Back when Zach Throne was a student at Oxford High School, he was no stranger to the spotlight.
He had leading roles in the school’s productions of “Dracula,” “The 39 Steps” and “A Christmas Story.”
These days, Throne is looking to break into the film business, albeit in a behind-the-scenes role.
He’s the cofounder and financial director of Just A Skosh Productions (JASP), a film company established last year and based in Columbus, Ohio.
JASP’s vision is to become an industry leader for the entertainment business in the Midwest by creating thought-provoking, engaging and enjoyable films for all ages and supporting Midwest talent.
The company recently launched a crowdfunding campaign, via the website www.Indiegogo.com, to help finance its feature film debut entitled, “Cadia.”
“This is our first big hurrah,” said Throne, a 2012 OHS graduate.
The film is about three 14-year-olds – Matthew, David and Renee Addams – who, after losing their mother, get transported to a mystical realm called Cadia, where they get caught up in the battle between good and evil, represented by the characters Shiloh and Tanion, each of whom leads an army of followers.
“They have to figure out who they are, what they believe in and what they’re going to stand for,” Throne said. “It’s very much a coming of age story.”
The film explores the concepts of grace, love and doubt. It also looks at how folks interact with the world around them and the need for people to believe in each other.
“It’s going to make the audience think,” said Throne, who’s been living in Columbus for about two-and-a-half years.
“Cadia” has a “very philosophical story line” that “relies heavily on Christian allegory and religious allegory,” but it’s not preachy or trying to convert anyone, according to Throne. It’s about having an open and honest dialogue.
“So much of the conversation about philosophy and religion and ideas is so divisive that we can’t even come to the table and talk. Immediately, people break away,” Throne explained. “Our hope for this film is that we can have these conversations. We can have heartfelt, meaningful discussions about ideas, about philosophy, about religion and you want to know what? It’s okay to disagree. I recognize your doubts and I recognize your views and that’s okay.”
To Throne, society is, in many ways, more polarized now than it’s ever been, so he sees “Cadia” as providing a unifying, uplifting message that’s desperately needed.
“Our hope is that this film (gives) hope to people and . . . brings people back together,” he said. “That’s why it’s (a story) worth telling,”
“There’s not a lot of . . . films being produced right now that have a hopeful and positive message (for) society,” Throne noted. “I think we should have more of that.”
The script was written by JASP co-founder Cedric Gegel, who will also be directing the film. Throne said they hope to turn the 88-page script into about 90 minutes of cinematic gold.
More than 70 percent of the cast and crew are Ohio residents. They hope to shoot the movie over a 10-to-15-day period this summer.
“We’re just going to pound it out,” said Throne, who will play a supporting role in the film, a character named Mike who’s on Shiloh’s side. Throne has previously appeared in a music video and a short film.
The goal is to have a theatrical release at the tail end of this year. Throne is “hoping and pushing for a Midwest release” that primarily encompasses theaters in Ohio, but includes some in Michigan as well. There’s also the possibility of reaching out to theaters in Pittsburgh and Kentucky.
The overall budget for the film is $40,000 and Throne said JASP is currently in talks to get 75 percent of this from a mix of local sponsors and investors.
The company is relying on the crowdfunding campaign to provide the remaining $10,000.
Given the film’s timeless theme of good versus evil, Throne said they’re open to receiving sponsorships from churches as well.
Because JASP is working with From the Heart Productions, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that’s been helping independent filmmakers get their projects funded since 1993, any contributions to the campaign are tax-deductible. The money sent to Indiegogo goes to From the Heart Productions, which then gives it to JASP.
Throne is encouraging people to donate because he believes the arts are “vital to society.”
In his view, art has “the ability to bring people from all different walks of life together” to “experience something and to learn something” and “hopefully . . . grow from it.”
Throne believes things are about to heat up for the entertainment industry in Ohio.
For example, there’s a new bill before the state General Assembly that, if approved, would increase the Motion Picture Tax Credit from the current $40 million per year to $100 million annually and make some Broadway shows eligible for it as well.
“We feel . . . we’re kind of on the edge of the wave, and if we catch it just right, we can really be a part of something big here,” he said.