By now, especially if you follow Shatterglass Studios on Facebook, you know its new offshoot, Shatterglass Films, along with Chaz Ebert, will adapt to film Chris Benson’s book about Emmett Till.
Benson’s “Death Of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America” tells of the life of the Chicago teen who, while visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta, was brutally tortured and killed by white men after supposedly whistling at a white woman.
The movie will be shot next year in Illinois and Mississippi.
It might be the first of many features to be made here by Shatterglass Films. Brett Hays, producer at Shatterglass, believes central Illinois is ripe for and can sustain movie making for many reasons.
Others here believe the same and have become executive producers and partners in Shatterglass Films: Jennifer Shelby, Habeeb Habeeb and Scott Reichard.
Now Shatterglass Films seeks others to be associate producers, to help share in the potential profits of movies to made here.
And the glamour of it all as well.
Reichard came on board as an executive producer and partner in Shatterglass Studios immediately after meeting Hays and Luke Boyce, the creative mind behind Shatterglass, 10 years ago.
Reichard said he recognized their talent and abilities. Shelby and Habeeb joined the company early this year.
Habeeb said he did so because he’s “extremely enthused about the possibilities for our community” via filmmaking.
“Long ago, Chicago was never thought of as a film town, then some had a vision to bring film to Chicago and look at it now,” Habeeb said. “Our community can have similar success as we bring film here. I recognize the importance of the creative sector to our economy. Companies’ decisions about where to locate their businesses often are influenced by factors such as availability of arts and culture and amenities that attract talented young workers and stimulate tourism.”
Reichard, a partner with Habeeb at Benefit Planning Consultants Inc., said another reason he joined forces with Shatterglass Films was “Consumed,” which had the working title of “Food.”
Hays was the line producer on “Consumed,” shot last year entirely in Champaign County.
The thriller, directed by Daryl Wein, will have its world premiere June 15 at the Los Angeles Film Festival. It’s about a mother’s investigation into her son’s illness that leads her to the world of genetically modified foods.
Reichard and others with Shatterlgass said “Consumed” and other movies made here will put Champaign-Urbana on the map and stimulate the local economy.
Hays said the “Consumed” cast and crew spent tens of thousands of dollars here, on food and housing alone.
Hays sold Wein and his crew on making “Consumed” here after Wein first thought he’d shoot in the Chicago area. This area had the infrastructure, locations and enthusiastic support of the community, Hays said.
He said it’s also much more affordable to make movies here than in large cities. He wants to sell that idea in various ways, among them by working toward having a regional Illinois Film Office located in Champaign County to bring in some of the $300 million spent each year on filmmaking in Illinois, according to the Chicago-based Illinois Film Office.
Hays noted at a recent meeting of Shatterglass exec producers and community leaders that C-U and the county have really gotten behind filmmaking here over the past 10 years, mainly because of the strong support for the arts and business.
Already, a few indie movies have been made here. Also helping the growth of filmmaking here are the C-U Film Society, Champaign Movie Makers and Pens to Lens, in which local filmmakers make short films based on scripts written by area K-12 students.
Recently, Chaz, Kohn, Boyce, Hays and Shelby met up at the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France to drum up more support for Shatterlgass and the Till movie and to meet with industry leaders.
There, they announced that Shatterglass Films had optioned Benson’s “Death of Innocence” and would shoot the movie here and in Mississippi.
It’s timely, as this year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Till, who was 14 when he was killed. His mother helped spark the Civil Rights Movement by insisting on an open casket and media coverage of her mutilated son.
Till’s story has been told via a couple of documentaries released in 2003. This would be the first feature narrative.
“The full Emmett Till story needs to be told now and told well as a narrative for our times, given all that is happening on American streets today, and Shatterglass Films are the people to tell it,” Chaz Ebert told media at Cannes.
She and Kohn are executive producing the movie while Boyce, Hays, Shelby and Benson will produce.
Benson, a University of Illinois journalism professor, co-wrote the Till book with Till’s mother, the late Mamie Till-Mobley. It was nominated for a 2004 Pulitzer Prize and won a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award special recognition that same year.