Trained local workers help attract filmmakers to Augusta
Amy Rhinehart Bailey has never, in a million years, aspired to be a film producer.
But as a mother of seven and co-owner of two Rhinehart’s Oyster Bar restaurants with her husband Craig, she craves organization.
“The flowcharts absolutely give me goosebumps,” she said. “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail, and we’ve done a tremendous amount of organizing to make it happen. “
By “that” she means the mysterious thriller “Applewood” which began filming in Augusta this month. Bailey is her co-producer and she co-wrote the screenplay. Last week, she was also sorting out some of the production’s food and travel arrangements.
“I have found that I like to produce and edit more than I like to write,” she said.
This level of engagement from Bailey and dozens of other area residents is part of what continues to bring Hollywood filmmakers and independent artists back to Augusta and its growing film industry.
“It doesn’t sound very sexy, but creating depth for the team is the key to getting films through to Augusta,” she said.
For the 2018 sci-fi drama “Encounter,” which Bailey also co-produced, “we’ve put together an almost all-green team on it,” she said. “We’ve had people with experience, a little cutesy experience compared to other things.”
But the experience gained is valuable. Appearing in the end credits of a film as a member of a team helps elevate the status of a worker in a competitive industry. As in most other jobs, the experience accumulated in the cinema increases the opportunity of hiring a worker.
A location with a readily available crew is more likely to persuade a production company to use Augusta, as local talent cuts costs, Bailey said. Outside crew members incur expenses such as hotel rooms and daily living expenses.
Jennifer Bowen, the city’s film liaison for Film Augusta, said having a local team base has been “instrumental” in attracting productions such as Mel Gibson’s recent spy thriller “Agent Game.” “, And in previous years such productions as” The Royal “” Awaken. ”
Typically, there is an average of around 50 local team members who are available to be hired for productions in the Augusta area, Bowen said. This stat is shared with location scouts and “often refers to this as having a crew of around .one-deep. – meaning there are enough local crews to staff a production. both, ”she said.
“Applewood” came to Augusta in part thanks to Bailey’s past collaborations with its director, Robert Hollocks, who also co-wrote the film and co-produced it with Bailey. His resume includes a 13-year stint as vice president of international marketing and creative for Paramount Pictures.
Hollocks was also an executive producer of “Encounter” and did smaller local projects, which allowed him to become familiar with Augusta.
“I love working here,” he says. “The crews are great. The talent is great. It’s a breath of fresh air to meet people so passionate about the industry and so committed to doing high quality work.
Bailey and Hollocks developed the “Applewood” storyline around Augusta’s locations, specifically the unoccupied Victorian house that will be the dilapidated Applewood house in the film, where much of the action takes place.
Other local filming locations include an antique store and an all-terrain vehicle fleet that will appear in the film as war-torn Afghanistan.
“It’s incredibly versatile,” Hollocks said of Augusta. “The first time I came here, I didn’t realize there was so much variety. I am amazed at what people find here when they watch. It can go for almost anywhere.
The film tells the story of a young widow who moves into an old house that the couple intended to restore into guest rooms. After she moves in, Bailey said, inexplicable events unfold “and she ends up solving a 130-year-old mystery about the bad things that happened in this house. It’s fun but it’s scary but it’s not what people think it is.
Like the crew, most of the cast in the film are also local, including all of the main cast.
Augusta’s Kate Dailey, who plays the widow, is “a bit very Jamie Lee Curtis-esque,” Bailey said. John Grove of Grovetown plays the husband in flashbacks. Nathan Rothwell, who works in the City of Augusta’s Utilities Department, pursues acting, writing and directing activities, and Bailey calls him “the next Morgan Freeman.”
Susan Willis, who lives in Graniteville, SC, has earned dozens of movie credits in front and behind the camera and runs her own local talent casting agency.
Aiken musician Alec James Krok plays the villain of the film. Bailey said “Applewood” cinematographer originally wanted Krok to play the “good guy” lead, but she said with a laugh that “we wanted Alec because he looks like a guy I did. would not want near my daughter “.
Members of the home team include Winter Cawley Davis, who created realistic, bespoke Victorian costumes to the director’s style and color specifications.
Augusta’s Terrence Anthony Williams is described by Bailey as “Georgia’s best grip,” meaning he works with an assortment of cameras and lighting equipment.
Bailey credits Bowen, and vice versa, as a strong leader in elevating Augusta’s cinematic presence. But Bailey is also quick to mention Mark Crump, an Evans resident who runs Reflecting Pool Productions, a company that specializes in acquiring labor and equipment to tour film productions.
Crump also lends his expertise personally to film projects, such as “Agent Game”. One of his most recent jobs was as the Atlanta-area stage manager for the horror sequel “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” which opened in theaters on June 4.
“It’s the guy. He’s done more for this film community on his own than anyone, ”Bailey said. “Jennifer Bowen has done a lot and he works in tandem with her, but he really brought the business and kept it in Augusta. He created so much crew depth. He doesn’t have enough credit, to be honest. This is the person who really attracts people and brings them there.
Before appearing on location, the cast and director performed rehearsals through Zoom for about a month, Bailey said. “It really makes a difference – instead of making 30 takes they know their lines and hit their marks. I really believe in organizing the crews,” she said.
Other aspects of Bailey’s life have helped her become “a great security person,” prepared for any eventuality.
Living in Thurmond Lake, when she ventured into town with her seven children, she packed first aid gear in the event of a spill or accident. She found that the same foresight applies to production. The diesel generators on the shelf have backups and extra fuel. Custom-sewn dresses come in matching pairs in case one is damaged.
“And it worked really well,” she said. “I never thought these skills would translate well in the movies, but they do.”