Film People

Augusta filmmaker brings longtime dream to the screen

(Featured photo is a still of Choice Skinner on the set of “A New Life”)

A project Choice Skinner had put on hold for two decades made it to the screen in August.

“It’s my love letter to the Black community and to Black men,” said Skinner of comedy-drama film, A New Life.

Skinner, who returned to Augusta during the pandemic after spending 23 years in Los Angeles, penned the screenplay about a Black father who is reluctant to get back into the dating scene after the death of his wife. The film highlights the main character as a loving family man.

“There wasn’t anything like it,” he said. “You don’t get much media about Black men being great fathers and seeing them loving their kids and finding a way to overcome loss.”

But at the time, Skinner couldn’t find the funding to get the project off the ground, so he shelved it, continuing to work in the film industry and honing other skills.

Choice Skinner was born in New York, but moved to Augusta after high school. He lived in Los Angeles for 23 years before returning to Augusta.

Skinner started in the music industry, but he branched out after leaving the artist he was working with. He’s a trained martial artist and has worked as a stuntman, but to further his career he had to polish his acting skills.

“Art Camacho (a film director and stuntman) said that I was a great martial artist and could be a Black Bruce lee, but ‘you suck at acting,’” said Skinner, who in 2022 was inducted into the Ultimate Warriors Hall of Fame, an organization under Ron van Clief, known as The Black Dragon.

Camacho’s advice sent Skinner to acting school.

“I studied under Bobby Chance for six years, booking television and feature films,” he said. “I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

He appeared in television shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Reno 911! and The Shield.  He’s also directed and produced short and feature length films including Black Lightning: Tobias’ Revenge about a Black superhero.

 When he moved back to Augusta, the movie industry was changing. Atlanta has become a mecca for film and television, and technology has rapidly changed.

No longer did Skinner have to be in Los Angeles and utilize large crews with a hefty budget to make a film.

Also, since moving back to Augusta, Skinner started teaching acting classes. He had a pool of talent available and knew what they were capable of, so he dusted off that script and did the lion’s share of the work.

“With New Life, I could do it all on my own,” he said. “I produced, directed and shot it. I know how to light and edit and frame a scene.”

A still from the film “A New Life.” Photo courtesy Choice Skinner

He found the right distribution company and the film is available on multiple streaming platforms including Amazon Prime and Vudu. It will move to additional platforms in the early part of 2024.

Skinner is working on a second film in Augusta called The Legend of Ciscero, which is a Southern Urban Gothic film that he calls a mix between Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.

It’s about a young man whose uncle uses him to evoke ancient spirits to get revenge.

And Skinner isn’t stopping there. He has plans for a blockbuster that includes the martial arts.

“I want to do a major-scale, feature-length martial arts film — one that stands the test of time like Enter the Dragon,” he said.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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