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Will Groveport go Hollywood?

That’s what Groveport resident Benjamin Johnson would like to see as he approached Groveport Village Council at its July 9 meeting with a proposal to shoot scenes from his new screenplay on the village’s Main Street sometime in the spring or fall of 2008.

Johnson said Groveport has the right feel to portray the "small town in Ohio" featured in his film.

"Groveport is gorgeous and picturesque," said Johnson. "We could film in Hollywood and elsewhere, but I’d like to do it here."

He said shooting the film in the village would boost the area’s economy as those working on the film would eat in the town’s restaurants and purchase supplies from area stores. He added the movie would also draw future film buffs and visitors to the village.

"How many women do you think dragged their men to the top of the Empire State Building after ‘An Affair to Remember’ came out in ’57?" asked Johnson in a letter to council. "The cornfield in Iowa has had 600,000 visitors to it since 1989 when ‘Field of Dreams’ came out."

Johnson said his "thriller/mystery" screenplay, which would be rated "R" for violence, tells the story of a young man who robs a bank and then goes on a "leap frogging" murder spree from an Ohio small town to New Orleans.

Johnson’s screenplay originally began as a novel in 1992, but after completing the work, he decided the story would work better as a movie.

The film requires that, locally, seven scenes be shot on Groveport’s Main Street, five in a bank, two in a library, and five in an area apartment. He said Main Street would have to be temporarily shut down for a short time and it is expected filming in Groveport would last a week. Johnson said the Groveport scenes would take up "roughly 15 to 20 minutes" of the two hour film.

Though it’s an independent film, Johnson said famed actress Olivia de Havilland has sent a letter of intent to appear in the movie and the filmmakers are in discussion with current stars Drew Barrymore and Claire Danes for possible roles.

In a letter to Groveport Village Council, Johnson wrote, "With an independent film, showing some seriousness to investors is key. Once 10 percent of the budget is in escrow, we can begin to intensely attract interest in the film from large money investors. Currently there are two independent investors and we have a 10 percent tax credit for portions of the film shot there. I am asking for whatever the village council feels it can afford to contribute and the authority to, at some future date, gain access to the downtown area of Groveport for film production. In exchange, I will allow the village of Groveport to publicize, using the name of the film, in any positive way…and to reap all benefits from these activities."

Council members expressed an interest in Johnson’s proposal and asked him to provide them with more information on the project before they make a decision.

Information on the film can be viewed at www.benjaminsjohnson.com.

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