News from the Tennessee Valley Diversions

Jay Burton of Danville is a cast member of local film “Birth of a Legend: The Story of the WAWA.”
Courtesy photo
Jay Burton of Danville is a cast member of local film “Birth of a Legend: The Story of the WAWA.”

‘Sweet Tee, Ala.,’ is setting for local Southern comedy

By Danielle Komis · 340-2447

“Birth of a Legend: The Story of the WAWA” hasn’t hit film festivals yet, but when it does, viewers may wake up in night sweats with images of a vicious, man-eating sea serpent lurking in the Tennessee River.

But probably not.

The Southern comedy filmed in the Shoals area about a bunch of “good ol’ boys” dealing with a sea serpent in the fictional town of Sweet Tee, Ala., was sent to film festivals across the country last week.

The film, directed and produced by a Sheffield couple, features more than 60 speaking roles. A handful of those roles went to people from Morgan County, including David Beddingfield of Decatur, Jay Burton of Danville and Wendy Morgan of Decatur.

The experience was more than he had bargained for, Beddingfield said.

“I didn’t know I was actually going to have a death scene,” he said.

Initially, he was told he would probably play a librarian, he said. Then, when he showed up for filming, he was cast in a small speaking role as one of the many poor souls who became serpent bait.

“Suddenly I went from this very mellow part of a local librarian to being in the boat in the summer heat filming all day long,” he said, laughing. “I think we all got close to heat stroke a few times.”

While much of the movie was filmed last summer, filming wrapped in January. Now Steve Wiggins and wife Sheri, who directed and produced the film, are busy promoting it and waiting to see if it is accepted for film festivals.

The movie will likely get into more film festivals in the Southeast, Wiggins predicted.

“It’s one of those kind of deals where your movie has to fit the psyche of the people who program the film festivals,” he said.

“The ones from the South especially want to celebrate Southern culture.”

However, getting into a film festival would be a bonus.

Living his lifelong dream of creating a feature-length film and involving local people in the movie-making process, whether on or off camera, was his priority, he said.

Many local filmmakers hope the Shoals area will become a movie-making venue, which is only possible with a pool of experienced people in the area who know how to work with sound, lighting and bit acting, he said.

“I call it building an experienced infrastructure.”

And a large infrastructure they have built.

“We have gotten almost 100 people involved in making movies and that’s one of the real stories of this,” he said. “We’ve made this a community effort to make this movie.”

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