Talk of movie excites town

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The talk that scenes for a Hollywood film could be filmed on the streets of Groveport has created a buzz around town.

"I have met with individuals here in Groveport who are extremely excited at the prospect of filming," wrote Groveport resident Benjamin Johnson, who penned the screenplay for the film "I-59 South," in a letter to Groveport Village Council dated July 23.

Johnson told council that area business leaders have requested their businesses be featured in the film and that he has received a "100 percent positive" response about the potential of filming in the village from individual citizens.

"The feedback is tremendous…every bit of it positive and encouraging…it will be a boon for the economy and shot of excitement and vitality," wrote Johnson.

Johnson originally 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.

Noting the village government’s financial support of the town’s festival of the arts of $20,000 this past year, as well as its $25,000 per year for 10 years donation to Motts Military Museum, Johnson requested the village contribute $25,000 towards the film. He said the village’s "one time investment" in the film "would ensure the filming on location here in Groveport as it would put me one step closer to fully funding the 10 percent necessary in an independent film."

Johnson has stated the film could be shot on a back lot in Hollywood, but he would prefer to shoot scenes in the village instead. Groveport, according to Johnson, has the right feel to portray the "small town in Ohio" featured in his film.

Johnson 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.

About the film

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.

Big name stars

Though it’s an independent film, Johnson said famed actress Olivia de Havilland has sent a letter of intent to appear in the movie as well as up and coming actor Luke Flynn, who is the grandson of the dashing actor Errol Flynn. The filmmakers are also in discussion with current stars Drew Barrymore (who is a descendent of the great actor Lionel Barrymore) and Claire Danes for possible roles.

"How great would it be to have a movie marquee with the names de Havilland, Flynn, and Barrymore?" asked Johnson, noting the names hearken back to the golden days of Hollywood.

Next steps

Council members have expressed an interest in Johnson’s proposal and will discuss it further at their committee of the whole meeting on Aug. 20 at 6:30 p.m.  in the municipal building at 655 Blacklick St.

Information on the film "I-59 South" may be viewed on Johnson’s Web site at www.benjaminsjohnson.com.

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