Excitement builds as Eatonton moves closer to becoming a moviemaking destination

The crowd explodes in cheers and laughter as Eatonton Mayor Walter Rocker Jr., wielding giant, gold-colored scissors and joined Tytan Creates principals Jim and Roxy Stone, cuts the ribbon May 25 signifying the movie-producing company’s lease on Eatonton's old Putnam State Prison. (Photo by Lynn Hobbs.)

 

(Editor's note: This version has been updated from an earlier version that appeared in the print edition.)

By Lynn Hobbs / Staff

EATONTON -- There appeared to be a party going on at the old Putnam State Prison last month as about 100 people celebrated film-production company Tytan Pictures’ official startup in Eatonton.

Folks gathered under the two towering pecan trees at the old lockup's main entryway for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. They also explored the run-down brick building, which was last used as a 126-inmate, medium-security prison in 2004. The May 25 celebrants cooled off with sips of chilled champagne or icy beer, and personally became acquainted with reputable people in the movie industry.

Tytan Principal and Executive Producer Jim Stone thanked “the people of Eatonton and Putnam County who fought so hard to help us get here.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be a part of this community,” he said. “This is a great place and it will be an easy place to attract employees to.”

The event came just two months after Eatonton City Council had approved at its March 21 meeting to allow the Downtown Development Authority to lease the old prison to Tytan.

 

The prison’s future

Several Putnam County people who used to work in the old West Forrest Street prison attended the event and shared pictures and their memories. The prison was closed 12 years ago because it cost more to operate than larger, more modern prisons. Its closing cost Putnam County millions of dollars in lost services, according to news stories published at the time.

“Our goal is to really bring this place back,” Stone said.

Stone said Tytan is not going to invest a lot of money to renovate the prison, “because film makers will want to change it. The sign says ‘Prison’ but they can and will make anything out of it – a school, a hospital, a prison, etc.

“This will be an active film set people are going to love,” he added.

It was noted that Tytan will market the prison for movie-makers to come in and shoot scenes there. Also, the Savannah-based movie company will transform the old aluminum plant on Oak Street for use as a sound stage and post production offices.  However, renovations on the aluminum plant will not begin immediately, either, because it already is slated to be used as is for a movie in the fall.

 

Faces in the crowd

Stone introduced some friends from the industry he brought to the ribbon cutting, among them:

>> Carmen Cabana, the cinematographer who did the entire Season 2 of the Netflix series “Narcos.”

>> Victor Pisano, writer and producer of the PBS miniseries, “Three Sovereigns for Sarah,” and who produces the Martha’s Vineyard Summer Concert Series.

>> Marc Aramian, music composer and sound designer for the horror film “Sinister,” “High School Musical,” Coca Cola commercials, and the flag ceremony of the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona.

>> Ray Jacobs, who launched many TV series, such as “Friends,” “Roseanne,” “Judge Judy” and “NYPD Blue” into syndication and created advertising for CBS news.

Stone said he was excited to see Charles Bowen -- actor, entertainment lawyer and founder of the Savannah Film Alliance, and Terrell Sandefur, chairman of the Macon Film Commission at the ribbon cutting.

“A rising tide floats all boats and we’re going to all work together to bring more (movie makers) into Georgia,” he said.

 

New residents and new jobs

Ray Jacobs will be moving to Eatonton full-time with his wife, Sylvia, and their dog, Cody. Jacobs said after a career in Los Angeles, he retired to Palm Springs for a decade, then moved to Savannah to be closer to his children and grandchildren.

The father of Tytan cofounder and creative director Scott Jacobs, Ray Jacobs is Tytan’s executive vice president of brand strategy. He will be Tytan’s full-time representative in Eatonton and will work on branding the city, per the DDA’s contract with Tytan.

Also, Stone introduced Tytan’s two newest part-time employees hired locally – Ashley and Lauren Camp. The twin sisters will be serving as liaisons to help carry out details and fill needs, such as finding workers for the movie sets as they are needed.

“We’ll be needing carpenters, laborers, directors, welders, masons – a lot of people,” Stone said.

“I’m excited,” he added; “and humbled, overwhelmed … grateful. I’m so amazed by the support the community has given. We went to the rich and poor parts of town and people took the time to speak to us. That’s what made us want to stay, they were so open and friendly.”

(Eatonton Messenger Editor Don Richeson contributed to this story.)

 

MOVIE-MAKING TO START

The first movie to be made in Eatonton through Tytan Pictures is “King Seed, The Movie.” Its expected release date is Christmas Day, according to information on the Facebook page of the same name as the movie.  The Facebook page was created in January.

At the ribbon cutting in Eatonton last month, Screenplay Writer and Producer Victor R. Pisano said the old Putnam State Prison and Enterprise Aluminum plant are “picture perfect” for the movie’s scenes, all of which will be shot in Georgia.

“The King Seed” is an action/thriller motion picture that will bring film makers from the U.S., England and Italy together in Georgia this fall, Pisano said. The cast already has been selected, and features actors who live in Georgia.

The PG13 movie will be directed by Italian Director Antonio Baiocco. To read the plot and for information, visit the Facebook page “King Seed, The Movie.”

 

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