Sit down or hold onto something. I am about to shock you. I actually want to thank former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis.
Because of Ellis’ stubbornness in not appropriating additional dollars for upgrades at historic Luther Williams Baseball Field, the outdated venue has become attractive to Hollywood.
When stories developed in 2002 that the Macon Braves requested Macon City Council and the Ellis administration approve much needed renovations around the ballpark, Ellis balked. It was no secret that Ellis wanted Time Warner, the Braves parent company (1996-2005) to ante-up for any facility revitalization.
After the dust settled, the score ended with Braves 1, Macon 0, as the baseball organization moved its Class A minor league team to Rome. That city voted in favor of a special purpose local option sales tax plan that helped fund construction of a 5,100 seat, $14.9 million facility.
Almost 10-years after the Braves’ departure, the outdated park may see happier days again, serving as a movie backdrop that features actor Clint Eastwood. (I know some folks are thinking Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character is just who we need to clean up some crime issues in this city.)
Sources familiar with the motion picture industry whispered in my ear last week about the potential filming by a major motion picture studio in and around Macon. Apparently a location scout visited Luther Williams and vicinity and was charmed by the 83-year-old relic, its architecture and surroundings. I’ve been told that Dawsonville will also reap benefits from the filming of this baseball-themed movie.
If the project comes to fruition and there is no reason to think that it won’t, a visit by Hollywood filmmakers will be a benefit to our city and the news should make a certain band of local movie makers very happy.
First, stop to consider the initial impact this filming could have on Macon. Visits by movie stars the caliber of any those listed in the pre-production of the movie, “Trouble with the Curve,” would be enormous. Website movie databases list Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman as having roles in an upcoming Warner Bros. movie. Details of the planned motion picture seem to loosely fit what sources are telling me, although no official word or comment from the studio.
The residual effects of filming here could be equally as strong. Think of how life in sleepy Juliette has changed since 1991 when Fannie Flagg’s production of “Fried Green Tomatoes” put a spot called the Whistle Stop Café on the map. You have to go out of your way to visit Juliette, and a lot of tourists do just that.
Now I need to thank current Mayor Robert Reichert for his diligence in naming the five current members to the Macon Film Commission. A task he took very seriously by naming volunteers who have practical filmmaking experience.
In 2010, Reichert appointed the following members; Elliott Dunwody, Cindy Hill, Terrell Sandefur, Stephanie Shadden and Tabitha Walker. These volunteers love Macon and are fully invested year-round in attracting filmmakers to this area. Each year they join others in organizing Macon’s film festival that draws a wide range of talent to our city.
Their efforts have paid-off in multiple ways by bringing attention to our community and working with the Georgia Film Commission. No doubt their contacts were valuable in making this project to be shot in March a reality.
When I asked Reichert about the work of the film commission attracting scouts to our area he boosted, “It’s exciting to hear how often studios look to Macon as a potential location, and it’s even better to hear that more may be on the way.”
Congratulations are in order to the local film commission members who have been working diligently to attract national film companies. You’ve helped “make my day.”
Kenny Burgamy serves as a marketing consultant and is co-host of the Kenny B. Charles E., TV, radio and Internet program.