Ben Watts and Phillip Briggs always had wanted to come back and film a movie in the Southeast.
Watts’ latest film, “Blood of Man,” was shot last week at locations around Troup County, where he grew up.
“It’s my first film done on this level where I can just focus on directing,” Watts said. “I’ve done other short films where I was the whole crew.”
Watts is a 2005 Troup High graduate and graduated from Bucknell University. He’s been living in San Fransisco, working as a freelance editor, and wrote “Blood of Man” there.
He calls it a “coming of age story,” about two brothers in the late 1960s. Older brother Neal and his compulsive liar brother Charlie are out in the woods one summer day, bored, when their love-hate relationship is put to the test by an event.
“It’s not ‘Deliverance,’” he laughs, despite the outdoors location. “It’s more like ‘Stand By Me.’”
Briggs also is a Troup High graduate, although the two did not know each other before this project. Briggs graduated from Troup in 1996 and went to The Academy of Art University. He heard about the film first, then his wife, who also is from here, said she remembered Watts from a church youth group.
“To get to come back here and shoot is just cool,” Briggs said. “And it’s a great script.”
Watts announced his project through the fundraising website, kickstarter.com, and most of the rest of the cast and crew came from connections formed there. Others are local friends of Watts’ family, who still lives here. The majority of the film was shot on Chris and Robin Copeland’s property, off West Point Road. The boys’ grandmother in the film is played by Diane Wright, LaGrange resident Kathy Sargent’s mother.
“I’ve known Ben a long time,” said Wright, who also has experience in the theater in her hometown of Decatur.
William Harrison, 13, of Alpharetta, and Cooper Guy, 10, of Cleveland, Tenn., are the two main characters and already have a long list of film credits. Guy was in a Lifetime movie, Changing Seasons, that will air this fall, and has done other projects. Harrison has been in the Odd Life of Timothy Green, Lawless, Go Island and Unconditional, which has yet to be released.
“I love it,” Harrison said of acting. “It’s a great story, and cast and crew. Ben is amazing.”
Watts would like to see the movie premier in downtown LaGrange this fall to pay tribute to the town he grew up in. After that, it will be entered in film festivals.
“I’d like to have as many people see it as possible,” he said.