In the gray shade of an old barn, Jason London climbed into the seat of a tractor, wiped his face with a red handkerchief, then suddenly grasped at his chest as his face contorted, as if in pain.
London did it again and again and again before taking a break. Mimicking a heart attack several times for the benefit of a camera crew making a movie can be tiring. The 44-year-old actor finally walked out of the barn and, alone, nursed a cigarette on this foggy, humid morning on a farm south of Watkinsville.
London, a long-time actor who had his first big break with the 1993 movie “Dazed and Confused,” was among the cast and movie crew members filming scenes for the feature film “Full Count.” The movie is expected to debut in theaters in 2018.
At least two-thirds of the movie will be shot at locations in Oconee County, said the movie’s director and scriptwriter Robert Eagar of Atlanta. The movie is his directorial debut.
“We’ve set the bar high for my first project, and I’m blessed to have an experienced crew and actors,” he said recently at The Pastures of Rose Creek, a family farm a few miles south of Watkinsville that specializes in beef, eggs and vegetables.
The farm owners, Will Powers and his family, “have been extremely helpful to us. Oconee County has opened its arms to us,” said one of the producers, Eddie Singleton, a Midway native who now lives in Atlanta.
“We’ve shot all over the farm and the owners have provided anything we’ve needed,” Singleton said.
The farmhouse and grounds serve as the home of the main characters, a father and his son, the latter who is a baseball phenom who wants to leave home to play baseball against the wishes of his father.
Besides London, the cast includes Natalia Livingston, an Emmy-winning actress originally from Macon, three-time Emmy winner Rick Hearst, Adam Boyer, E. Roger Mitchell and Victoria Staley – all seasoned actors with roles in dozens of films and TV shows.
The lead role of the athlete is played by John Paul Kakos of Dacula, who lacks name recognition.
“We took a gamble on John Paul Kakos,” Eagar said. “He has exactly the look we wanted and he’s turned out to be phenomenal. He is our lead in the production, and he’s surrounded by six actors and actresses who each have been in 80 to 90 films.”
The movie is a venture by two companies, Buckhead Film Group and Reel One Entertainment.
Eagar said he wrote the script in 2001 when he entered it into Project Greenlight, an online screenwriting contest founded by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
“It gave me the feedback and comfort of knowing there was a story here. It went through a couple of different versions and a couple of drafts, but about the time I got ready to move forward, the economy crashed. My income, my job, everything I had done was tied to the mortgage and real estate industry,” Eagar explained. “I waited and got back on my feet.
“It’s been a 16-year journey for me to get to where we’re actually getting it into production,” he said.
One positive factor is the burgeoning movie industry in Georgia.
“It made the overall cost of making the film come down,” he said.
This thriving movie industry in Georgia also made it possible for actress Natalia Livingston to move back to her home state and continue in the acting business.
“When I graduated from college, it wasn’t an option to stay here to be an actor. You either had to move to L.A. or New York. I was more interested in TV and film than in theater so I went to L.A.,” said Livingston, who has the role of the farmer’s wife.
Today, based on a report in Hollywood Reporter, more movies are being shot in Georgia than Los Angeles, she said.
Livingston has acted in feature films, but she had roles for several years in two soap operas, “General Hospital” and “Days of Our Lives,” and once earned an Emmy for this work. She lived in Los Angeles for 12 years before she moved to New York City, where she not only acted, but also was a producer for Nat Geo.
About three years ago, she decided to move back to Atlanta and today she owns Actor Boutique, a business where she works with actors, including providing classes.
A graduate of Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, she attended Emory University before leaving the state. Livingston said she is enjoying her move back to Georgia.
“It’s a state I love and it’s affordable. You can have a beautiful back yard and there are friendly, warm people,” the actress said.