- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - The citizens of Savannah are no strangers to movie cameras. From the famed “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” to the more recent Miley Cyrus flick, “The Last Song,” Savannah has put its stamp on Hollywood in one way or another.

Now the city can add a new film to its growing résumé.

“Sinking Sand,” produced by locals from Savannah and Georgia, is a suspense thriller set against the backdrop of Savannah. Recently, the cast and crew spent some time filming in downtown Savannah and on Tybee Island before heading to Atlanta.

Writer and director Brian Yarbrough said there were two reasons for setting “Sinking Sand” in Savannah: practical story purposes and the city’s beauty.

“Savannah is really pretty,” he said. “It’s very tantalizing to the eye.”

Star Jenn Gotzon said she sees the city as its own character within the film.

“The depth of consequence in the characters is reflected in the depth of history seen in Savannah,” she said. “The feel and tonality here is something you don’t see in any other city.”

The film stars Gotzon as Brooke McHenry, a woman who feels she is “no longer a priority” after her lawyer husband decides to run for Senate. Enter Tyler Griffin, the mysterious man from her past who sweeps her off her feet. But he has a sinister motive for seeking Brooke out, one that devolves into a web of murder and courtroom drama that will test Brooke’s faith.

“It reminds me a lot of a John Grisham novel,” Gotzon said. “It’s a plot-rich story that deals with things that humans struggle with every day.”

To access her complicated character, Gotzon said she uses her imagination to “fully absorb the world of the script and the character.” She said although some actors like to work from their own experiences, she likes to keep her on-screen and off-screen lives separate.

“We did a scene the other day where I ended up working from a personal moment and it wrecked me,” she said. “(Each actor is) like a painter with a canvas. Each painter is going to use a different color or a different kind of stroke.”

Gotzon’s co-star Jim Chandler, who plays Tyler, prefers a very different color and stroke. He said he likes to find a bit of his characters in himself in order to connect with them.

“I have to have an element of me in there or else it feels fake,” he said.

The variety in acting styles matches the diverse backgrounds of the cast.

Gotzon has starred in a number of faith-based films, including the recently released “Doonby,” and was also a part of the filmic first family in Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon,” where she played the president’s daughter, Tricia Nixon.

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