JIMMY director talks about working with talent from HEAT and DEADWOOD and filming in Concord, North Carolina
Fresh out of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Mark Freiburger made a feature film with top talent, like Will Patton who has starred in, “Armageddon,” “Remember the Titans” and is now on the TNT series, “Falling Skies.”
Freiburger, who grew up in Charlotte, but now lives in Los Angles, worked with Patton thanks to one of Freiburger’s professors who knew Patton and put the two together for that first feature film, “Dog Days of Summer.”
“He was the first true professional that I had worked with as a director/actor relationship so needless to say he taught me a lot and he was very patient with my learning curve,” Freiburger said. “And I still take a lot of principles I learned from him on that first film for everything I do now.”
Freiburger applied those principles to one of his latest films, “Jimmy,” which was shot in Cabarrus County, shooting in downtown Concord. Hundreds of local extras were used in making the film, which shot at the Cabarrus County Courthouse and at several local homes.
“Jimmy” will screen at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at the historic Gem Theatre in Kannapolis as part of this year’s Modern Film Fest line up. The festival will also feature a documentary about Midland camera collector, Martin Hill and the Cannon Mills documentary, “Stitched in Time.” Tickets are $4 per movie.
“Jimmy” tells the story of a mentally challenged teenager who interacts with supernatural beings he calls “Watchers,” and the movie is based on a book written by Charlotte attorney and novelist, Robert Whitlow. Freiburger, who directed, “Jimmy,” was one of the writers who helped adapt the script and had previously adapted the script for Whitlow’s book, “The Trial.”
When Freiburger got ready to film, “Jimmy” he said he scouted around at more than a dozen towns and cities before settling on Concord.
“Concord just had the right look,” he said. “When you are making films like this, especially smaller ones, you want to choose one area and build the rest of your locations around that area.”
With the Cabarrus County Courthouse as one of the locations for the movie, Freiburger looked for homes near the courthouse that he could use for the movie as well. He found everything within walking distance.
“So Concord kind of had everything I wanted, or at least what I had pictured in my mind,” Freiburger said.
Now, Freiburger is working with is producer, Gary Wheeler, as they prepare to sell the movie. Freiburger said about six different distribution companies are eyeing, “Jimmy” for release.
Freiburger had previously worked with Wheeler, who directed, “The Trial.” Wheeler and Freiburger began working together after a mutual acquaintance introduced the two. For Freiburger his networking skills have helped his career. And the School of the Arts was one of the places he first began building that network.
The writers for his first feature film, “Dog Days of Summer” he met at the School of the Arts and include Travis Beacham who wrote the new, “Clash of the Titans” movie and Christopher J. Waild who has gone on to be an executive story editor for the popular TV show, “NCIS.”
Freiburger has also worked with top talent on the stage, directing the play, “110 Stories” at Los Angeles’ prestigious Geffen Playhouse. The play, which was about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, featuring Ed Asner (“Mary Tyler Moore,” “Up,” “The Boondocks”) John Hawkes (“Deadwood” and “American Gangster”) and Diane Venora (“Heat” and “The Insider).
And Freiburger hasn’t wasted any time gearing up for his next project. He has been hired to film the romantic dramedy, “Under the Apple Tree.” The movie is being produced by the same crew who shot, “Passion Play,” with Bill Murray and Mickey Rourke and, “Main Street” with Colin Firth and Orlando Bloom.
He looks to start shooting that film about November and is planning to film in the Charlotte area again.
For Freiburger it’s a career that stems back to another Cabarrus County connection. John Austin, who recently directed the Gem Theatre/Kannapolis documentary, “The Projection Booth,” is friends with Freiburger and the two met when Freiburger was 13-years-old.
Austin, who was older, met Freiburger through a mutual friend and helped him edit a video for a history project in school.
“I got the bug from that point on,” Freiburger said with a laugh. “From age 13 on I decided this is what I want to do for a living.”