By Shannon Sneed
The Eatonton Messenger
March 29, 2018
Speaking at a recent Eatonton Kiwanis Club meeting, Tytan CEO Jim Stone noted the company has three objectives — making movies, supporting others making movies and getting the crew here to put it all together.
The company consists of Tytan Pictures, which is a film production company, Tytan Studios, which is the physical studio where they provide services for people to make movies – including themselves – and the creation of the Georgia Entertainment Arts Readiness (GEAR) program.
While in Tybee Island, where they were residents for 19 years, the Stones regularly traveled to and from Atlanta while conducting business for the film industry, and the only area they would stop in central Georgia was Macon.
Stone noted he wasn’t impressed and thought that’s what all of central Georgia was like.
“I didn’t want any part of anything more than a mile away from the freeway,” he said.
All of that changed when longtime friend, colleague and Eatonton native, Walt Rocker III, invited him to visit Eatonton.
Stone, who has 16 Emmy nominations and 10 wins under his belt, noted that after some successful projects for the company, the economy began slowing down around 2008, so he decided to take Rocker up on the offer to visit the community.
“We finally came up here and went, ‘Wow! This is really, really nice up here and the people are nice,’” said Stone. “We drove by the old Aluminum plant and we go, ‘Wow! That kind of looks like Santa Monica 50 years ago.’”
It’s the charm of the community that makes the area so appealing, said Jim’s wife and Tytan Executive Producer, Roxy Stone, in an earlier interview with The Messenger.
And the Stones are sharing that same charm that attracted them to Eatonton with colleagues in the film industry.
“We’ve had the people from Marvel come by, the people from Mission Impossible come by,” said Stone. “And, we’ve had the top special effects guys in the world spend the weekend with us here.”
The area has a lot of attractions, he noted.
“I’ve got some hardware, but in all of those years I was in Tybee, I might have seen one or two big shots in our office, literally in the last two months I’ve had incredible people come here to Eatonton and it’s because of our location.”
Within a 60-mile radius of Atlanta, Putnam County becomes a prime location for filming because of its close proximity to where many crewmembers live, including the several Putnam County residents who already travel to Atlanta to work in the industry.
Stone noted that from a union standpoint, which many crew members belong to, the mileage is important because the crew would be considered local hires and wouldn’t have to be paid per diem and lodging.
“And, quite frankly, it’s much faster to get here from I-285 than it is to get to Pinewood through town [Atlanta],” said Stone. “So we always say think minutes, not miles, because 15 miles in Atlanta is the same as 75 miles to Eatonton.”
The Ritz Carlton is also really attractive to A-listers who need lodging while in town.
“It’s literally 22 minutes away,” said Stone. “We’ve timed it. And a lot of stars already stay there, so they’re familiar with it.”
Tytan Pictures is currently working on “Redemption: The Darryl Strawberry Story.”
Now a born-again Christian, Stone noted Strawberry previously lived an X-rated life, but doesn’t want all of that on screen.
“He wants the grit of what happened, he just doesn’t want it portrayed in vivid living color with full frontal nudity,” Stone said.
Tytan Pictures is also an investor in “God’s Gone Fishing,” written by George Folsey Jr. and Gary Martin, and starring Bruce Dern.
“They were going to film it in North Carolina,” said Stone. “They are now going to film it in Putnam County.”
Also in the works is a Netflix film about a woman, portrayed by Miranda Lambert, who tries to become a professional bass fishermen; and a third film in the Storm Soldiers series called Freedom’s Pass.
“I get really excited about all of it,” said Stone. “But, this is the movie industry, you have to put 10 things up and hopefully one hits when you think it will hit.”
He also noted that Hollywood is a very fickle place that is changing even faster because of streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.
“It took 31 years for radio to hit 50 million listeners; it took television 13 years; and it took Instagram 1.5 years. This has replaced television,” said Stone holding up a smartphone. “It has almost replaced the theaters.”
He also advised that it’s a real high stakes game of poker in Hollywood right now because streaming is where the money is being made – on the subscription model.
“I like making inspirational films, I like making a positive impact on people,” said Stone, noting Tytan Pictures’ goal is to make Eatonton and Putnam County the number one destinations in Georgia for independent and inspirational filmmaking.
“There’s a lot of people who dream about making films,” said Stone, “We want to help them fulfill those dreams, and we want to bring them here and let them know how welcome they are and what great people we have here.”