by Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor, The Dove Foundation
The Greening of Whitney Brown is a Dove approved film
about a pre-teen from Philadelphia who is taken from her comfort zone
when her parents move. The Dove Foundation was fortunate enough to interview the filmís producer, Ed Fitts, who comes across in a very amiable
manner and who was obviously enthusiastic about the movie.
Dove: How did you become involved in this film?
Ed: "First of all, I am one of the executive producers.
Itís a terribly interesting story--I wonít bore you with the details. Weíre in
the horse business, breeding the Gypsy Vanner horses, which started about seven
years ago, and this friend who does some photographic work for us knew a fellow
in Tous, New Mexico, that was a writer, director, and producer; an elderly gentleman
who had written a lot of stuff. He brought us a script of a story about a young
girl and a horse called Amyís Magic Gypsy. We kind of liked the story but the
further we got into it we realized it wasnít really what we had in mind. Long
story short, we abandoned that screenplay and came up with a new idea and ended
up producing this movie, The Greening of Whitney Brown. It was a
story about the Gypsy Vanner horses, and a young girl; a family-oriented
story. But it was more of a drama than a family-fun movie. We kind of shifted
horses in the middle of the stream and we hired Gail Gilchrist to write a new
screenplay for us. We gave her the storyline based on some ideas we had."
Ed said the focus became a good family and fun film but
with an emphasis on the relevant theme of the economy. He also wanted it to
focus on a horse, which it obviously does. In addition, they wanted to incorporate the
country scenery around Philadelphia. It was intended that a lot of the filming
would take place at Edís ranch in Chester County, Pennsylvania but the location
changed. Ed added that another main theme of the film is how that certain
situations can either change or bring out the values in peopleís lives.
Dove: The casting was great. The cast of course
features Sammi Hanratty, Brooke Shields and Aiden Quinn. How involved were you
Ed: "We were pretty much involved in it as was the casting
director of course. Clearly Sammi was head and shoulders above the other eight
or ten young girls who were there (to audition) and there were some who had
greater experience than Sammi had but her personality is just incredible.
She was just wonderful to work with and a lot of
fun. Of course we were thrilled to death to fill out the rest of the cast with
the likes of Kris Kristofferson, Aidan Quinn and Brooke Shields. We
were just ecstatic to attract that level of talent. And, they fit the roles
perfectly. Kris is just a great grandfather in the film."
Dove: What challenges did you face in making the
Ed: "Unfortunately we hit a roadblock very, very early
on. We had planned to film this movie in Chester County, Pennsylvania. We had
set up camp there. We had office space rented. This was around July and August.
And every day we hoped the State was going to approve their budget. As you may
or may not know, the State of Pennsylvania offers
tax credits for movie production that are a budgeted item (he laughs)." He added that
two movies ahead of them had already received commitments from the State for the
remaining allotted funds. So had the production team remained in Pennsylvania
there would have been no tax credit available for them. Since the budget had
not been approved there was no certainty in the situation. This was a key
element which forced them to change their plan and location. Other factors
contributed and so, as Mr. Fitts put it, "We ripped up our roots and we moved
very rapidly to the Atlanta area.
Amazingly, we found locations around Atlanta that were
almost identical to what we had found in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It really
was a blessing in disguise. The State of Georgia was very happy to have us
there. Things happen for a reason."
Mr. Fitts laughed when he mentioned another challenge:
"They tell you to never produce a movie which has children and animals in it!"
he laughed. This one has both! "But the child was wonderful and the
horse was great," he added.
"There are so many animated films out there for kids
today," Mr. Fitts continued. "Thatís kind of what attracted us to this one. This
is a real-life story