November 6, 2008
"Hope's Wish" keeps giving - The most any of us can wish for is to
leave this world a better place for our having been in it. Soon the
world will know how 12-year-old Hope Stout left this world a better
place when she died of cancer in 2003. Her inspirational story is the
subject of a feature-length film to be shot in the Charlotte region
during December and January.
The cameras will start rolling at Bank of America Stadium during the
Panther's home game Dec. 8. Hundreds of local crew members will be
hired, including some who will film Charlotte streetscapes for the
movie's holiday segments. Filming will be on hiatus over the holidays,
then the more dramatic segments will be shot in mid-January when
production resumes. Pre-production, which has begun, editing and
finishing all will be done in Charlotte. Joanne Hock, co-founder of
Charlotte-based Emulsion Arts, has written the original script. The
cast, including some well-known stars, will be announced in a few weeks.
When Rick Eldridge, president and CEO of The Film Foundry, a Charlotte-
based film production company, and head of Independent Producers
Alliance (IPA), moved back to Charlotte 13 years ago, he was
determined to help build the regional industry and support local film
community any way he could.
"Although I can't shoot every film here, I try to as much as
possible," Eldridge said. His current release "Running the Sahara,"
which he co-produced with Matt Damon, was filmed in Africa. "However,
this is very much a Charlotte story. The people of Charlotte who
rallied around Hope and her wish are the same people who have rallied
around the film. And the movie will let the world know how thousands
of people were touched by Hope's wish that Charlotte's Make-A-Wish
Foundation grant the wishes of all 155 of the other terminally ill
children on its list."
Beth Petty, director of the Charlotte Regional Film Commission, said
that Charlotte has all the locations and talent needed for this
project. Petty leveraged those assets to recruit movies, such as "The
Patriot," "Talladega Nights" and "Leatherheads," among others.
"We are very appreciative of Rick Eldridge, Bert Hesse, Joanne Hock
and all the other film industry professionals who have chosen to call
Charlotte home," Petty said.
Executive producer Bert Hesse of Charlotte-based film production
company Synthetic Fur, has been working closely with Hope's parents,
Stuart and Shelby Stout, for the past three years to bring Hope's
story to the big screen. He and Eldridge are committed to using the
film as a vehicle to expand Hope's dream of fulfilling other
children's wishes through the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the family's
non-profit, the March Forth with Hope Foundation.
The producers also are working closely with Carolinas Medical Center
to shoot on the floor on which Hope died. Since that floor is being
renovated, filming would not disrupt patient care. The Charlotte
production companies are partnering with Dean River, a production
company based in Los Angeles with which Eldridge worked on "The
Ultimate Gift," to produce the film.
20th Century Fox is handling the theatrical and DVD releases.
PorchLight Entertainment will be the international distributor. The
producers say they plan to release Hope's Wish in time for the 2009