Stars back in school

Published 5:09 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2010

|Brennen Leathers

Filming of the faith-based feature movie “Fishers of Men” continued this week at two old school campuses that will be portrayed as Bainbridge High School in the movie.

The movie, which follows the lives of twin brothers Pete and Andy in 1950s Bainbridge, has had many people abuzz as it transforms local landmarks and incorporates local people into scenes.

One of the highlights of the movie will be scenes of the fictional Bainbridge High School’s prom, with filming to take place at the old Climax School on Lee Street in Climax. The southern rock band BadHorse, featuring Bainbridge native Bobby Walden Jr., will portray the band playing at the prom. The main prom scenes will be filmed this week at the school, with several dozen local students joining the stars of the movie at the dance.

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On Monday, the movie’s cast and crew were at the old West Bainbridge Middle School on Dothan Road. The school is the main shooting location that will appear as the fictional Bainbridge High School in the movie.

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Inside the school, stars of the movie and a few lucky local youth and adults filmed in a classroom and a hallway. About 40 to 50 students from Bainbridge High School, Grace Christian Academy and Southwest Georgia Academy, waited in the school’s old auditorium for their chance to be background extras in the movie. All of the students, particularly the girls, had hairstyles and clothing from the 1950s. Several adults were also on hand to play teacher extras.

Later, scenes were filmed outside the old brick school with several classic cars provided by local collectors placed in the background of some shots.

Stars on the set Monday included twin brothers Alex and Graham Miller, who have guest-starred in several hit TV shows and play the movie’s central characters of Pete and Andy Goodwyn; 20-year-old Daniel Samonas, known to younger audiences for his recurring role on the Disney Channel’s “Wizards of Waverly Place;” McKenzie Mauzy,  an up-and-coming TV actress who plays beautiful blonde “Maggie Maloye” and Noell Coet, a Texas girl who has appeared in several independent films and plays one of the Goodwyn’s classmates who impacts their lives with a choice she makes.

Movie, town linked together

From all the local residents playing extras, to the numerous filming locations in and around Bainbridge, the city and its residents are making a big impression on “Fishers of Men.”

Local investors have shown great support for the movie’s budget, said Steven Camp, the film’s executive producer and chief financial officer for production company, Desert Wind Films. Camp said he closed out financing for filming and production of “Fishers of Men” at $2.2 million. The film’s original budget of $1.6 million was expanded with the help of enthusiastic investors who wanted to continue supporting the movie, Camp said. After the 25 days of principal filming is complete, the movie’s producers hope to raise an additional million for marketing and promotion of the film, Camp said.

Meanwhile, the 68-person crew and 41 cast members are in Bainbridge, staying at local hotels and eating at local restaurants. Camp said Desert Wind officials are already discussing the possibility of filming future faith-based movies in Bainbridge.

With “Fishers of Men,” Desert Wind hopes to follow the model of success exhibited by Sherwood Pictures of Albany, which made millions of dollars through theatrical releases of its films “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof.”

“Fishers of Men,” based on a short story, contains genuine messages of faith, sacrifice and redemption that Camp said he expects Christian audiences will welcome. However, the quality of the movie’s production, including the drama of its story and the talent of its performers, should help bring people to theaters to see it, Camp said. The hope is that the movie, in addition to being financially successful, will “lead people to Christ,” he said.

Bainbridge natives make their mark

Zach Lovering, a young man from Bainbridge, has been one of the film’s unexpected success stories, Camp said. Lovering started out by volunteering as an unpaid intern at the film’s production office earlier this summer. Later, Lovering—who has professional film audio training—was invited to join the movie’s sound crew. On Monday, Lovering appeared in the biology class scene and even had a couple of lines, Camp said.

Bobby Walden Jr. is a former football star at Bainbridge High School who went on to play for Auburn University. He’s self-distributed a solo CD and after hooking up with musical partner Adam Grant, is starting to see success as a touring act with BadHorse. Desert Wind plans to finance a music video featuring BadHorse performing their take on “Amazing Grace.” The plan is to interweave footage from “Fishers of Men” with shots of the band performing, to serve as a promotional video for the movie and its soundtrack, which will also feature BadHorse, Camp said.

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BadHorse, which recorded songs by Buddy Holly and Little Richard for the movie’s prom scenes, will be joined on the soundtrack by country superstar Travis Tritt, who in addition to recording a new song for the movie will also appear in it. Tritt will play the role of “Eddie Waters,” who serves as a mentor to “Pete,” one of the twin brothers who is sentenced to prison after being convicted of a crime he did not commit. When Pete begins to lose faith while in prison, Tritt’s character gives him hope and the two become friends, Camp said.

Current BHS senior Ivy Heard got the opportunity to be one of the extras in one of the classroom scenes filmed on Monday. Heard said she was told by co-director Josh Mills to pretend as if she was working on a science report and interact with a model of a butterfly, while Lovering shot a scene with one of the film’s stars, Graham Miller.

Heard said dressing up in a 1950s-style dress was her favorite part of the experience.

“It’s weird how much everything has changed since then,” Heard said. “But it was neat getting to be a part of something my grandparents experience when they were in high school. I made great friends as well as memories that will last forever!”

About the filming locations

The main brick building where filming occurred Monday was built in 1925. Most of the other buildings at what was West Bainbridge Middle School, which closed in Spring 2009, were built in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was also formerly West Bainbridge High School before several smaller high schools consolidated into Bainbridge High School in 1966.

The Climax School, which was an elementary school and high school at different times, is now the site of a HeadStart program for preschoolers. It’s located off Lee Street in the western portion of the town.

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