Two years after a car accident took her life, Katie Beth Carter continues to touch the lives of people in Catoosa County, emotionally, spiritually, and now, even financially.
Producers of the faith-based film "Kind Katie" anticipate the movie will generate "thousands and thousands" of dollars for the local economy.
Since the 18-year-old Heritage High School graduate passed away in 2016, filmmakers have been working to obtain the $1 million needed to shoot the movie in Ringgold and the surrounding community, where Katie grew up.
"I don't think Katie's story could be told without Ringgold and Catoosa County as the backdrop," said City Councilman Randall Franks, who knew Katie before she passed.
Much of that million-dollar production budget is expected to flow back into the community as prop makers visit local hardware stores to purchase set-building materials, wardrobe specialists drop off clothes at local dry cleaners, and caterers buy food from local restaurants and grocers, the councilman added.
"It is a tremendous undertaking to create a film or television project," said Franks, an actor whose career dates back more than 30 years. "Anything that you can imagine that you would use in your household, those services are needed on set."
The film also has the potential to further stimulate the economy by showing movie producers that Catoosa is welcoming to film crews, said Auric Steele, an Atlanta-based intellectual-property and entertainment attorney who called the project "something special."
But Katie's impact won't just be limited to Georgia.
Ten percent of the film's net proceeds will go toward the school in Nicaragua named after Katie, which was funded by Heritage High students in memorandum. Jason Carter, Katie's father, said he has been touched by the mission at Katie Beth Carter Memorial Institute, which provides education and medical care for children in Tomás Borge, one of the most impoverished communities in Nicaragua.
"We talk about this movie changing culture, changing attitudes, but the cool thing is, it's also going to literally change lives," Jason Carter said. "It's going to change the lives of people every day."
To make the film a reality, movie producer Jon Graham is looking to attract the needed $1 million through equity crowdfunding, which enables anyone to purchase shares in startups and other innovative companies not listed in the stock exchange for potential returns on investment.
"This is not typical in the film industry," he added, explaining that only one other feature film has used the method, to his knowledge.
So far, Graham said about 260 people from 35 states have expressed interest in investing at least $100 each. He believes the interest not only speaks volumes about the importance of Katie's story, but also bodes well for the film's success.
"Think about it this way: When the movie is done and we're ready to start getting the word out 35 U.S. states will already have an ambassador living in them, already excited to gather their groups," said Graham. "Most films don't already have that blessing walking in the door."
Graham said he believes the popularity of other projects in the Christian film industry will also contribute to the movie's success. He listed examples like the 2014 film "God's Not Dead," which brought in nearly $65 million on a production budget of only $2 million, according to box office records.
More recent examples include 2017 films "Let There Be Light" and "The Case for Christ," which brought in $7 million and $17 million, respectively, with $3 million budgets.
Despite the potential for financial gain, filmmakers say the movie is not about the bottom line.
"This is not just a movie and it's not just a business opportunity," Graham said. "It's a chance to really make a difference. And we're inviting you to be a part of it."
For more information about the film, visit kindkatiemovie.com.
Email Myron Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org.