Augustans make holiday magic in feature films

Tito Perez had an unusual task for late spring in Augusta — find sweaters, hats, mittens and other winter-related garb.

As a key costumer for the BET+ film “Christmas Party Crashers,” Perez found what he needed at Kohl’s and at great discounts.

On Nov. 17, crew members for the film shot in Augusta in May and June, gathered at Le Chat Noir to view the movie on the same night it premiered on BET+.

Crew members from Christmas Party Crashers and friends gathered Nov. 17 at Le Chat Noir to watch the film which debuted on BET+ that night. The movie was filmed in Augusta. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

There were hors d’oeuvres and cocktails as well as the chance to reconnect, share photo opportunities and sign copies of the film’s poster.

Xaviera Gilmore, key hairstylist, said working on the film was like working with family. There was a great sense of unity among the cast and crew.

“It was exciting,” she said. “It was fun during the process.”

But it wasn’t without challenges.

Trying to make sure everyone still looked movie perfect despite Augusta’s sweltering summer heat was one of the main obstacles, according to Gilmore and Nikolette Amani, who worked in makeup.

The actors were up for the challenge, they said, and none of them complained.

“It was a good experience,” said Amani.

Produced by MarVista Entertainment, “Christmas Party Crashers” is the story of two grifters who meet after they both crash a millionaire’s Christmas party.

Sarah Childers, assistant film liaison for Film Augusta, said it was “so exciting for an Augusta-based crew to work in their hometown.”

For several years, Mark Crump, who now works for MarVista and is one of the film’s producers, has been a major force in getting local work for Augusta-based technical film crew. He’s worked on multiple projects such as “Agent Game” which featured Mel Gibson and “The Hill” starring Dennis Quaid.

“Christmas Party Crashers” is the first MarVista production to be shot in Augusta, but Crump said it probably won’t be the last.

Not only does Augusta have a pool of skilled film workers already living and working in the Garden City, there’s a training program available as well. The Georgia Film Academy, in conjunction with Augusta Technical College, Augusta University and IndieGrip, has a curriculum designed to equip students with skills for film work. The most recent class began in August.

“Christmas Party Crashers” crew members haven’t been the only ones to celebrate the release of holiday films in recent weeks.

Augusta native Karlton Clay, who has been making feature films and web-based series for two decades, had his first-ever red carpet premier last month for his 10th full-length feature “For the Love of Christmas.”

Ron Robinson and Charmeka Robinson on the red carpet for “For The Love of Christmas” on Oct. 27. Photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

Clay said he was prompted to do the event by one of its actors, Charmeka Robinson, who plays Aretha.

“Charmeka said ‘you should do a premiere — a celebration for all you’ve done,” said Clay at the Oct. 27 event at Riverwatch Cinemas.

Robinson likened Clay to filmmaker Tyler Perry.

“I want to celebrate him,” she said.

“For the Love of Christmas” was released on Nov. 1 and is available on several streaming platforms including Amazon Prime and Vudu Fandango. It joins his other holiday films “Reindeer Games” and “A Very Merry New Year.”

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at