It takes a village to produce a film, from grips to cinematographers to caterers — and in this strange case, the village ghosts gave a spectral hand, too.
“A Savannah Haunting” was the first film in Savannah to be completed when shooting was allowed to start back up following the COVID-19 induced shutdown. William Mark McCullough, the writer, director and producer on the film, says most of the people he hired were from Georgia.
“After being shut down for months, it felt good to give the people in our community jobs,” says Mark. “I’m very proud to say we cast all Southeastern actors. The majority of our crew was from Savannah, like the production designer, make-up artist, water safety crew, grips, construction team and production assistants.”
“A Savannah Haunting” is based on Mark’s real-life experiences at his 1930s Savannah home — which he claims is haunted — and part of the movie was shot there. Two crew members needed a place to stay, and Mark offered them rooms in his house. They only made it four nights before strange voices, shadows and a creepy blue fog chased them to a hotel for the rest of the shoot.
Mark and his partner at Fort Argyle Films, Alexis Nelson, worked hard to get the film finished under strict COVID protocols. The production had to follow a 10-hour workday instead of the usual days that would last more than 14 hours. During pre-production and production, cast and crew were tested three times a week for COVID-19 without a single positive result.
“I’m super proud that we got it done. Everyone followed all the safety protocols,” says Mark. “It was hot, and everyone kept their PPE in place at all times on top of moving lightning fast because of limited shooting hours. We couldn’t have done it without the help of the Savannah community.”
Mark says people in Savannah welcomed the film industry with open arms. Local businesses were excited to be involved and were happy to help in any way they could. Savannah-based video production company, Alienworx, delivered all of the dailies quickly since the shortened schedule hampered the ability to do reshoots. Mark was able to schedule coveted time at civil-war era Myrtle Grove Plantation with the help of owner Buck Meeks. The Savannah Regional Film Commission was another great resource for Mark to help him secure what he needed to get the film made.
“I’m so grateful and fortunate to do what I’m passionate about in my hometown,” says Mark. “We have a strong film community here that’s more open to newcomers. There’s a sense of fun and of the community coming together to make something creative.”