Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Script Becomes a British Film

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Script Becomes a British Film

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, The Times-Union

Atlantic Beach screenwriter Sharon Cobb's North Florida story went through change after change after she finished the first draft of the script in 1995.

But no change was as drastic as what happened after British director David Fairman fell in love with her story. He bought the rights to the script, vowing to turn it into a film. Because of financing issues, he had to make it in England.

And so Jacksonville became London. And the story's central location of Waldo -- that modest town outside Gainesville best known, perhaps, for its flea market and its speed traps -- became a tiny hamlet in the English countryside.

And thus Cobb's Southern-fried comedy/drama, The Sage of Waldo, became Lighthouse Hill, replete with English slang and small talk over pints of ale. Cobb was happy to make the changes herself, with advice from the family of her born-in-England, raised-in-New-Zealand husband, Robert Ward.

Lighthouse Hill had a premiere in England, but never got wide distribution, instead making the rounds to several film festivals (including Jacksonville in 2003).

But now it's been seen by thousands of people around the world, thanks to a new DVD distribution company that also became enchanted with her story.

The Spiritual Cinema Circle was founded this year to provide subscribers with movies that are "uplifting and inspiring," though not necessarily religious, says co-founder Gay Hendricks, who began the service with his wife, Kathlyn.

Think Whale Rider, for example, or What Dreams May Come or Field of Dreams.

"There are a tremendous number of people disenchanted with Hollywood movies," said Hendricks, who grew up in Leesburg, outside Orlando, but now lives in Ojai, Calif. "They've given up going to the movies because of the trash that's out there."

For $24 a month, subscribers to Spiritual Cinema Circle ( get three to five features, shorts and documentaries on DVD in the mail. They are theirs to keep.

Since beginning in March, the company now claims more than 9,000 members in more than 50 countries.

"Our movies aren't just Valentine card movies, not Hallmark movies, not sweet honey movies," said Hendricks. …

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