A horror film being produced in Rome hopes to tackle racism in its various forms, by presenting it in a short psychological thriller.
The independent short, “Jedidiah,” is written and directed by Lauren Jones Hillman and explores the story of a couple who find a dilapidated lawn jockey statue in a lake. After bringing the statue home, their own prejudices — aided by the statue’s desire for revenge — dissolve their lives into a deadly nightmare.
Based on actual events
Jones Hillman said she was was inspired to write the film after her husband discovered an actual lawn jockey statue in a lake in 2015.
“One day Michael brought this frightening looking statue to the back door of the house we were renting. It had been out there for decades,” she said. “The statue had been exposed to the elements for so long which eroded away most of his appearance, except the whites of its eyes and the black of its pupils. It looks really unnerving.”
After researching and learning about the statue’s origins, Jones Hillman decided to create the film.
“These statues are extremely offensive caricatures of African Americans, and are predominantly pre-Civil Rights Era,” she said. “But even in the past few years, we’ve seen a White Supremacy-Neo-Nazi group demonstrate in Rome and a rise in police brutality against African Americans nationwide.
“Racism and prejudices are so very prevalent today and we can’t tip-toe around these issues,” she added. “I wanted to make a horror film, so I decided to also give it a message, too.”
Gary Jones, a producer of the film, said “Jedidiah” will evoke strong emotions from audience members.
“‘Jedidiah’ skillfully uses symbolism of the past to haunt and coerce us into confronting our own misgivings about race and perpetuated stereotypes, all while leading us into the dark,” he said. “You’ll want to watch it again and again to capture all the rich symbolism painted throughout the film and its strong message.”
In addition to area production team members, several professionals from the Atlanta film industry were key members of the team.
“My entire crew has been completely amazing,” Jones Hillman said. “Their professionalism and expertise has made this process go extremely smoothly.”
The ‘Jedidiah’ production has partnered with local organization Peacefully Engaging the Rome Community. PERC bridges cultural gaps in the Rome community by creating awareness, providing platforms and educational resources for people of all walks of life through the arts.
“Once ‘Jedidiah’ runs a festival circuit, I’m interested in hosting a screening to benefit local organizations that help foster diversity and also have conversations of inclusivity in our own community,” Jones Hillman said.
‘Jedidiah’ was filmed in both Floyd County locations as well as the Milledgeville area.
A Grassroots Industry
‘Jedidiah’ is the third short film produced by Rome-area filmmakers this summer, the first having been “Tate’s Hell” by Rome International Film Festival Director Seth Ingram and the second being “Scavenger Hunt” by Shorter University film professor Katherine Dudley.
Atlanta-area film industry professionals worked on all three film projects, aiming to put the Northwest Georgia region on the map as a fruitful industry for both independent and professional film projects.
“I love independent filmmaking and while I would like to see this area develop its own voice, professional crew is needed to achieve this,” said Seth Ingram “One of my goals is to help build a sustainable crew base in the area to work on future projects.”
“I truly believe we’re on track for creating a budding film industry right here in Northwest Georgia,” says Jones Hillman. “Between the gorgeous, authentic locations we have to offer and the level of artistic talent already here, we have all the makings of a successful independent regional film industry.”