When Katie and Maura Smith were growing up, they’d watch movies and find themselves wanting more from the stories and characters.
“We grew up on a farm, and when we were younger we always read a lot of books and watched a lot of movies,” said Katie, who along with her sister lives in Graceville, Fla. “We’d watch movies and would enjoy them, but so many were lacking in depth of story.”
Now, the sisters are turning those years of frustration into creativity through their own independent film called “The Offender.”
Katie is directing, Maura wrote the script, and together they’re working on the soundtrack to the movie.
When it came time to select filming locations, Katie and Maura were blown away by Troy University’s Dothan Campus.
“I had put out a casting announcement at (Southeast Alabama Community Theatre), and I got a reply from a man named Dr. Bill Lipscomb, a TROY professor,” Katie said. “He mentioned, ‘If you ever need locations, maybe come to TROY. I had scoped out some other local colleges and seen the classrooms and hallways, and I was in Dothan that day, so I gave them a call.”
The Smiths sat down that day with Associate Dean of Students Sandy Henry and Events Coordinator Stacie Foster at the Dothan Campus, and that conversation paid dividends.
“They were real open to letting us go in and film,” Katie said. “When I saw, from a movie making perspective, three buildings, and all the hallways looked different, I knew could use them for several different scenes.”
Maura admired the buildings and the flexibility they gave the sisters in directing scenes.
“You can make one location look like three or four and that’s great for coordinating with actors,” she said. “So many times when you’re trying to find a location, you get transferred to someone and transferred to someone else, but to talk to somebody real who was listening to what you were actually doing was different. Because TROY is a college working with young people who are trying to create new things, that made them more open to what we were doing.”
The sisters describe “The Offender” as a film about redemption.
The main character is a former CIA operative who is dealing with the repercussions of his past actions.
“He starts out as sort of the bad guy, but he doesn’t realize he is. He’s just doing what he’s told,” Maura said. “He took life of man who didn’t deserve it. In order to cover for himself, his boss had our main character killed supposedly. That’s when his new life starts. We focused on him trying to right his wrongs more than we did on making it some cool James Bond movie. When you’re on a budget, it makes sense to not take yourself too seriously.”
Because everyone involved works day jobs, filming is still far from complete.
The Smiths hope to have the film finished in time for film festival season next spring, but if not, next summer is the target date for completion.
In the meantime, they’re looking for a college-aged actor to fill a key role in the movie.
“We just released a casting notice for one of our last leading roles, a character who doesn’t appear until the latter half of the movie, Andrew,” Katie said. “We would love to see if any Trojans want to come out for that.”
Anyone interested in the role should contact Katie at Katie.Smith@bellsouth.net.