MARION, S.C. — Marion native Stacie Davis recently wrote her first script for an upcoming movie project and the leap of faith has resulted in it becoming a film produced right in her hometown.
Production for “Christmas in Carolina” wrapped up last week in Marion with scenes shot at Door of Hope Christian Church, featuring more than 100 community members. The movie also features a few familiar faces, starring Kellie Williams-Jackson and Darius McCrary, also known as Laura and Eddie Winslow from the ABC network show Family Matters.
“Last year, I was watching a Christmas movie on a certain network and I felt I could do a Christmas movie too,” Davis said. “So I went inside my room and started writing and three months later Christmas in Carolina was birthed. I reached out to the Williams family and they have been guiding me on this journey.”
Davis also served as co-director and production assistant.
“It takes time and we didn’t want to rush it,” Davis said. “We wanted everything to come together perfectly.”
Preproduction started in June and scenes will be filmed in Florence, Conway and Columbia.
Davis said she feels honored the Williams family took a chance on her.
“I don’t have a lot of experience in this area because it’s so small,” she said. “To have someone to believe in your dreams just as much as you do really means a lot.”
Peggy Williams serves as co-director and produces projects through Dream Merchant Media.
“As with production you have so many elements going on,” Williams said. “We just come together and make it happen.
Williams said she believed in Davis’ vision.
“When I had the opportunity to come and visit, we felt this is a huge opportunity to give back and believe in a dream of a Christmas story,” Williams said. “We were excited to be a part of this to add to the value of Marion and give a good love story.”
Davis describes the film as a family-friendly movie with faith-based values and giving a hometown family feeling for the holiday season.
Williams said her passion is helping in the community. She is also the step-mother of Williams-Jackson.
“She’s my bonus daughter,” she said. “It’s always exciting working with her. It’s never a dull moment because she has a very big personality and she has a very genuine big heart. She is always giving and trying to help wherever she can. We wanted to bring Hollywood here.”
Williams-Jackson said its great working with family because they understand they’re working in a business-like fashion. Her experience was a vital asset in the crew coming together.
“This has been a passion project for us,” she said. “It’s been amazing. We’ve gathered some really great players and just glad to be a part of it.”
McCrary brings more than 30 years of experience to the film.
“This is such a beautiful and professional production,” he said. “It’s beautiful people. It’s well written and it’s beautiful subject-matter. I love working with Kellie Shanygne Williams. I would party in a phone booth with her. She is amazing and just another extension to show how much family matters.”
Actress Jessi Nicolet has been in the industry for more than five years and called it one of the biggest opportunities.
“It has been such a learning experience and such a fun experience to work to with such talented actors,” Nicolet said. “It’s been incredible.”
Tashawnie Hunter of Florence said she was interested in acting and was happy to help.
“Acting has always been my passion since I was young,” she said. “This helps inspire others and inspires myself as well and motivates me to help everybody that wants to do the same-thing.”
Bishop Michael Blue was happy to host the crowd at the church and even has a role of his own in the movie.
“I’m excited about it but also consider it an opportunity to express what it is that we believe about the church,” he said. “The church is not monolithic, one-dimensional but rather multi-dimensional because we serve a God that is omnidimensional. This gives us an opportunity to express the side of him that’s artistic and creative.”
Bishop Blue said he is happy to see Davis grow up as a member of the church and see her dreams materialize.
Marion native David “D.J.” Rowell has a lead role in the film and excited about the opportunity.
“It’s my first movie and it’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Rowell said. “It’s a life-changing experience. You couldn’t have told me a year ago I would be in this place with these people acting. It’s no place like home and to able to do something of this magnitude amongst people you love.”
Rowell said he learned about preparation and being ready for the moment. He’s always had a passion for entertainment and called it amazing to participate.
“Working with each of the members of the special cast is truly an unforgettable moment and journey this past year,” he said.
Actress Joslyn Y. Hall of Charlotte, N.C. is in her first lead role.
“I am so excited and honored to be here,” she said. “Being able to be alongside the cast has been absolutely amazing and an experience I’ll never forget.”
Terrence Shingler out of Washington D.C. has been acting for 15 years and showcased his gift in singing, acting and comedy.
“It’s been awesome and a dream-come-true,” he said. “I’m really excited about this and can’t wait for the world to see it. It’s a beautiful story and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Shawn Harrison, also known as Waldo Faldo from Family Matters was also heavily involved in the movie and sharing his experience.
“It was interesting,” he said. “This is my first time in South Carolina so it’s a little bit of a culture shock but at the same-time I’m very happy to be here. We have been well received.”
Harrison said he came on board at the last minute but excited and called it fun.
It’s the second film project for Davis. She produced a film on the late Taft Watson titled More Than a Coach: The Taft Watson Story, which premiered at Regal Swamp Fox Theater.
The Claflin University graduate also penned a book on the longtime Terrell’s Bay coach.
Davis said a date hasn’t been set yet for the movie release.
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