Covey Film Festival

Filmmaker ‘excited’ for local premiere

THOMASVILLE — Michael Carney came to Thomasville looking for East St. Louis. Instead, he’s found a new home.

Carney, a filmmaker, will have the regional premiere of his movie “Same Kind of Different As Me” on Oct. 26 at Gateway Cinemas.

“I’m very excited,” Carney said of the film’s local debut.

Carney was scouting for locations, one that resembled East St. Louis, Illinois, when he came to Thomasville. He’s now a resident of the city.

“I had one child and another on the way. We fell in love with the town and the people,” he said. “It’s a great place to raise the kids. We’ve fallen in love with it. It felt right.”

Georgia’s aggressive film tax credits led to the location scouting trip. “Same Kind of Different As Me” was shot on location, in Jackson, Mississippi.

Adapted from the book written by Ron Hall, the movie tells the story of an art dealer, his wife and a homeless man.

Carney, the director and a co-writer, said he tapped into Hall, who also has a co-writing credit for the movie.

“He was an open book to tell us anything and everything,” Carney said. “It tells the events of real people.”

Getting able to tell stories through film appeals to Carney.

“It’s amazing we get to do this,” he said. “It’s one of those rare opportunities in life to tell a story.”

The cast he assembled for the movie packs a great deal of star power. Greg Kinnear plays Ron Hall in the movie. Jon Voight, who won an Academy Award for Best Actor and has been nominated three times for Best Supporting Actor, plays Earl Hall. Renee Zellweger, winner of a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, portrays Deborah Hall, and Djimon Hounsou, nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, plays Denver, the homeless drifter.

“We were shooting for the stars,” Carney said, “and we got them.”

The Oct. 26 showing at Gateway Cinemas, set for 7 p.m., is part of the ongoing Covey Film Festival. The movie has had its Los Angeles premiere and Carney said the movie is being well-received, especially Hounsou in his role as Denver.

“A lot of people have been moved,” he said. “The fact it is a true story, this really happened, helps.”

Carney’s goal is to make more family- and faith-based movies — and he wants to bring more movies to Thomasville.

“My heart is to drive a lot of business into the area and show people how special Thomasville is,” he said. “I want to do a lot of work here. I plan on being around here for the long haul.”

Editor Pat Donahue can be reached at (229) 226-2400 ext. 1806.

Lisa Billups