming in Glenview because I want to be able to support our local community and businesses.”

From as young as the age of 7, Ariana has had a passion for acting. Although acting was not as important to her then as it is now, she has come to realize how significant her role as an actress is.

“I’ve always wanted to be an actress and [my dad] made short films, so I wanted to see how I would do [acting in one],” Ariana said. “I just fell in love with it. Ever since then I have been in his movies.”

John Cowlin, English and film teacher, said that one can advance their acting skills by practicing as often as possible without worrying too much about quality. Whether it is telling a story or making a podcast, Cowlin explained the significance of creating a character other than yourself.

“Act as much as you can and seek out acting resources,” Cowlin said. “[Do] whatever you can: join drama club, try out for shows, make videos, create characters and annoy your family.”

The best part of John Tomasek’s job is getting to watch the words that he writes come to life on the screen,  he said. He is grateful that he gets to watch his dreams come true in this way because he was fortunate enough to connect with someone who believes in him, John said.

“I like the fact that you can basically do what you can dream,” John said. “If you can think it, write it and then be lucky enough to get someone to believe in it, you can actually see what you’ve written come to life. I think that’s the greatest part of [my job].”

Throughout the years, Ariana explained that acting has taught her many valuable lessons, including the value of patience and hard work. These experiences have given her the hope to have an acting career in years to come, Ariana explained.

“It’s a really cool experience being in my dad’s movies,” Ariana said. “I kind of want to pursue [acting] as a ‘big thing.’”