The writers and actors strike has halted work for most film productions in Georgia, but one project is still in the works – and nobody is getting paid.
On a patch of rural land in Fayette County, professional actors, producers, directors, and crew members are working on a zombie-themed pilot show named “Call Sign Z” that might be turned into a series.
And everyone on the project is a volunteer.
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“There’s a passion for what we do,” executive producer Jonathan Arthur told Channel 2′s Bryan Mims. “We’ve all been unemployed for months. We came here to make a project we could all get behind.”
Nobody on this project expects to get paid for the work, even when the strike is over.
The union did give its approval for the production since everyone agreed to the volunteer terms.
“This is perfecting our craft,” director Ken Barefield said.
He used a football analogy, saying this project is like a scrimmage, “We just got a bunch of people who wanted to make film and make something fun, and here we are.”
All this time not working means time spent not honing skills and not doing what they love.
“It’s an effort to keep everyone’s skills polished and keep them sharp,” executive producer Billy Hong said. “You take a year off, you come back, you’re going to be rusty. Something like this keeps them sharp.”
Scottie Gaston is a gaffer responsible for the lighting and power on the set.
He’s been drawing unemployment during the strike and trying to earn whatever money he can.
When he learned of this project, he was eager to play his part.
“I see a lot of creative people that saw the bigger picture and are willing to participate in the bigger thing we all work for,” he said.
The landowner allowed the crew to use the property at no charge and businesses donated equipment.
“We were getting phone calls from companies and individuals offering up their services, their time, their equipment without even knowing what the project was,” Arthur said.
Barefield, the director, said crew members want to be well positioned for when the strike ends, “And when we all go back to work, we’re not knocking off 20 weeks of rust, we’re knocking off a week and a half or two weeks of rust.”
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