Hollywood meets Cobb
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
January 02, 2010 01:00 AM | 4072 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
‘Broken Hill’ recently won Best Feature at the TriMedia Film Fest in Fort Collins, Co. From left are Sean Covel, executive producer; star Alexa Vega; Dagen Merrill, writer and director; and Chris Wyatt, producer. Wyatt is a 1993 graduate of the Walker School.
‘Broken Hill’ recently won Best Feature at the TriMedia Film Fest in Fort Collins, Co. From left are Sean Covel, executive producer; star Alexa Vega; Dagen Merrill, writer and director; and Chris Wyatt, producer. Wyatt is a 1993 graduate of the Walker School.
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MARIETTA - Filmmaker and Walker School alumnus Chris Wyatt will return home to Cobb on Wednesday for the release of his newest movie, "Broken Hill," which premieres at 7:30 p.m. at the Regal Town Center Stadium-16 Theater in Kennesaw.

Wyatt is a Hollywood producer who has produced several films, including the smash hit "Napoleon Dynamite," since graduating from Walker in 1993. Proceeds from the premiere will go to the Walker School Annual Fund. Tickets are $5 each and can be reserved at walkeralumni.org/brokenhill.

Wyatt, actress Alexa Vega - best known for her role in the "Spy Kids" trilogy - and executive producer Sean Covel will visit the Walker School on Wednesday. They will speak to an upper school assembly in the morning and spend the remainder of the day working with students in drama and film/video classes.

"Broken Hill" is a musical drama that tells the story of a teenager from the Australian Outback who is torn between following his passion for music, which was instilled by his mother, and his father's desire for him to stay on the family's sheep farm. After landing in jail alongside his high school crush, the teen is given an opportunity to organize prisoners in a band competition.

Actor Luke Arnold and Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton star alongside Vega in the feature film. The film is rated PG.

"'Broken Hill' is about following your dream, taking risks and believing in yourself," said Wyatt, 33, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Laura, and their 2-year-old son, Liam.

Wyatt said the story was written by his friend Dagen Merrill, the film's director, and is based on Merrill's experiences while directing a choir in college. Since its September premiere, it has been screened at festivals around the world and won the best film in its category at the 2009 Giffoni Film Festival in Italy, he said.

Becoming a film producer is a dream come true for Wyatt. He first caught the acting bug as a kindergarten student.

"When I was in kindergarten at the Walker School I was chosen by Mrs. Herman to play Winnie the Pooh in our class play," he recalled. "I've been interested entertaining audiences through storytelling ever since."

In 2004, Wyatt was nominated for best producer at the Indie Spirit Awards. He has produced a total of six films. He said he's currently in post-production on a film called "Cafe," starring Jennifer Love Hewitt from "Ghost Whisperer" and Daniel Eric Gold from the "Ugly Betty" TV show. He said the most surprising thing about the film industry is how long it takes to make and distribute each movie.

After high school, Wyatt earned a bachelor's degree in film studies from Brigham Young University. He also has a Master of Fine Arts in motion picture producing from the University of Southern California. However, he said it was at Walker that he learned the value of the arts.

"Walker was a comfortable and supportive environment that encouraged initiative and self-expression," Wyatt said.

Walker headmaster Don Robertson said the entire school looks forward to viewing the film one of its 1,600 alumni has made.

"I appreciate that he extended the offer to bring the movie to our area so that we may enjoy his work and support the school at the same time," Robertson said. "Chris' creative talent was obvious during his time as a student here and I know that our students will learn a great deal from him during his visit on campus."

The idea to coincide the film's metro Atlanta premiere with a fundraiser was Wyatt's idea, said Kaleb McMichen, Walker's alumni relations director. He said the school's annual fund is its primary fundraiser.

"Every dollar contributed to the annual fund goes to support Walker's mission of providing a college-preparatory education that is second to none," McMichen said. "As such, this effort, like all other annual fund donations, is vital to Walker's continued success."
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