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Movie crew filming scenes in Richmond Hill
Movie 001
A film crew prepares to shoot a scene in front of Way Station Coffee Co. on Thursday. - photo by Ted O'Neil

Ben Franklin. In a Corvette. In Richmond Hill.

Not something you expect to see around town, but then again, it’s not every day that Hollywood comes to Richmond Hill.

The above-mentioned scene was the setting for part of a movie being filmed in front of Way Station Coffee Co. Thursday titled “In Search of Liberty.”

The indie movie details a modern-day family who meets Franklin, who then takes them on a tour of the Bill of Rights that dramatizes what society would be like without the Constitution.

“We only refer to him as ‘Ben’ in the movie, but it’s obvious who he is,” said Tom Solari, the script writer. “It’s a look at what would it be like if he showed up today to explain the Constitution and its value.”

Solari said the movie, which includes dramatic and entertaining aspects, is educational.

“I don’t think anyone will get bored with the characters or the situations they are put in,” he said. “Ben Franklin was brilliant. He was an inventor, a musician, a diplomat and an entrepreneur. What he did still resonates today.”

Solari said the movie has been five years in the making while the production team raised money. The film is not intended for theatrical release. Solari said it will have educational value for teachers, homeschoolers and the “grassroots movement.”

Solari said the Constitution’s amendments “are the rules of the game we play by in this game we call America,” and it is important for citizens to understand how and why they exist.

The movie features Bobby Deen of Savannah, son of Paula Deen and star of the Cooking Channel’s “Not My Momma’s Meals,” and Jimmy Hager as Ben Franklin. Solari has a long career in both performing and writing, having appeared on “The Sonny & Cher Show,” “The Ray Stevens Show” and “The Tonight Show” as part of the comedy troupe Solari & Carr.

Most of the movie is being filmed in Savannah, which Solari said the crew picked because of Georgia’s film subsidies and the connection Eric Sherman, one of the producers and a Los Angeles film professor, had with students at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
How they ended up shooting scenes in Richmond Hill, however, is sheer coincidence.

“We were at the gun range on Kilkenny Road filming a part about the Second Amendment and I Googled ‘coffee shop,’” Solari said. “Way Station came up, and the fact it’s located on Constitution Way really caught my eye.”

Way Station owner Patty Gunderson said it surprised her when some of the crew showed up to scout the location.

“It was totally out of the blue,” she said. “But they told me what sealed the deal is the fact we have an American flag hanging on the wall inside.”

The movie is slated for release this fall.

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