It seems each month brings news of another Hollywood film crew coming to Cobb and Cherokee counties to take advantage of all we have to offer. The latest excitement centered around the news of Netflix purchasing the former Little River Grille in neighboring Cherokee County for production of a new series “Ozarks,” starring Jason Bateman. It’s a boost to our economy for sure, and a lot of fun for stargazers.
There is one short film called “Life Sliding,” in development to become a feature film that is 100 percent local. Starting with screenwriter/author S.L. Mauldin, a Cherokee County native who lives in Woodstock.
Mauldin is getting ready for the midAugust premiere of “Life Sliding,” based on a book he wrote that he said “explores bullying and preconceived notions about people through the perspective of a popular kid versus the perspective of the person being bullied or judged.”
Each of the 5060 people involved in the threeday filming project is a local resident; a few live in Atlanta but the majority are from Cobb and Cherokee counties.
The main character Gavin is played by 2015 Etowah High graduate Curt Roland, a seasoned actor. Woodstock High grad Alec Caslow did sound design. Awardwinning Hagen Mattingly is director, Michael Wheeler plays Jacob, and Eric Hernandez is cinematographer/assistant director, all Allatoona High alums.
Mattingly has won awards for four short films he worked on in an annual Cobb County high school film festival (three second place finished, and one third place). The last film he wrote, directed and edited by himself was called “Freeloader.” He also won an award from the “High School Emmys,” which he described as a film festival of sorts held along the southeast coast. He earned first place for a commercial he wrote, directed and acted in for Allatoona High School’s coffee shop.
“Allatoona had an excellent drama program. I didn’t get involved with the drama program until my senior year because I knew that acting was a good way to become a better writer. Throughout high school, I was involved in the video production program called ABBC,” Mattingly said, who graduated from Allatoona High in 2015. “My time spent in that program allowed me to learn everything about putting together short comedic sketches for the morning announcements and short films. From writing the scripts to operating the camera to working with stubborn people, I got a fair amount of experience. That program was actually how I got involved with all of those festivals I won awards from. I became the first student to be a major member of the program for all four years of high school since nobody ever really entered the program until they were juniors.
Talin Mattocks, 11, plays Caleb in the film. The Pine Mountain Middle School student inherited his love of film from his mother Rozalyn Mattocks and grandmother Pam Yother, Mauldin said. He acts in plays at his church, First United Lutheran in Kennesaw, and recently starred in the film “Option 3” written by his mom.
While Mauldin was casting the film, he attended a production of “Hairspray” at Cherokee High School, where he found students Tess Reboucus, Sydney Warren, and Levi Lanier for speaking roles, with others picked as extras.
With a local cast and crew in place, Mauldin didn’t have to go far for the three days of filming.
Day 1 filming took place at Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage in Woodstock, which let Mauldin transform one of the real estate offices into a therapist’s office. In the afternoon, cast and crew moved to The Ugly Mug Café in a Holly Springs subdivision.
Day 2 filming took place at Allatoona High School. On Day 3, Mauldin rented Wildlife Action Center, a private outdoor facility that was a perfect setting for scenes of Camp Lift Me Up, where much of the action takes place.
Mauldin hopes the film encourages viewers to take a moment and understand that everyone has a story that makes up who they are and explains why they behave as they do.
“The words, ‘Seek first to understand,’ might be the key to stifle the conflicts in our families, backyards, and around the world,” Mauldin said. “Also, adults often forget what it is like to be a teenager. It is a rapid shift from the playground to dealing with matters of love, relationships and sliding into the adult world. I look forward to the feature length version of ‘Life Sliding’ being viewed around the world.”
Photos courtesy of Joseph Wilson