It’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait for a handful of filmmakers are Walker County natives and currently in the middle of shooting their first full-length feature film.
The group of aspiring filmmakers banded together over the last few years to create the Atlanta-based Cindicate Productions, and now the friends have returned home to make a feature film inspired by characters from one of their earlier short films.
Producer and actor Geoff James, director and writer Christopher Flippo and director of photography and producer Ben Greene are natives of Walker County, and were all part of Ridgeland High School’s class of 2005.
Greene and Flippo are both from Rossville, and James is from Chickamauga and LaFayette.
After the success of their short film, “The Future West,” the crew decided to expanded the story of the two main characters, “Wally” and “Sugar Baby,” and are now telling a late twenties coming-of-age story about the two in the feature “Down and Yonder.”
“So far, it’s been great,” said producer Geoff James, who pulls double duty playing the loveable “Sugar Baby.” “We’ve had some really hot days of filming, and some of us are working together for the first time, but there’s really a lot of excitement.”
The nine-day shoot began on Saturday, July 25, and will continue through Saturday, Aug. 2.
James, Flippo, Greene, and their crew spend Monday, July 27, filming nighttime bar scenes at Phibbs Bar & Grill in Rock Spring.
Day one involved the shooting of interior scenes and green screen truck shots in Flintstone, Ga., and day two featured a lot of work in “Sugar Baby’s” home.
“Yesterday was a fun hot day,” director Christopher Flippo said. “We shot 13 pages in 13 hours, which is a lot of stuff, so we accomplished what we needed for the day.”
Flippo said the film is off to a great start, which means that all the hard work the crew has put in over the past year is now paying off.
Cindicate Productions started an indiegogo campaign earlier this year, at which time friends, family, and supports began donating to the film effort.
That campaign netted the project nearly $15,000 in two months, which was more than enough to make the dream a reality.
“It’s been cool to watch it all get to this point,” James said. “Everybody involved has read the script, so everyone is really excited about it. I think with independent film it feels like almost everybody involved feels like they own a little piece of it, so it’s not just us.”
Aside from Flippo and Greene, James says the rest of the crew was filled out by film folks who were already friends or colleagues.
“All of these crew members have been troopers. We’re working well together and getting everything on time, which is wonderful. All of us knew somebody, or had worked with somebody before, and it’s been cool now that we’ve all come to work together for the first time on this.”
James also says that unlimited support from people like Phibbs and other property owners has played a big role in allowing the team to get the shots they need.
“We’re here all because of the people who have helped us. A lot of people have donated time, food, locations and things….like today, Jason Phibbs has been great in letting us shoot here. There’s no way we could have gotten all this done without him. He let us basically take over his bar for a day, and didn’t even blink. He’s been super nice, and we owe him a lot for this.”
Once the camera rolled for the first time, James says it all starting falling into place.
“It’s been thrilling to watch everybody,” he said. “After the first couple of takes, it started to click, and now we’re rolling along great.”
Throughout the shoot, James says lunch will be provided by local restaurants that too have been very supportive by donating meals for everyone on set.
Monday’s lunch break was special. The cast and crew ate salad, lasagna, spaghetti, breadsticks, and other goodies, which were all provided by one of the production’s biggest supporters, James’ mother.
“Yeah, my mom, Rosemary James, fed us today,” James said. “She’s been great to us, and always takes care of us.”
More information about the “Down and Yonder” film can be found at Cindicate Productions.