July 24, 2008

Anderson Native Films Scenes in Spartanburg

By Lynne P. Shackleford, Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C.

Jul. 23--A two-story brick home in the Hawk Creek neighborhood on Spartanburg's west side served as the backdrop Tuesday for a short film featuring a Grammy-nominated artist and a supporting actor from the Matrix film series.

Produced by Anderson native Javon Johnson, who co-directs and acts in the drama he's also written, "Roses R Dead" is the story of one man's journey to save his future by retracing his path in life.

Julian, played by Johnson, finds his father, Vernon, a homeless alcoholic, who confesses his transgressions in an attempt to receive forgiveness from his son. The confession comes too late, and Julian poisons his father to end his pain by killing what he believes is its source.

Anne Ragland of Anderson-based Star Reach Recording Studio works with Johnson's production company, Javon Johnson Productions, and suggested filming scenes in Spartanburg and Anderson. Her friend, Yolanda Harper, offered her Mosswood Lane home for filming scenes.

Shooting on the film, which will be marketed to television networks, began around 6 a.m. and wrapped up in the late afternoon Tuesday.

Chante Moore, a Grammy-nominated recording artist, landed in Charlotte, N.C., to film several scenes as Julian's wife.

Moore, Johnson and Johnson's 3-year-old daughter, PJ, shot several scenes in the kitchen of the Harper home before getting approval from Johnson and co-director Deirdre Smith.

The crew will head to Anderson today when Harry Lennix, who has appeared in "The Matrix Revolutions,""The Matrix Reloaded,""Enter the Matrix" and "Barbershop 2: Back in Business," is expected to join the filming.

"This is a short film that will be used as a demo in the film industry, as a tool to get further funding for what we hope will be a lasting drama series maybe on HBO or another network," Ragland said. "I knew Javon was planning to start filming, and honestly, I thought to myself, why can't we do this here?"

Yolanda Harper said she and her husband, Mario, were more than happy to lend their home to the production.

"Being in the real estate business, I see firsthand how the economy is affecting how people spend and invest their money," Harper said. "People are more hesitant to spend

right now, but they're looking to the entertainment industry to make them laugh, to help them forget their problems, and we're just glad to be a part of what we hope will be a successful film."

For Johnson's part, he's hoping to use local talent during the film's production and lock onto excitement created from "Leatherheads" shooting in the Upstate.

"Roses R Dead is the beginning," Johnson said. "We have some other, smaller projects in the works, but we're really hoping this one gets enthusiasm and funding behind it, so we can make it work."


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