A Hollywood-based movie production company is partnering with Northwest Arkansas businesses to help create the company’s next theatrical production. The casting director and a principal actor are from Fort Smith.
Husband and wife team Ryan and Jennica Schwartzman own Purpose Pictures Productions, which is shooting its movie “Parker’s Anchor,” between Dec. 31 and Jan. 16 in the Fayetteville area. Ryan Schwartzman is from Winslow and has family in the area. The couple also filmed their movie Gordon Family Tree in this area.
“We are holding a local casting call for 19 paid speaking roles and another 50 unpaid background acting roles (featured and extras),” Jennica Schwartzman said. “We are holding auditions September 10- 11 in Fayetteville but encourage artists from all around to come out for it. Details with be solidified and posted on our Facebook page for the film Parker’s Anchor.”
According to a press release from Purpose Pictures Productions, “the story of Parker’s Anchor follows Krystal Parker, who discovers late in adulthood that she is unable to have children. The news slowly destroys her marriage; she moves back home and leans on the support of her high school best friend. Krystal starts over—but is she really starting over? Or was this the plan for her life all along? This film is about relationships, struggling with identity and letting go of plans.”
Jennica Schwartzman said several other Arkansas natives are associated with the film.
“Our three-time Primetime Emmy-nominated casting director and producer Elizabeth Barnes is from Fort Smith,” she said. “We met Elizabeth through a mutual friend here in Los Angeles. She loves her hometown and was thrilled to work with us on this film. She helped us find and cast Fort Smith native Brandon Keener (Catch Me If You Can, The Guilt Trip, He’s Just Not That Into You) in our film.”
“Northwest Arkansas-grown actress/comedian/and best-selling author Sarah Colonna also joins us,” Schwartzman said. “All our Arkansas-connected Los Angeles performers were thrilled to come work on a film in their home state. It is clear that the Northwest Arkansas community is special.”
Colonna is best known for her work on “Chelsea Lately” with Chelsea Handler.
Besides filming on location in Northwest Arkansas, the production company is utilizing local resources in two unique ways.
“We implemented an education initiative and are hiring interns from John Brown University and the University of Arkansas’ cinema programs for every department so they can learn from the professionals on set during the film,” Schwartzman said. “We think it’s important to be teaching while you work so that positive film sets like ours will spread to the next generation.”
The work with the UA students is expected to begin in September, Schwartzman said. This will be the second time the Schwartzmans have worked with JBU students. Steve Snediker, assistant professor of visual art-digital cinema at JBU, spoke with The City Wire about how the partnership helps his students and the program at large.
“It gives the students real-world film experience,” he said. “Some come into the program with a glamorized view of the production process. We tell them it’s hard work but somehow that gets glossed over until they work (on a project).”
Snediker said JBU’s program is “designed to push people towards this type of experience. The students are required to have an internship.” He said having students doing work on the various film crews gives the department credibility in the recruitment process.
“We can (show) it’s a credible film program with real-world work,” he said.
Schwartzman said they also are creating sponsorship proposals for local businesses, something they did during their “Gordon Family Tree” production with success. The plan is to feature local businesses and include the location’s real name.
“We have already partnered with several restaurants, Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters, local boutiques, an arcade, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Little Guy Movers, and a few others,” she said. “We love our business partners. They really make the film possible and we do everything we can to push them on all social media outlets and share their story with all the folks we encounter on the film.”
Ava Arsaga, co-owner of Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters, said her family and Ryan Schwartzman’s family are long-time friends so her family was happy to participate. She said it’s a positive thing for local businesses to get involved and she appreciates how Arkansas will be portrayed.
“What’s nice is they are doing some portrayals of Arkansas that are good,” she said. “It’s great that they chose something like our places to portray a different look at the Ozarks (than what is normally portrayed in movies).”
Schwartzman said they are still seeking partnerships with all kinds of businesses.
“Right now we are on the hunt for some medical offices, a large swimming pool, and a gift shop for locations. We are looking for a locally run office supply store, a hardware store, a karaoke bar, a thrift store, a lumber yard, and a few other places,” she said.
“I don’t want to forget that we are looking for a few non-profits and organizations to highlight in the film. We are specifically looking for organizations that promote infertility awareness, adoption advocacy, women empowerment, tutoring at-risk youth, and international humanitarian efforts.”
While the exposure for the college students and individual businesses are considered positive, there’s also a perceived overall positive impact on the region’s economy. Chung Tan, director of economic development at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, said it’s a positive for the local economy.
“It's wonderful that we continue to get films done in Fayetteville. It goes to show that we have the assets such as talent, location, culture, and affordability to help this industry to be successful,” she said. “Filming usually involves a lot of people and so for the immediate term, there is the general revenues generated when the filming crew spends money on meals, gas, etc. The film will be promoting Fayetteville as a location for future shoots. This activity helps our local talent to hone in their skills and over time adds to the collective talent in the creative industry.”
Anyone interested in working with the film should contact Schwartzman at Jennica@purposepicturesproductions.com