They are as unlikely a couple as their leading characters, yet Luis Saumell, executive producer and director, and Aaron Killian, associate producer and screenwriter, are heading toward a happy ending as the pieces fall into place for their movie “Masons of Maryville.”
The movie is a romantic comedy and drama about a conservative Catholic Mexican girl named Carmen who falls in love with Tim, the son of a Southern Baptist preacher. It is set in Blount County and takes full advantage of the historic and iconic places locals have known about for years.
The men collaborate well, playing off each other’s strengths and backgrounds. “I’m Cuban-American and I have strong feelings about immigration. With all the politics in the recent years; they’re trying to resolve the problem and yet nothing gets resolved,” said Saumell, who also has an extensive background in commercial photography.
Killian brings his Blount County roots and sense of humor to the project. “We wanted to poke some fun at stereotypes and people who make decisions without knowing the facts,” said Killian. “When Luis and I sat to talk about it, we realized how different we are in our backgrounds. I’m younger, Blount County born and raised, he’s Cuban-American. He has a great eye, and I have a good ear, and with the two together we’ve come up with a pretty interesting script,” said Killian.
With the casting almost complete, Saumell and Killian are careening down the production road. Almost 100 people auditioned for parts in the movie or for crew positions, and the producers were pleased with the results. “Some people were so good, we decided to just write a part for them,” said Killian. They worked with fellow screenwriter Tim Hankins and created scenes that included a young version of several main characters, and then cast Linsey Sharp, Nathan Large, Ethan Large and Angel Gregory in those special roles.
Other local talent cast in the “Masons of Maryville” include Robyn Mullins, Tim Flatford, Steve Trigg, Tonya Tipton, Allison Barker, Joe Lambert, Ole Mueller, Rommy Gutierrez, Jervis Brown, Chad A. Neace and Marybeth Dahl. In addition to the local talent, actor Gene Gabriel has read the script and expressed an interest in being in the film. There are still a few speaking roles left and some openings for extras. The producers are also seeking more production crew members.
“Filming is set to begin this spring and the Capital Theater will host the showing of the movie,” said Saumell. “Heath Claiborne (owner of the Capital Theater) has really embraced the organization of the film club and the movie.” Other local businesses offering their services to the film include Pat McGill at Realty Executives on Lamar Alexander Parkway and Arthur Campbell at Anderson Rental. Saumell also thanked the owner of the Waterfront Group and helicopter pilot Dan Rawn for flying him over Blount County during the height of the fall foliage to film the movie’s opening shot.
Anyone interested in being an individual or corporate sponsor should contact production manager J.B. Johnson or location manager Rusty Willocks at the e-mail address below. “We’ll try to work with the business to include their actual location in the film, and they would definitely be in the screen credits,” said Killian.
The idea for the film began with Saumell’s overwhelming feeling that he had to do something. “I have a passion for film making and knew I’d explode if I didn’t come up with something. I started the film club, and then we just stepped into it and started doing it,” Saumell said.
He began the film club in August with the sole purpose of making movies. “I want to represent everyone properly, and we want to do an ongoing thing. When we finish this project, we want to send it to festivals, then maybe the next time around the funding will be there for something bigger,” Saumell said.
Currently, the film has no budget. However, the Maryville Film Club is seeking sponsors and donations and they are selling T-shirts to raise funds. Anyone who would like to purchase a shirt, e-mail the club or send $12 with name, address and shirt size to P.O. Box 6285 Maryville, TN 37802. For more information regarding any aspect of the movie including sponsorships, donations, roles or production, e-mail the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.