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Mayberry Man gets big launch

A few days before Wednesday’s “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter fundraising campaign launch, Producer Cort Howell joked if the project were to raise $1 million, “We’d be talking about a very different kind of movie.”

A million dollars might still be so far out there that it doesn’t even qualify as a pipe dream, but if Wednesday’s kick-off is any indication, reaching — and exceeding — the $100,000 Kickstarter goal may be a lot easier than is the case many with such fundraising efforts.

As of 5 p.m. on Thursday — slightly less than 24 hours after the kickoff event at The Loaded Goat in Mount Airy — the effort had already garnered $23,891, with 122 people backing the feature film. Among those is one person who snagged a $5,000 Deputy Level supporter, another person who had pledged $3,000 for the Actor Level support, and one who had plunked down $2,000 for the Aunt B Level support.

“We were hoping to reach 20% of our target within the first 48 hours, so we are thrilled with the response so far,” Howell said. “Such a fast start tells us that Mayberry fans are eager to participate and want to see this project succeed.”

The Kickstarter campaign for the movie began Wednesday, running 45 days, with a goal of raising at least $100,000 to help fund the movie. Those supporting the campaign can earn various rewards, depending upon the level of support, from $10 — which gets the donor a “thank you” listing in the movie credits and an online pre-release screening — all the way up to a $10,000 Sheriff Level supporter, which nets the donor an executive producer credit, a speaking part and closeup in the film, the donor’s entire family appearing in the film, VIP passes to the red carpet screening when the movie opens, and a host of other gifts.

The effort got underway this week with three different kickoff events: the one at the Loaded Goat in Mount Airy; in Danville, Indiana, home of the annual Mayberry in the Midwest festival, held at the Mayberry Cafe; and in Burbank, California, where writer-director Stark Howell and co-producer Gregory Schell hosted a number of fans and actors and entertainers.

Among the celebrities at the California event were Ronnie Schell, Jackie Joseph, Karen Knotts, Leroy McNeese, Chris Showerman, and Dink O’Neal, all of whom either appeared in “The Andy Griffith Show,” or are related to someone who appeared in the series.

“The celebrities enjoyed mingling with all the fans,” said Stark Howell. “It’s a lot like our partnership with supporters of Mayberry Man. We enjoy including the fans in the process.”

While some of the better-known celebrities associated with the show, and the movie, were in California, folks attending the event in Mount Airy seemed to be happy to take part.

“We just came up to help support the movie,” said Ronnie Felker, who along with his wife, Elease Felker, were on hand in full Deputy Fife and Thelma Lou regalia. The couple had driven from Clinton, South Carolina, to attend. “We come up every Mayberry Days. Any excuse to come to Mayberry is a good excuse.”

Pat and Carroll Hooker, who live on Main Street in Mount Airy, said they grew up in Mount Airy and have always enjoyed “The Andy Griffith Show.”

“She grew up on the same street Andy did,” Carroll said of his wife, Pat. Once Griffith became a star, before moving his parents to California, he would occasionally come back to visit, and Pat would often catch a glimpse of him. “Once she saw him with Don Knotts,” he said.

“We were interested to see what the movie is about,” Pat said of their presence at The Loaded Goat. “We love Mayberry. We’re so glad to be from Mayberry. We just wanted to see what’s going on with the movie.”

That sense of curiosity brought others out as well.

“We just wanted to get a taste of what the movie is about,” said Lucy Love, of Pilot Mountain, who was there with her children, Paige and Tatum Love. Both kids said they enjoy watching “The Andy Griffith Show,” though Lucy said they’re not as hardcore about it as she is.

“I grew up watching the show,” she said. “But they have more things competing for their attention than I did when I was their age.”

Loaded Goat owner J. Scott Freeman seemed to be happy with Wednesday’s turnout, spending the evening going from table to table, talking with customers. Freeman said the movie’s producers had talked with him months ago about holding the kickoff at his establishment.

“It’s the Loaded Goat, a perfect place,” he said in reference to the restaurant sharing its name with a popular episode of the series. “Even without the Mayberry connection, it’s a popular venue.”

It’s also the location of some of the planned filming for the movie.

“One of the pivotal scenes … pivotal to the arc of the movie, will be shot here,” he said, smiling, before adding that was all he could say about the script.

The Kickstarter drive will continue through Feb. 29 and can be accessed at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1607422854/feature-film-mayberry-man?ref=backertracker&utm_medium=web&utm_source=backerkit

Though scheduling is still subject to change, Cort Howell said his crew hopes to start filming in spring at the Mayberry event in Indiana, then do the bulk of the work in Mount Airy during the Mayberry Days Festival in September. Preliminary plans are to have the movie premiere in spring.

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Mount Airy’s Donna Hiatt, foreground, snaps a picture of her daughter, Kandis George (second from right), posing with, from left, Bo Pierce of Knoxville, Tenn., and Ronnie and Elease Felker of Clinton, S.C., at The Loaded Goat in Mount Airy Wednesday night during the “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter launch party.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_20200115_180600.jpgMount Airy’s Donna Hiatt, foreground, snaps a picture of her daughter, Kandis George (second from right), posing with, from left, Bo Pierce of Knoxville, Tenn., and Ronnie and Elease Felker of Clinton, S.C., at The Loaded Goat in Mount Airy Wednesday night during the “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter launch party. John Peters | Mount Airy News

Lucy Love (center, seated) and her kids, Paige and Tatum Love, chat with Elease Felker during Wednesday’s “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter launch party.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_loaded-goat.jpgLucy Love (center, seated) and her kids, Paige and Tatum Love, chat with Elease Felker during Wednesday’s “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter launch party. John Peters | Mount Airy News

Loaded Goat owner J. Scott Freeman takes a few minutes to chat with Carroll (foreground) and Pat Hooker of Mount Airy. The two were at the Loaded Goat Wednesday evening for one of three “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter fundraising launch parties held across the country.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_20200115_181648.jpgLoaded Goat owner J. Scott Freeman takes a few minutes to chat with Carroll (foreground) and Pat Hooker of Mount Airy. The two were at the Loaded Goat Wednesday evening for one of three “Mayberry Man” Kickstarter fundraising launch parties held across the country. John Peters | Mount Airy News

By John Peters

jpeters@mtairynews.com

Reach John at 415-4701.

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Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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