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Casting call goes out for $8.5 million movie filming in Macon this fall

Pre-teen biracial girl sought for ‘breakout’ role, actors, extras and crew needed for true story written to foster adoption.

MACON, Ga. — A Hollywood production team is setting up temporary offices in downtown Macon to film a major motion picture backed by big names and benefactors that bankrolled the $8.5 million project.

“Possum Trot,” not a secret code name but the title of the film, tells a powerful tale of 22 families in a small Black church congregation who adopted 77 of the area’s hardest to place foster children.

Writer/producer Rebekah Weigel sees the film not as just a movie, but it’s a movement to reverse the “foster crisis in the child welfare system.”

It was that story that uprooted Weigel and her co-writer and director husband, Josh, from their Hollywood home and planted them in East Texas last year. They started going to church in Possum Trot, just outside of Center, Texas, to capture the essence of the people who agreed to love and care for some of the most vulnerable in their society.

Rebekah Weigel wants the message to inspire the audience to do the same. She sees the film as more of a movement than just a movie.

“Our goal is to raise awareness for the foster crisis and let the film be used as a tool… to inspire people to get involved,” Weigel said. “A lot of the story is about the power of community, the power of faith, and ‘Look, we can all do something.’”

The Weigels’ own experience of fostering and adopting extended family members gave them a passion to devote their lives to saving kids across the country.

Casting call Saturday at the Tubman

In addition to finding Middle Georgians of all ages for extras and small speaking parts, casting director Mary Vernieu is still filling lead roles – including one that is sure to make a star out of some pre-teen girl of biracial heritage.

“It could be a breakout performance for a local,” Rebekah Weigel said.

Although there are young ladies auditioning from as far away as London, Weigel would love to find someone close by. She’s also scouting for a rural, old white wooden church in an open field and small family homes and trailers as they film during October and November.

In addition to finding Middle Georgians of all ages for extras and small speaking parts, casting director Mary Vernieu is still filling lead roles – including one that is sure to make a star out of some pre-teen girl of biracial heritage.

“It could be a breakout performance for a local,” Rebekah Weigel said.

Although there are young ladies auditioning from as far away as London, Weigel would love to find someone close by. She’s also scouting for a rural, old white wooden church in an open field and small family homes and trailers as they film during October and November.

The Greater Macon Chamber literally rolled out the welcome mat to the Weigels’ Peacetree Productions. Interim president Ron Shipman postponed the chamber’s move from near the Coliseum to the old Historic Macon office at 338 Poplar Street to accommodate the crew and their production headquarters.

The Weigels, with their son Judah, are temporarily moving into a downtown loft and the rest of the crew members is looking for short-term leases.

“I love Macon,” she said. “It’s a beautiful city.”

Like some others who have filmed here, she entertains the idea of opening a studio nearby.

Visit Macon film liaison Aaron Buzza sees “Possum Trot” as evidence to other production companies that an entire film can be shot out of Macon.

A long list of films have shot scenes in Macon, including major motions pictures “42”, “Trouble with the Curve,” “Black Widow” and most recently the musical adaptation of “The Color Purple.” But the city has not had this much screen presence since the late 70s when director John Huston made Macon the backdrop for the screen adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s “Wise Blood.”

Buzza has been assisting Peacetree Productions with logistics and sees the value of hosting this film.

“The story is fantastic,” Buzza said. “It’s super exciting and an honor to pick Macon because we get to be part of telling an amazing story about a real cool community, and the benefit of the film being released to help kids is a thread that weaves through it. Not only the theatrical elements, but it benefits the foster system.”

All proceeds from the film and any backend compensation typically granted to the core production team of producers, writers and director are being donated to organizations serving children in crisis. Financiers passionate about the cause raised the $8.5 million to make the film.

“To our knowledge, it’s the first major film to be done all on donations,” Rebekah Weigel said.

Upon hearing it the first time, the Weigels’ Peacetree Productions is likely to be mistaken for Peachtree in these parts, but their company name speaks to their desire to create life-changing work, like this screenplay they wrote.

The couple’s acclaimed short film “The Butterfly Circus” won more than 35 film festival awards including Carmel’s Clint Eastwood Filmmaker award handed over by the legendary actor/director himself. In his two decades in the industry, Josh Weigel also has worked as an art director and production designer for award-winning promotions and national commercials including Super Bowl ads.

Rebekah Weigel desires the film to be a catalyst for communities of faith to step forward with a means to unite a fractured society.

“It’s a movement to care for kids and that’s our passion,” Weigel said. “We can all do that. It’s one thing in our divided nation that we can care for, the most vulnerable.”

The original story has been edited at the request of the production company to remove information shared prematurely about the film’s supporters, talent and partners. Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government news and can be reached at fabian_lj@mercer.edu.

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