When the opportunity came to write the freshman season of a six-episode TV series, “These Stones,” it opened the door for me to feature a variety of landmarks in Cherokee County. (If you missed last month’s article, visit https://aroundwoodstockmagazine.com/bringing-tv-production-from-los-angeles-to-woodstock/. You can read more about “These Stones” at stoneimpactmedia.com.)
“These Stones” is a faith-based fictional series of half-hour episodes; each one features a present-day character being helped by a Bible character who shares a parallel experience as the person he or she is trying to help. The show gave us a chance to highlight relatable challenges like loss, grief, opioid addiction, alcoholism, how to face broken dreams and self-esteem issues.
When I first started meeting with others about the series, I had most of my meetings with actors and crew at the coffee shop, Circle of Friends. It’s nestled inside The Circuit, the co-working space at Chattahoochee Technical College in downtown Woodstock. Circle of Friends is run by adults with disabilities, and, since my first visit, I wanted to work it into a script. I talked to Glenn and Diane Keen, co-founders of Circle of Friends. Thankfully, they were very supportive of the idea of us doing a story in their cafe.
In the second episode, I wrote about a young man, Jimmy, with Down syndrome, who aches to have friends. He’s lonely because his mother is overprotective and keeps him home, for fear he’ll be made fun of or get hurt. Resistant to outsiders, she’s visited by a Bible character whose mother had to choose to give him up so he could impact the world. When a friendly 911 operator, played by Dexter Masland, shows up to do a wellness check on Jimmy, his mother finds out he’s been repeatedly calling the 911 dispatcher because he wants friends. The 911 operator tells her about Circle of Friends, suggesting her son get a job there where he will be accepted by others, make friends and have a chance to share the gift he can be to others in the world.
Out of the 25 days we filmed the series, the day we filmed the scene when Jimmy gets a job at the cafe became the favorite of the cast and crew. We had members of the Circle of Friends staff in the scene. They welcomed our actor playing Jimmy, David DeSanctis of “Where Hope Grows” and Hallmark’s “Color My World With Love,” into their fold.
Diane, Kaitie, Nick and the rest of the Circle of Friends staff were incredible and patient with all of us as we took over the space for a few hours to film.
We hung around the rest of the day to film additional scenes from the same episode. To do so, we staged the 911 call center in the Cherokee Office of Economic Development’s film office. We’re so thankful to the cafe staff, Cindy Holland of Chattahoochee Tech, Molly Mercer of Cherokee Office of Economic Development and her co-workers for their support and hospitality.
We hope featuring Circle of Friends on an episode will bring awareness to the outreach, as well as inspire others to start ventures like this all over the world.
My hope for the future is that we can make many seasons and grow our “These Stones” circle of friends — all those who are involved in our show — right here at home.
– Cheryl McKay Price writes faith-based movies, TV shows and novels. She and her husband, Chris, have called Woodstock home since 2015. Their Woodstock-based production companies are Roads & Rivers Media and Stone Impact Media.