Page 4 of 5
Juliette's renewal may even bring it back to the screen a second time. Atlanta filmmaker/musician Neill Calabro had no intention of making another film after the poor reception to his quirky first feature, Cultivision. Juliette's charms changed his mind after a visit in 2003. "It reminded me of when you went to Helen, Ga., in the 1970s, when it was so quaint and neat, but now it's so overcrowded and built up. I thought Juliette could die out or it could boom like Helen, which would be terrible, too. So I thought, why not make a movie about it now, while it's still like it was when the movie finished 15 years ago?"
Currently, Calabro is completing his self-financed, all-volunteer documentary on Juliette called Fried Green Tomorrows. He hopes to get Fannie Flagg to narrate the history section, open the film in Macon before the end of the year, then shop it around to Southern or regional-interest TV outlets and finally to the film festival circuit. Calabro has been paying for the film by working temp jobs, including one as a stand-in for the cast of Randy and the Mob. At the shoot, he wore a green T-shirt that read "Get Fried in Juliette, Ga."
It's an example of the unpredictable impact of movies: Someone can work on one film, to help fund their own film, about the lasting influence of yet another film.
A TIGHT SHOT on Ray McKinnon, standing among the pine trees and of the Starrsville Plantation. The camera backs up to reveal that the image is on a monitor, and McKinnon is watching his own performance in an editing suite in Los Angeles.
The headaches of production behind him, McKinnon now wrestles with the headaches of post-production. The dove hunt on the last day of shooting turned out to be no big deal -- "Keeping a pantsuit clean was much more difficult" -- but a whole day's worth of negatives were lost in transit from Los Angeles to Atlanta and might require a return for reshoots.
McKinnon is trying to decide whether a cut of Randy and the Mob can be made ready in time to submit to the Sundance Film Festival in January. As he studies the different takes, he says "It's not exactly the movie I had in mind, but there may be one even better in here. I'm still looking for it."
One of McKinnon's driving passions is to record the real South, not the countrified, stereotypical Hollywood South. His short film "The Accountant" begins as a dark comedy worthy of Flannery O'Connor and segues into an eerily convincing conspiracy theory of how corporations and the media marginalize the Southern way of life. As the quirky accountant of the title, McKinnon rails against the preponderance of clownish fictional Southerners -- "Bubba, Gomer, Goober, Cletus, Enos, Cooter, Jethro, Ellie Mae, Billy Bob! Don't insult my intelligence!" -- and how they serve to confuse and manipulate the honest rural working man, "until he starts actin' country instead of bein' country."
While making "The Accountant," McKinnon wondered if anyone else would "get it." "I certainly hoped it would resonate with Southerners, especially a certain kind of Southerner who's thoughtful, who's gone to Jackson, Miss., and said, 'This could be anywhere in America.' Because everywhere you go, there's Chili's for ribs and Best Buys and the Hilton. You could be in Jackson, or you could be in Southern California."
McKinnon found a firsthand example of the "mall-ization" of the South when he scouted for a suitable farmhouse for "The Accountant." "It needed to be within a 35-mile radius of Atlanta or it would cost more," he recalls. "But I found out that a 35-mile radius of Atlanta, was Atlanta. We're lucky we found Villa Rica, but one day it's all going to be filled in."
Filming on authentic Southern locations can be, if nothing else, a way to record them for posterity. "The landscape where we live is changing so much that the places you film off the beaten path soon may not exist."
After completing Randy and the Mob's final cut, McKinnon and company will seek a distributor -- a process that can be as arduous as making a movie in the first place. Add in time for selling and marketing, and Randy and the Mob probably won't reach theaters before next fall.
With a budget of just under $2 million, it's a small, independent film, but McKinnon's a kind of cultural entrepreneur whose ideas deserve investment; he's the rare filmmaker who's not just interested in explaining the South to itself, but who's qualified to do so.
"According to Forbes, John C. Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media Corp. (which purchased the Atlanta…
Socialized risk, privatized gains, please direct me to your blog (or at least come and…
"What I don't think some people (including you) are willing to admit is how their…
drinking and driving is a douchebag move, wesley.