Augusta native Maurice Johnson has performed quite a lot of characters in his profession, together with roles within the TV collection “The Vampire Diaries” and the movie “Billionaire Boys Membership.”
Then the actor heard about a possibility for a component within the new household journey movie “The Skeleton’s Compass” filming in Georgia with a heavy Peach State presence.
“I jumped on it due to the subject material,” stated Johnson, who graduated from Glenn Hills Excessive College and performs the daddy of 1 character. “I assumed it was a cute, household pleasant sort factor. I’ve another ones my nieces and nephews can’t watch.”
“The Skeleton’s Compass” — out there now on streaming platforms together with Apple TV, Amazon Prime and Vudu — harkens again to household journey movies from the Nineteen Eighties and ’90s, a coming-of-age film with undertones of “The Goonies” and “Jumanji.”
The film started within the thoughts of screenwriter Cris Loveless of Suwanee after watching her three sons play with their associates close to creeks behind their dwelling the place gold was as soon as found.
Her household lives about 45 minutes from Dahlonega, dwelling to America’s first main gold rush within the late 1820s. Her husband, Mark, served because the movie’s government producer and the 2 of them additionally play small roles within the film. Sandra L. Martin directed it.
“We have now a whole lot of that idiot’s gold down there, and it sparks the creativeness,” Loveless stated of land behind their home. “And simply listening to the youngsters enjoying, it was a whole lot of enjoyable. Children have nice imaginations.
“It simply saved unfolding. It initially began off as a 30-page brief script.”
She despatched the script to others for suggestions, they usually inspired her to develop it right into a full-fledged screenplay.
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“I simply wished one which was household enjoyable so individuals can relate to that,” Loveless stated.
Considered one of her sons, Luke Loveless, additionally co-stars within the impartial movie. The younger actor’s film credit embrace components within the 2019 Netflix interval crime thriller “The Highwaymen” co-starring Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson and Kathy Bates; the Hallmark Channel movie “Love on the Shore”; and smaller roles within the dystopian science fiction movies “The Starvation Video games: Mocking Jay — Half 2” (2015) and “The Divergent Sequence: Allegiant” (2016).
Luke Loveless, 16, stated there have been instances on previous film units when he wished to supply enter however couldn’t.
“With this one, she was really standing by the director, serving to me,” he stated of his mother. “It was good to have somebody in my nook.”
Luke Loveless portrays Champ Brown, a 13-year-old. Brown and his pal Stryker (portrayed by Caleb Baumann of Atlanta) whereas enjoying within the woods discover an outdated prospector’s journal and compass, with the Cherokee phrase “Sidanelv” that means “household” inscribed on it.
Joined by two different center faculty associates, the 4 embark on an journey that features time journey.
“The Skeleton’s Compass” delves into American Indian historical past. Previous to the 1830s, Cherokees Nation included northern Georgia the place the film is about. State and federal authorities businesses encroached on their lands till, lastly, U.S. troops compelled the Cherokees to go away, starting the “Path of Tears” transfer west. Gold had been found on their Georgia land.
Filming was in three places: Suwanee, on the Loveless’ precise dwelling and property, in consolidated gold mines in Dahlonega and the ghost city of Auraria.
Along with Johnson and Cris and Luke Loveless, “The Skeleton’s Compass” consists of different actors with Georgia connections.
‘Only a good story’
Joey Thurmond, the actor who performs Champ’s dad Tim Brown, grew up in Dallas, Georgia. His hyperlink to Augusta is an ominous one. In 1992, Thurmond was a wrestler with World Championship Wrestling or WCW and, throughout a match on the town, one other wrestler threw him to the mat and broke Thurmond’s again.
He survived the autumn and switched to an appearing profession, starring in dozens of flicks and TV reveals.
Thurmond stated enjoying the character in “The Skeleton’s Compass” was “only a actual breath of recent air.”
“Once I received that script, I started studying it and it was simply such story,” he stated. “There is not any innuendo in it, no swearing, and it’s one thing that I feel the viewer can get into.
“And the truth that it ties Georgia in, being in Dahlonega and ties in America’s very first gold rush and ties within the Cherokee gold and what occurs after they enter the gold mine, it is only a good story.”
Not sufficient ‘household pleasant films’
Becoming a member of Loveless and Baumann have been the 2 film’s two different treasure hunters: Reagan Shumate (Jennie) and Abby Grace (Pip) of Suwanee.
“I personally love household pleasant films,” stated Shumate, 16, of Wilmington, N.C., who had a task within the 2021 coming-of-age horror thriller “The Black Telephone” that stars Ethan Hawke.
“This subject is absolutely good as a result of it reaches to extra individuals, a extra huge selection than another genres do.”
Grace, 15, stated “The Skeleton’s Compass” was her first movie appearing position. The Lambert Excessive College freshman who performs lacrosse and different sports activities stated she auditioned and received the half. Her solely different appearing expertise has been in class performs.
“It was form of surreal for me,” she stated. “I may see 4-year-olds watching this film and my household and grandparents sitting down and watching it.”
And rising up as a Georgia child, Baumann stated, it meant loads to him that the film explores among the state’s wealthy historical past.
“Most individuals don’t know there was gold right here,” he stated. “It was a tremendous expertise. I made a whole lot of associates even to his day.”
Reliving childhood fantasies
One of many extra attention-grabbing characters in “The Skeleton’s Compass” is Jedidiah, performed by actor Chris Cleveland.
Jedidiah serves because the 1828 prospector camp agitator in scenes, fast to attract his gun and run his mouth.
“It was enjoyable to channel my cousins and my uncles and all of the in-laws and outlaws in my deep Southern roots,” stated Cleveland, who grew up in Westminster, S.C., close to the Georgia border.
“This man was attention-grabbing,” he continued. “I form of made up his voice, form of developed his laughter. I feel he has an amazing coronary heart beneath all of the facade that he tries to place on the market. Deep down he’s man.”
Cleveland — who acted within the three last films Bruce Willis made — stated “The Skeleton’s Compass” reminds him of movies he grew up having fun with.
“ ‘Goonies’ is one in all my favourite all-time films. I watch it each time I’m flipping by the channels,” he stated. “There’s one thing concerning the nostalgia, being a child, ‘Stand by Me,’ Goonies,’ ‘E.T.,’ it simply brings again your childhood that is so fleeting and we want may get again there.”
He added that he believed the film obtained omen early. Cleveland stated he noticed a rock glowing within the solar whereas he was close to a creek, seemed down and discovered an ideal arrowhead.
“And that was the primary day of taking pictures, and from then on I felt this overwhelming sense of calm and we have been on sacred floor and we have been doing it justice,” he stated.