AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta’s film industry became popular a few years ago and now more and more people choose the Garden City to put on the big screen and streaming services.
The Royal made its red carpet debut in the place that gave it life.
“Augusta has a little bit of everything, so you could make various genres work here,” said Warren Ostergard a Line Producer for The Royal.
City leaders and others in the community joined actors and the film crew at Riverwatch Cinemas in Augusta Wednesday, to watch the movie filmed mostly in Augusta, from the old prison to May Park and Lake Olmstead. Other locations, such as Le Chat Noir, Craft and Vine and Miller Theater were used, with the help of Producer Mark Crump.
“Augusta is poised and ready to grow in the film industry. So that is why I made sure I found everything there,” said Crump, who just wrapped up a BET movie filmed here.
The Royal tells the story of former Kansas City Royal Slugger Willie Mays Aikens, who’s career hit a road block during his drug addiction. The movie shows how Mays turns his life around and returns to the team. It’s one of three movies Ostergard made happen using Garden City locations for production.
“It’s a story of resilience of the human spirit. It’s a man who was sentenced to 21 years in prison. He did 14 years. Our movie opens up with him walking out those prison doors and reconnecting with his life,” said Ostergard, who also did Agent Game with Mel Gibson and The Hill staring Dennis Quaid locally.
The Royal made a limited theatrical release and can be seen on streaming services, including Apple TV, something many filmmakers provide so people can watch at home. That’s a move Shatareia Stokes made for her first film shot in Augusta, Prescription for Love, a story of a successful attorney who appears to have it all but her life unravels when she runs for political office.
“Everyone is binge watching their favorite movies, their favorite shows on streaming services. So, to have something be on Amazon Prime where you can shop and then go get your movies, it’s amazing,” the Director and Actor said. She added her film, available on Tubi, Vudu, Hoopla and Amazon Prime, was specifically shot at Humanitree House.
Film Augusta Film Liaison Jennifer Bowen told us, “It is all about the state of Georgia’s film tax credit. And so many film companies want to shoot in Georgia for that reason. Atlanta is getting over saturated.” She added The Royal generated an estimated $600,000 spent locally when it filmed here in 2019.
Photojournalist: Regynal McKie