Last but not least
On the set of "The Last Adam"
|Director Ed Banuel directs his troops. (photo: Martin Kelley)|
It's late autumn, but in Georgia it's not supposed to be this windy. It wasn't until the day I visited the set of The Last Adam. Director Ed Banuel sits in the yard of a nice home in the Kirkwood area that will play the home of the title character in the film.
I arrive early to find a CNN crew documenting the activity. I slide around the set trying to stay unnoticed and take in the flow of the production as a fly on the wall.
It doesn't work long as I'm greeted by Banuel and producer Shandra McDonald, who immediately get me indoors for a chat with one of the actors in the film, multiple-gold-medal-winning former track and field star Carl Lewis. Lewis brings his Olympic champion enthusiasm and work ethic to the acting game, and impressed the filmmakers highly. He's more than willing to speak with us about his new passion for acting as well as his experience on The Last Adam (see sidebar).
I'm able to speak with McDonald shortly after, and ask her how it's all coming together.
"Everything has been going really well," she offers. "We'd been blessed with good weather up until today—it's freezing.
"It's just been a labor of love for us...we've learned a lot and we've gotten wonderful footage thus far. We're real excited because it's all come together in such a short time."
McDonald, an experienced producer, has worked on a couple films with Banuel already. She produced Land of the Free, which aired on Showtime, and recently co-produced A Message From Pops, the recipient of the IFP Gordon Parks Award for 2005.
|Producer Shandra McDonald, actor Carl Lewis and director Ed Banuel watch the footage on set. (photo: The Film Collective)|
Her experience as a producer also includes 2002's Vivian, which won first place in the Roxbury Film Festival that year and honorable mention for best film at the Pan African Film Festival the next. Can't Let Go, a short film McDonald directed, wrote and co-produced in Los Angeles, aired on UPN, NBC and ABC in over 100 markets across the country. She is not only the producer on The Last Adam but is also the co-writer along with Erroll Bailey.
The Last Adam tells the story of six racially-diverse childhood friends who are forced to revisit their painful pasts when they return to their hometown in the deep South to plan the funeral of their beloved little league coach and mentor. The project was the recipient of the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival's Southeastern Media Award.
McDonald is quick to praise the cast. "We've got some great actors and that's really making a difference," she says.
The talented cast features, in addition to Lewis, Leonard Roberts (Drumline, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) in the lead role of Bobby Jackson, and Tony Award-nominated actress Anita Gillette (Shall We Dance, Moonstruck) as Betty Adams. The rest of the talented cast includes Jose Yenque (Traffic), and Corinne de Groot, winner of the reality TV show The Next Action Star. Karla Droege and Ted Huckabee, familiar and well-regarded faces on the Atlanta indie film scene, are part of the ensemble cast as well.
I asked Banuel how his experience differs on the set of his first feature from his past experiences on several short films.
|DP Parrish Smith (seated) readies his next take with the help of his crew. (photo: Martin Kelley)|
"The whole process has been one of discovery," he says. "You read the script and you envision it one way, but when you actually get out on the set and work with the actors and crew it all comes to life
"It's like layers and layers of intersections that lead to one big highway. The one big thing I've learned is that you have to be open minded and let things take shape."
As I am about to leave, Anita Gillette sings out some dialogue against the wind. The scene feels right to Ed, so they move on.
The Last Adam looks to be turning out very well, and we wish them good luck with the rest of the shoot.
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).