AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – You could feel the excitement last month as Mel Gibson filmed in downtown Augusta. And now that the height of the pandemic is over, the film industry can say, “Lights, Camera, Action!”
Brendan Thompson is a writer, with a bit of stage acting experience too. So, he was sold on coming to the Garden City to make his screenplay dreams a reality.
“If I could put together a screenplay and come to Augusta then everything was on hand to just film it,” he said he was told when bringing his horror film ‘Night To Day’ to the area. He said it is in post production now, but is in need of COVID relief to continue.
While filming, he said he noticed quickly there were other needs.
“Having real incentives and real partnership where as a filmmaker I can pick up the phone, call somebody in the city and have a problem solved,” he explained. “When I was making my movie, I’m really sorry to say because I hate to be negative where the community is involved, but the city did nothing but stand in my way.”
While it’s the resources for Thompson, who has since moved productions out of Augusta and into Warrenton, Georgia to create a Western style movie studio, Mark Crump, who’s working as a Production and Location Manager on a local film, said the city is getting its mojo back after the COVID-19 pause.
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Crump told us, “A lot of us had to take jobs out of town just to keep employed and just to keep money coming in. So, unfortunately, we lost a lot of crew.”
That crew base, made up of local people production companies can put to work, now has to be rebuilt. But more is needed.
“We have the locations. That’s great. What we need is a sound stage,” he said. “It would have been nice to keep the jail around. That actually was a big draw for films. The Suicide Squad trailer actually dropped a few weeks ago and that’s a major motion picture that features the jail, even in the trailer.”
Despite COVID-19 sending filming into a break, Jennifer Bowen said creativity did not falter nor did interest in making movies in Augusta. Her office marketed to film people and it paid off; one production just wrapped up and an independent film featuring Mel Gibson in the works now.
“We have about four or so other inquiries, people we are talking to right now,” said Bowen, Film Liaison for Film Augusta.
Bowen added there are a lot of pros to filming in Augusta, such as the Savannah River. But she said there’s still some infrastructure needed.
“It would be fantastic if there were maybe more available warehouse space that could be used to turn into a temporary soundstage,” she said.