By Adam Smith
It was all smiles Tuesday on the campus of Athens State University as the producers of a movie shot in the city came back to thank the community.
At a press conference held at Founders Hall, Edward Fudge and the producers of the biopic “Hell and Mr. Fudge” chatted with residents and the press about the experience of shooting a motion picture in Athens.
The movie, about the life of pastor and author Edward Fudge, was partially filmed at Athens State University and at other locations around the city last summer.
“We came to Athens because this is where the story took place,” said Pat Arrabito, another of the film’s producers. “The community here was so receptive, enthusiastic and helpful to us.”
She said while the state’s incentives to filmmakers were also attractive, that wasn’t what most appealed to the producers. She said there were few challenges in making a period movie that spanned from the 1950s through 1970s because of the amount of historic homes in the city and help from the local car club.
Producer Jeffrey Cardone said the only challenge came about on the day about 50 classic cars were needed.
“There was a hail storm and everybody scattered,” he said. “We eventually had the break in the weather to show enough of the automobiles.”
If every movie starts with a story, producers said they were captivated by the story of Edward Fudge, a Church of Christ minister and lawyer who challenged the traditional notion of hell for the unsaved in his book, “The Fire That Consumes.” The former Athens resident now lives in Houston, Texas.
He said the fact someone wanted to make a movie about his life and his message only helps to spread his view.
“(The producers) said, ‘We think you’re a weird enough character to do (the film),” he said. “I believe what I say in the book and I’m delighted to get the message out.”
Two back-to-back screenings of “Hell and Mr. Fudge” starring McKenzie Astin were shown Tuesday evening at the Cinemagic Theater in Athens.