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Making a Movie in My Backyard

A German Explores...

what could possibly go wrong?

Making a Movie in My Backyard

Cleveland Willis, model and actor
Cleveland Willis
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The Georgia Film Commission has done a fantastic job attracting movie productions to Atlanta, its surrounding areas as well as to the rest of the state; especially since 2002 when a variety of movie tax incentives were introduced.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen film crews at work on my street alone on several occasions. And this past June, the movies came even closer. There were lights, cameras, and action in my own backyard.

My “backyard” are the woods of the Chattahoochee River.

It was a beautiful Thursday morning, and I woke up unseasonably early. 6:45 AM is usually not my time. After tossing and turning for a while, I decided to get up and start the day early. All against my better judgment, of course.

When I was ready at 8 AM, we had a beautifully mild 68 degrees. If you know Atlanta in the summer, you know 68 is mild. To take advantage and start the day right, I decided to go on a walk in the woods in my backyard. So far, an uneventful, everyday occurrence for me.

This morning, though, the moment I approached the trailhead, a forlorn young man stumbled out of the woods. Long, dark tousled hair, leaves and pine needles all over him, full-sleeve tattoos on both arms. And blood. Lots of blood. It took a moment, but yes, he was covered across his face, around his neck and onto his shirt in blood.

“This is fake! Right?” I asked him. But honestly, I was afraid of the answer. What kind of weirdo did I run into this morning? I was ready to take him to the hospital.

“Yes. We’re making a movie.”

Oh dear Jesus, thank you!

After my brain went through the first round of computing when I first took note of all the details, there were clearly just two options: I had run into an occultic high priest who just finished an early-morning role-play in the forest, or a junkie who got lost in the woods the night before and had stumbled through the underbrush all night.

“Yes. We’re making a movie.”

Clearly, he was messed up well. Kudos to the make-up artist!

The film crew was a six-person team: four (gorgeous) girls and two guys. If I had known that the ratio of film crews would look like this in 2017, I definitely would have chosen a different career.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera to take pictures and show you my bloody friend (who turned out to be Cleveland Willis) and the rest of the crew. But here’s a shot of my trail in the woods they used for shooting.

Dark trail in the woods at the Chattahoochee River

Looks like it has Blair Witch Project written all over, doesn’t it?

Now, their movie will be a thriller; an indie production that they hope to enter into various local film festivals.

Their working title is “Devil by His Side,” and the release is scheduled for September 2017. Let’s look out for them. Can’t wait to see my backyard in the movies. Good luck guys!

As we parted, Cleveland as well as the rest of the crew thanked me for checking on the beat-up stranger when I first ran into him and offering to help. Sadly, sadly, they told me independently from one another that the majority of people they met that morning just walked by and ignored them. No questions asked, no help offered.

Let’s hope their movie has a better ending.


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