AT THE CINEMA 2022: Locally produced films highlight a year of unprecedented focus, spotlight on the region as a whole

Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell in Savannah-shot ‘Devotion’ (Sony)

The 25th SCAD Savannah Film Festival wrapped over a month ago, but a lot of the films that screened at the festival are now out in theaters or streaming online. 

Some of them are already generating Oscar buzz.

Here is a recap of some films that filmed in our area and others that didn’t, but whose stars were at the film festival to talk about their highly anticipated projects.

Filmed in Savannah and surrounding areas is “Devotion.” The movie is an American biographical war film based on the 2015 book “Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice” by Adam Makos, which retells the comradeship between naval officers Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner during the Korean War.

The film stars Jonathan Majors as Brown who was attracted to this project after reading it and finding Brown to be “quite contemporary.”

“He was marginalized, put down and denied access because of his skin color. That story is unfortunately in the DNA of our country. He literally took himself from the mud of Mississippi to the sky and became first Black naval aviator. That, in and of itself, is a high level of difficulty,” said Majors honoring the man he portrayed in the film.

Also starring in the movie is Glen Powell as Hudner, with Christina Jackson, Joe Jonas, Nick Hargrove, Spencer Neville, Thomas Sadoski, and Daren Kagasoff in supporting roles. 

The movie was written by Jake Crane and Jonathan Stewart and directed by J. D. Dillard. Dillard spoke about his time filming in the area.

“It’s going to sound like I’m lying, but Savannah is the best place I’ve ever shot. It’s incredibly warm by way of the people that are here. It’s so great to have such a great art school so close to your production,” said Dillard who was happy to be back in Savannah to share the film at the festival.

Dillard’s assistant went to SCAD. There were a variety of locals working on this film in above the line and below the line positions. In addition to SCAD students and grads, there were also students and alums from the Savannah Film Academy at Savannah Technical College that worked on this film as well.

“Devotion” was released on November 23 and is out in theaters now. 

You might have missed “Knives Out: Glass Onion” since it was on in theaters one week November 23 to 29. This is the highly anticipated sequel to the 2019 film “Knives Out,” with Daniel Craig reprising his role as master detective Benoit Blanc as he takes on a new case.

This one again brings together a stellar cast including actress and singer Janelle Monáe. She got to speak with some SCAD students while attending the festival.

“These are going to be game changers and shape shifters, and they’re going to do that through storytelling, through being right here. I remember also being at performing art school and wanting to have somebody like myself come in and talk to me and give me some gems and tell me it’s going to be okay,” said Monáe.

Monáe credits her mother with encouraging her and paving the way for her to do the things she’s done in life. Monae’s mom was at the festival with her cheering her on and encouraging the crowd to see the new ‘Knives Out’ movie.

The ensemble cast includes Monáe, Edward Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Madelyn Cline, Kate Hudson, and Dave Bautista. The movie will be out on Netflix on December 23.

Serving up madness on a platter is “The Menu.” This black comedy/horror film directed by Mark Mylod was filmed in Savannah. 

Cast member Aimee Carrero was at the film festival and she talked about the experience of working on this project.

“It was a good script, which is hard to find. I’ve always wanted to work with Fox Searchlight, it was kind of a dream come true to do because I feel like they made the best movies I like to watch. I also got to work with John Leguizamo one-on-one. and that was dream come true,” Carrero.

Carrero, who has worked on several projects in Atlanta, was thrilled to work on a project in Savannah and enjoyed getting to know the city and working with local crew.

“The crews were fabulous because they’ve had so much experience. Georgia is like the new Hollywood, so we just had a ball,” she said.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Reed Birney, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo. “The Menu” is in theaters now.

“Wednesday” is now out on Netflix.  This coming-of-age supernatural comedy/horror television series is based upon the character Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family. 

Created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, it stars Jenna Ortega as the title character.

While at the festival for the screening of the movie “X” Ortega also talked about the popular record-breaking  show on the streaming network.

“I do feel freedom in the fact that I am starting with kind of a clean plate with a new generation. It’s interesting kind of making her my own and adding my own little choice while also staying true to what everyone knows and loves about Wednesday already,” said Ortega.

The show also features Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzmán, Isaac Ordonez, Gwendoline Christie, Riki Lindhome, Jamie McShane, Fred Armisen, and Christina Ricci (who played the character in the 1990’s films) appearing in supporting roles.

“It was a really wonderful project for me to be on and I worked with some really talented, iconic people and for that it was very good,” said Ortega.

“A Savannah Haunting,” a local-lensed feature film based on a true story, debuted at the Royal Cinemas IMAX on Oct. 28 in Pooler.

“So many local Savannah individuals and companies and local establishments came together and gave us a huge amount of support that allowed us to make the movie… For us, the film feels like a love letter to Savannah,” said writer and director William Mark McCullough in a previous interview with Connect Savannah.

A Savannah Haunting is in select theaters and available to stream on iTunes.

“Panhandle” released a great video review of our local Savannah locations, cast, and crew. You can see this video on the Film Savannah website at filmsavannah.org

The Spectrum Original television series, follows the eccentric Bell Prescott (Luke Kirby), an agoraphobic arm-chair detective and a reluctant traffic cop Cammie Lorde (Tiana Okoye) as they investigate a murder in their small Florida town.

Another filmed in Georgia project is the feature by Marvel Studios “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” the highly anticipated sequel to “Black Panther.”

“Working on films has changed me because it opened my mind to doing things, I never thought I’d do though I dreamed about it, now I am in the industry doing it,” said Patrick Tennerson a graduate of the Georgia Film Academy that worked as a staff walkie production assistant in the AD department on the movie.

The production permeated the Georgia economy with more than $314 million in local economic activity, according to data from Disney and Marvel Studios. The production also created more than 1,800 local jobs for Georgia residents and supported many local businesses.

Governor Brian Kemp announced in August that film and television industry productions spent $4.4 billion in Georgia during the fiscal year 2022 as the industry continues to boom in Georgia as well as the Coastal Empire.


About The Author

Kareem McMichael

Kareem McMichael is a filmmaker, documentarian, writer, and multimedia content creator. The Macon native enjoys entertainment, and sharing with locals and visitors’ stories about Savannah’s art and culture scene. When he is not working, he enjoys relaxing at the beach, grabbing a drink, hitting a fun art event,...
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