Marketed as a modern Romeo and Juliet tale, the Hollywood star-studded movie is set to shoot in Columbus early next year.
Oscar nominee Eric Roberts (“Runaway Train”), French Stewart (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) and Quinton Aaron (“The Blind Side”) are presented as the best actors in the cast of the film with “Caketown” as the title.
Other actors listed in the cast so far are Elizabeth Posey (“Euphoria”), Eva Hamilton (“The Swing of Things”), Andrew Kai (“Valley Girl”), Paige Searcy (“Days of Our Lives”) and Eric Martinez. (“You better call Saul”).
According to the summary on the IMDB website, the story centers on a deceased athlete who becomes a drug dealer and meets a high school student “with the right zip code looking for something real.”
Filming is expected to begin in January or February at Flat Rock Studio, Catalyst Productions CEO John Mock told the Ledger-Enquirer. Outdoor stage locations have not been finalized but will include the AJ McClung Memorial Stadium as football is part of the storyline, he said.
“We’re going to call for extras to fill the stadium and probably get two of the (local) high school teams for the football scenes,” he said.
Catalyst co-founder J. Penberth “Jason” Rabold is the film‘s director and writer.
“We were originally supposed to shoot in western Pennsylvania,” Mock said, “but once we saw the studio and walked around here, the director said, ‘That’s what I want. It’s good.’ … And the Georgian tax credit is phenomenal.
The state offers qualifying productions an income tax credit of 20% and an additional 10% if the finished product includes an embedded Georgia Entertainment Promotion logo and a link to ExploreGeorgia.org/Film on the site’s homepage Project website.
Catalyst Productions is moving its headquarters to Columbus from Pittsburgh and expects the move to be the first of many films it is filming here. Catalyst is negotiating with the WC Bradley Company to become the head of Flat Rock Studio, Mock said, and signed a lease in August for its production office to be in Heritage Tower downtown.
WC Bradley Real Estate President Pace Halter told LE in an email Monday: ‘I would characterize both statements regarding Flat Rock as inaccurate. We had a meeting with the directors of Catalyst, but there is no agreement in place with Flat Rock Studio for filming or management. We are thrilled to have Catalyst in Columbus and look forward to working with them on their projects. »
Asked about Catalyst’s response, Mock told the LE in an email on Monday, “We’re very excited to produce movies and TV shows in Columbus and to have the opportunity to work with a great company like WC. Bradley, who has clearly invested in making Columbus a great place to live and work. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with them.
The title “Caketown” comes from the term used in western Pennsylvania to describe the wealthy part of a town, Mock said. The film’s title is sometimes stylized as “Cake (town)”.
Kai will play the male lead in the film, Mock said, “and we’re working on the female lead right now.”
Catalyst secured a “nationally recognized” executive producer for the film, Mock said, but he was not yet free to release the name.
The film’s budget is around $1.7 million, Mock said, and it is set to hit theaters next summer after screening at film festivals.
“We’ve already raised a fair amount of private equity, which has gotten us to this stage, to pre-sales and minimum guarantees,” he said. “The additional funding that our partner brings to the table, everything will be secured and wrapped up within a month.”
Catalyst is also seeking an incentive grant from the Columbus Film Fund to help the production with costs associated with shooting the film here, Mock said. The LE did not reach Columbus Film Commission Chairman Peter Bowden for comment before publication.
With Columbus State University being one of the Georgia Film Academy locations, it was another local film industry asset that attracted Catalyst.
“We haven’t started the conversation with them yet,” Mock said, “but it’s a key part of our business plan to help develop that local talent and keep it in the area.”
Origin and message of the movie “Caketown”
Rabold has worked for over 15 years as a director, first assistant director or unit production manager on music videos, shorts and feature films in the Los Angeles area. He directed the short film “Connected”, which won second prize from the jury and second prize for best visuals in the Filmmakers Collaboration Challenge 2019. His writing for the television series “Ghosts of War” received second-round recognition at the 2021 Austin Film Festival, and his writing for “Caketown” won the Screenplay of the Month award in January at the Festigious International Film Festival.
But he aspired to remake a timeless story.
“I’ve always wanted to adapt Romeo and Juliet in a new way,” he told LE.
Rabold returned to Pennsylvania in 2020 after reconnecting with his high school sweetheart, Shannon, who became his wife. While coaching kickers for the Newcastle High School football team in 2021, he heard eight gunshots a block away during practice.
“I hit the bridge,” he recalls. “…The player I was coaching looked at me and he said, ‘What are you doing, coach? That’s life in Newcastle. I got up and everyone is training as usual. It resonated with me.
So has the opioid epidemic and the wealth gap between haves and have-nots in Newcastle.
“If everything around you is destroyed,” he wondered, “how do you find love in a place like this?”
Rabold began writing “Caketown” in November 2021, and he completed the script in just one month.
“He definitely flew,” he said. “I kind of let the characters do the talking, and it really shaped from there.”
The message he wants people to get from the film, Rabold said, is “truly a story of hope, of finding love even in the darkest times of our lives and being able to hold on to it and allow that it’s not defined by our circumstances – where we’re born, what we do – but being able to understand that life is bigger than that, and letting love destroy us in the deepest and most depth can be very powerful.
By destruction, Rabold said, he means “allowing all those preconceptions and judgments to be destroyed and something new and better created. It’s a beautiful thing.