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"Chipper" a short film produced by Jayson Warner Smith screening at the 2023 Atlanta Film Festival
Jayson Warner Smith's short film "Chipper" has been selected by The Atlanta Film Festival and will screen on April 27th. "After receiving a mysterious letter, a wayward son returns to his childhood home to wrestle with a dark family secret."
By: JackBrit Films
Now in its fourth decade, the Atlanta Film Festival, one of only two-dozen Academy Award® qualifying festivals in the U.S., is the area's preeminent celebration of cinema.
Log-line: After receiving a mysterious letter, a wayward son returns to his childhood home to wrestle with a dark family secret.
Executive Produced by: Ryan Wiedmayer (Weird Brothers Productions)
Co-Executive Produced by: Robert Mello (Weird Brothers Productions)
Produced by: Shaun MacLean & Jesse Scimeca
Directed by: Shaun MacLean
Written by: Ruckus Skye and Lane Skye (The Devil to Pay, Becky)
Director of Photography/
Cast: Jayson Warner Smith (The Walking Dead, Rectify), Brad Carter (Ozark, Yellowstone), Brittany Deneen, Kathrine Barnes and Rick Andosca
In 2016 in his hometown of Atlanta, Jayson reached out to local writers looking for a short film script he could produce and star in. While grateful for the career he was having, including a two season stint on both The Walking Dead and SundanceTV's (now AMC+) Rectify, Smith wanted casting directors to see him in a different light. Frustrated with being type cast, he wanted to show that he could play more than villains, creeps and porch-dicks.
Jayson was shocked when his friends Lane Skye and her husband Ruckus Skye said they'd like to help. Ruckus and Lane were and are no small potatoes in the Atlanta film scene. Their film The Devil to Pay with Danielle Deadwyler has been burning up Netflix and Becky with Kevin James has become a cult favorite. "I was amazed when they offered to help. Here were two great writers offering to write a film for me. I was so grateful."
When they all met to brainstorm, the writers started with the question, "What scares you?"
"They wanted to know what scared me and I just blurted out, my parents getting old. I was kind of shocked that I said it. Up until that time, I hadn't thought much about it"
Two weeks later, Ruckus and Lane returned with a script entitled Ashes to Ashes which has now become Chipper.
"The script was in my life for several years and had a few false starts and then I just kind of let it go. It just wasn't meant to be. Then in March of 2020, my mom had her first stroke. Dead solid in the middle of locking down. Everything stopped and she became the center of my world. With all this time on my hands, I pulled the script back out and ... I am sitting there reading it, fighting back tears because it was happening for real to me right then. Art was imitating my life."
While ultimately the film is drastically different from Smith's real life, something about the script hit him hard and he had to make the film.
The film was shot over three days in Covington Georgia in June of 2022 with an entirely local group of creatives, cast, crew and financing. Even while under covid protocols of SAGAFTRA, the team was able to bring the entire project in under its budget of $20k. This included all aspects of production and post. The film was financed mainly by Weird Brothers Productions (Ryan Wiedmayer and Robert Mello) with about a quarter of the budget coming from friends, family and other angels.
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