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Making A Movie in the THC

Rising filmmaker, CJ Goodwyn, has brought his latest project to The Texas Hill Country.

CJ grew up in Kerrville, and is leading more than 220 Texas volunteers, including locals, to create a historical drama set in the Roman Empire.

CJ Goodwyn, who went to elementary, middle and high school in Kerrville, and played soccer for Tivy and Schreiner University, always dreamed of being a filmmaker, and he especially wanted to set a movie during one of his favorite time periods: Imperial Rome. And now with three movies under his belt, the last of which was released on Amazon Prime, he’s in the midst of his new project, which is being shot in Comfort on private land.

“Our land, especially in the Hill Country, is very similar to what it was like out there during the Roman Era,” Goodwyn said. “Eyes of a Roman,” slated for release next year — possibly with a showing in Kerrville — is intended as an echo of the current day, he indicated. During a time when political and social issues are stressing — if not outright tearing — the bonds of family, friendship and society, Goodwyn wanted to show how one soldier in the Roman Army stands up for what he believes is right despite severe consequences. Goodwyn declined to say what this particular choice is — he didn’t want to give any spoilers.

“I think everyone, or most people in this world, are good, but when you have a super-difficult decision to make in front of you, and it would have major consequences to maybe the people you love, or your job, you might stand on that bandwagon because you’re afraid of doing what’s right,” Goodwyn said. “I feel like that is the world we live in on a daily basis for a lot of us. A lot of people get stuck because they’re afraid. They're afraid not to have an income, they’re afraid of what their peers or their friends might think of them. Of course, social media is all about that, right?”

Goodwyn is the director and writer on the nonbudget project, and he’s also playing the lead role: a Roman soldier named Atticuss who faces this kind choice one day in 71 B.C., before the final battle between the army of Spartacus and Marcus Crassus. The soldier’s comrade, Tarriuss, is played by Goodwyn’s real-life friend, Derek Meier, of Kerrville, whose family owns the approximately 1,600 acres of land where the film is being shot. Les Best plays Marcus Crassus and Elliott Baker, of Waco, portrays Sparticus. Ella Morrow, of Fort Worth, plays Alieana.

Goodwyn was able to find actors willing to work for free from Kerrville, Comfort, Ingram, elsewhere from the Hill Country and Texas, he said.

“To me, that’s pretty special, when you get all these individuals from Texas making this project,” Goodwyn said. “That’s pretty cool. Not to mention, we’re in the middle of a pandemic making a film and had a second blizzard of Texas that we had to fight through, which delayed some of our filming. It just shows the heart and passion of Texans, basically where we won’t be denied, and we just keep going.”

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