It's all Good for Shadowlight
On the set of "Good Intentions"
|Director Jim Issa arrives on set.|
(photo: Dan Slemons)
It was a long time coming, but cameras started to roll on Good Intentions in October 2005. The voyage from conception (a script selected as one of the top 50 of Project Greenlight II) through development highs (winner of the 2003 Southeast Media Award) and finally into production is at long last underway. The Shadowlight Pictures' feature film is working its way to completion.
Director Jim Issa related how he became involved in the project. "I worked with Richard Sampson on the first 48-Hour Film Project, White Bitch Down, years ago as a creative person and actor.
"Then we teamed up along with Pamela Peacock, and I directed the 48-Hour film Moved, which won the best movie award at the 48-Hour International Film Festival. Since then, they have hired me on as director for Shadowlight Pictures for commercials, branded media, and now features."
Tony Stephenson's script fit perfectly with Sampson's plans to create feature films with a Southern spirit. Good Intentions tells the story of a wife and mother who just wants to put together enough for a college fund for her children. Her husband, a liquor store proprietor, provides the main obstacle, as he constantly squanders their savings on his amateur inventions. So the wife decides to make quick cash by buying junky antiques and re-selling them for inflated prices. Her seed money: the proceeds from robbing her husband's liquor store.
"I was raised in the South, love the South, and chose to live here [most of the time], so a comedy set here is appealing to me. I thought the script was funny and had plenty of room to add my own comedic style to it," said Issa of what attracted him to the material.
My visit to the set came as they were shooting scenes at the Silver Grill, a nifty little diner right off Atlanta's Monroe Drive which doubled perfectly as a small town eatery. Producers Sampson and Peacock have assembled a really good local crew; they explained that they would be shooting several complete scenes now and packaging that footage to position themselves to finish the film in the coming spring.
Everything was running smoothly from what I could tell, and Sampson confirmed that things were indeed humming along. "Everything is going great," he said. "We've got a very aggressive schedule.
"We're shooting 23 pages in six days, which is like a movie-of-the-week pace, but the results are looking more like a big-budget movie because we've got all these incredible people who know what they're doing." As I watch some of the dailies, I am very impressed with the production values they are getting.
Sampson was appreciative of the boost the project got from winning the SMA.
|Actors Chris Goodman (left) and Jason Leith play out a scene at the Silver Grill diner. (photo: Dan Slemons)|
"The Southeast Media Award has been helpful in two ways. One, it has been an award we can talk about with investors and industry contacts to show one more vote of confidence for our project," he said.
"Two, the award organizers donated much-needed services to us from local vendors that we really wanted to work with, and increased our production values greatly. We're grateful to all the Southeast Media vendors, but have a special thanks for PC&E, Lab 601 and Crawford, who have all extended their commitment to us for Good Intentions."
All the good will for Good Intentions bodes well for the film's ultimate success—and that could allow more projects of its scale to spring up locally. Jim Issa certainly wants to continue to work in Atlanta.
"Absolutely," he affirmed. "Most of my friends and former Whole World Theater actors all moved to Los Angeles. I was the only one from the group to stay, because my family is here and I love it here.
"I think Georgia has great crews and beautiful locations, and since the tax incentive was passed, everyone is busy. You have to plan a good deal in advance to get the best people because everyone is working."
Sampson also feels the climate for Southern independent filmmakers is improving.
"I think the Southeast filmmaking scene is about to be recognized by the rest of the world," he said. "I think it will be like the Athens music scene when all the bands started becoming popular and people said 'Where is Athens, Georgia, and who else is playing music there?'
"This time it will be Hollywood saying, 'Cool stuff coming from Atlanta. What else is there that we should look at?'"
With solid films like Good Intentions and Randy and the Mob—made in the Southeast by Southern filmmakers—making their mark, the world should indeed be taking notice very soon.
Shadowlight Pictures is planning on it, Sampson said. "We have already optioned two more Southern scripts by Southern writers."
The optimism from him is refreshing...and it seems likely to push this project towards a successful conclusion. We'll be watching.
Martin Kelley is a local screenwriter and filmmaker who co-founded and became co-president of the Atlanta Screenwriters Group, one of the largest screenwriter organizations in the Southeast. Martin's screenwriting credits include "Loaded Dice," "Behind the Nine" (Echelon Entertainment) and "Vicious" (M.T.I. Home Entertainment).