Writing, directing and filming an award-winning rock 'n' roll suspense drama so close to home was a heavenly task for Beaufort's Michael Givens.
"Making this movie was the happiest time of my life," Givens said.
This movie is "Angel Camouflaged" -- a rock 'n' roll suspense drama filmed on Folly Beach, less than two hours from his Beaufort home. It was a welcome change of pace for Givens, whose career frequently takes him around the world.
The film is planned to be released this fall and stars Dilana Robichaux, best known for her appearance on the CBS reality competition, "Rockstar Supernova." The cast includes James Brolin, Warrick Grier ("The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior"), Carlos Bernard ("24") and Terry Serpico ("Army Wives").
Music is an integral part of "Angel." Robichaux's character, Scottie Ballantyne, is a retired singer who is looking to hire some entertainment to reopen and save the rundown bar she and her brother inherited. The film includes musical performances by the Marshal Tucker Band, Kurtis Blow, Patty Smyth and John Morgan, as well as seven original songs composed and performed by Robichaux specifically for this movie.
When approached by a screenwriter acquaintance about shooting "Angel Camouflaged," Givens insisted on rewriting the script around Robichaux as the lead.
"Dilana has this Janis Joplin kind of voice, and she has a real presence," Givens said of the guitar-playing singer who sports tattoos, facial piercings and multi-colored dreadlocks.
Another of Givens' touches to the film was giving cameos to his teenagers, Chandler and Olivia. The scene in which they ask permission to go shrimping adds an authentic Southern touch to the movie. Givens, 52, is known around Beaufort as a photographer with a Southern gentleman's persona. He's also a big Civil War buff. Nationwide, he serves as the commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Army of Northern Virginia.
"Angel" was recently nominated for eight American International Film Festival awards (including Best New Filmmaker for Givens) and received six, among them Best Actress (Robichaux) and Best Music in Film. It also received four Action on Film awards.
Givens said his brother joked with him about being nominated Best New Filmmaker after 21 years in the business. A graduate of Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, Calif., Givens' 35 feature film credits include directing and photographing the second unit for the 2000 all-girl bar romp, "Coyote Ugly." He was the cinematographer on "The Celestine Prophecy" (2006), based on the best-selling book by James Redfield.
"To see words I put on paper come to life (in 'Angel') was so exciting," Givens said.