Locally-produced film premieres, nears movie deal

Locally-produced  film premieres,  nears movie deal
Front: Dawn Crawford, Hailey Todd, Gylphie, Cooper Chapman, Evan Gray; back: Sharon Cobb, producer/writer, Duane Sikes, executive producer, Kenny Logsdon, Marcus Taylor, Auggie Pulliam, Samuel Portugal, Grace Bryan, associate producer

Less than 24 hours after a private showing of the latest Duane A. Sikes Productions short film, “Ortega River Rats,” Sikes received an offer for feature film distribution from a film distributor.

The premiere of the “concept” film was held Jan. 21 at the Sun-Ray Cinema for a standing-room-only crowd of cast, crew and supporters.

Sikes’ Lakeside Park-based film company underwrote the 15-minute film, written and produced by Avondale resident Sharon Cobb, along with associate producer Grace Bryan of Ortega Forest.

The film focuses on four young friends who try to find Machine Gun Kelly’s purportedly hidden treasure to help save Chance, a sick dog, played by Gylphie, a Golden Doodle owned by Lisa Fine of Riverside.

Flashbacks to 1933, when the notorious gangster allegedly hid out in an Ortega home on Grand Avenue, included classic automobiles on loan from the Model A Club of Jacksonville. The film also included scenes, thanks to the North Florida Land Trust, at the Ft. Caroline Spanish-American Fort used as the River Rats own hide-out.

The producers intended to enter the short in film festivals with the hopes it would be picked up by a studio for a full-length feature, said Cobb during a question-and-answer session following the showing. A cliff-hanger focusing on time travel was built into the short to allow for feature development, and Cobb was ecstatic to learn about the offer the next day.

During Q-and-A, three of the six young actors said their favorite part was getting to jump out of a john boat into the river while a yacht – on loan from Lamb’s Yacht Center – was bearing down on them. Dawn Crawford, an Ortega resident who played the mother of two of the “Rats,” said her biggest challenge was working closely with Gylphie, as she is allergic to dogs.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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