By Carole Robinson, Staff Writer
From left at the recent premier of the movie “After” are: Casting Director Sabyn Mayfield, actress and female lead Karolina Wydra, Director Ryan Smith, Producer Brandon Gregory, and actor and male lead Steven Strait.
Franklin-based Seabourne Pictures’ first feature film, “After,” written and directed by Franklin’s own Ryan Smith, opened last week in theaters across the country.
“The idea came out of a Twilight Zone episode,” said Smith who cut his teeth on music videos and short films. “We like to say it’s a Sci-fi thriller. Two people meet on a bus, strike up a conversation and realize they live on the same street.”
The only two survivors, (Steven Strait and Karolina Wydra) they awake to find they are also the only two people left in their small town. Strange events begin to occur and in a race to unravel the truth behind their isolation they form an unlikely alliance and begin to question whether the town they knew and loved is really all it appeared.
The first feature film for partners and best friends Smith and Brandon Gregory, “This was really an ambitious project,” Smith admitted. “We weren’t sure it could be done on this level with this kind of budget.”
“It was highly ambitious but it kept us going,” said Gregory, formerly of Carmike Cinemas. “It was definitely a challenge.”
The irony is the film was born out of wanting to do something really inexpensively. With a monster and special effects, “It became more expensive than we thought,” Gregory said.
A three-year project that started in 2009, one year was spent writing the script. Location filming began the day after Thanksgiving 2010 in Alabama and lasted a month.
“We got turned on to Alabama because of the tax incentives for filmmakers,” said Gregory.
However, with the writing and post-production editing and special effects, far more time was spent in Tennessee than filming in Alabama.
“Most of the film was made in house,” Smith said. “We are proud Tennessee filmmakers – really proud to be a part of the film industry in Nashville. Other than shooting in Alabama, it’s a Tennessee production.” Viewers will also notice many of the scenes were shot right here in Franklin.
After three years on this project, we are ready to come with some new,” Smith said. “Ideas for me are sort of like a light bulb in my head. If it stays with me, I keep working on it.”
Although their taste in movies is completely different, “We are both massive movie buffs, so we know what people would want to see on the screen,” Gregory said.
Smith prefers character driven films with “ a level of intelligence,” while Gregory gravitates towards “big, blockbuster, popcorn flicks.”
Smith and Gregory were confident they would do a feature film – they knew they were capable, but it took parent company MWS Group to believe in them and to support them.
“We are fortunate to have a great group of people believing in us,” Gregory said.
Now they are ready for their next project.
“We feel like we learned a lot – for me on the creative side and both of us on the business side,” Smith said. We are ready for the next one.”
In spite of Smith’s preference for “a level of intelligence, the next film will also be some sort of Sci-fi film.
“That’s what he’s good at,” Gregory said.
It’s what the public wants right now.
“For us fans of comic books and Sci-fi, it’s a good time to be a Sci-fi lover,” Gregory said.
Seabourne Pictures is the film division of the MWS Group, a multi-rights entertainment company in partnership with Michael W. Smith, Chaz Corzine and Gregory Ham who also served as executive producer of After. Recently Rick Rekedal with DreamWorks Animation joined the Seabourne Advisory Board.
MWS is primarily faith-based entertainment.
“We want to make movies that reflect our Christian world philosophy,” Smith said.
Posted on: 9/19/2012