All it took was one look at the canopy of live oaks along Aiken’s South Boundary for Richard Clark Jr. to decide he had to make a movie using that backdrop.
“South Boundary is just beautiful,” said Clark, a producer with New Daydream Films, an independent movie company based in Charlotte, N.C. He is in Aiken filming his second full-length feature in six months.
In the fall, the company shot Waiting for Butterflies in many Aiken locales including South Boundary, Hopelands Gardens, several downtown businesses and private homes. Waiting for Butterflies, a faith-based movie about a grandmother whose dying wish is to bring her estranged family back together during her last days, is set for a summer release.
This month, the company is filming Discover Zac Ryan, a drama about an oncologist who meets his biological father while treating him for cancer. Writer and director Corey Paul said Discover Zac Ryan is a 10-year labor of love. He moved from Ohio to North Carolina because of the state’s filmmaking reputation and founded New Daydream Films.
He was on the set of Waiting for Butterflies and was impressed with what he saw. Originally, his film was to be shot in the Charlotte area, but the entire filming will be done in Aiken – a move Paul doesn’t mind at all.
“While getting to know the cast and crew, I fell in love with Aiken,” he said.
Filming of Discover Zac Ryan should be completed by the end of March. Post-production should be completed by the end of the summer or early fall. A release date has not been set.
“We are definitely looking at a national theatrical release,” Paul said.
Carla Cloud, the executive director of the Aiken Downtown Development Association and an actress, initially forged the relationship between the city of Aiken and the film company.
About two years ago, she saw a post about auditions for a television pilot to be filmed in the Charlotte area. She ended up with a small part in the pilot. Not long after, Cloud learned about Tainted Love, a television series about human trafficking, directed by Clark. It appears on the Halogen Network.
Cloud invited Clark to the Aiken area to discuss his work at several Rotary Club meetings. It was on one of those visits that Clark toured Aiken and saw South Boundary.
Clark started his film company in 2005, and most of his projects have been recorded in Charlotte and Rock Hill, S.C.
Though Aiken’s aesthetic is one draw for the filmmaker, Clark said it’s the people who have cemented his decision to make movies there. New Daydream Films is a company committed to making quality films on a much smaller budget than in Hollywood, he said.
“The people here are so hospitable, and the town really buys into the vision,” he said.
Many Aiken residents played a part in Waiting for Butterflies; some were in scenes, and many others were behind the scenes, offering their homes or other sites for filming, or providing meals or lodging for the cast and crew.
Clark said he plans to shoot two more films in Aiken.
One will be shot in the summer and the other toward the end of the year. One is a romance and the other is a ghost story, which will be filmed at the Aiken Prep campus of Mead Hall Episcopal School.