Producer relays plot of film to Rotary

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 15, 2006

Award-winning indie film director John Sayles and his producer (and wife of 33 years), Maggie Renzi, have introduced moviegoers to out-of-the-way places and times long past in productions such as &uot;Lone Star,&uot; &uot;The Secret to Roan Inish,&uot; &uot;Passionfish,&uot; and &uot;Eight Men Out.&uot;

They will be doing both when they begin production on their latest film project, &uot;Honeydripper,&uot; in Butler County later this summer.

Renzi, who has also acted in some of her husband’s films, was on hand at the Greenville Rotary Club’s Thursday meeting at the Boys and Girls Club.

The diverse places Sayles and Renzi have traveled to shoot films include Harlem, N.Y., West Virginia, Juneau, Alaska, southwest Lousiana, Donegal, Ireland, Florida, Texas and Mexico.

&uot;We go to places that speak of our subjects. We will never go to Toronto to shoot a movie set in Alabama,&uot; Renzi said.

Because they are independent filmmakers, the duo retains creative control over their work, something sorely lacking in many big-budget studio films, the producer said.

&uot;As sole producer, my job is to raise money and make sure the director’s vision is supported and defended…I consider myself very creative but I don’t have the vision the writer-director does.&uot;

A native of Williamstown, Mass., Renzi said she and her siblings were raised &uot;to think about other people before we think of ourselves.&uot;

The producer admitted sometimes wondering if she was doing that – helping people – through her work in films.

&uot;I think the service we do (through our films) is show people a world that they might not be able to visit, whether it’s in a different time or it’s off the beaten path.&uot;

In the case of &uot;Honeydripper,&uot; set in 1951 in rural south Alabama, Renzi said audiences will be treated to a tuneful and uplifting story of a middle-aged man, Tyrone, played by Danny Glover, who is at a crossroads in his life.

&uot;Tyrone is a blues piano player who loves his blues club (Honeydripper), his stepdaughter…but he’s not happy. Everyone is going to his competition, The Ace of Spades.&uot;

&uot;This is a story that should have people standing up and cheering at the end,&uot; Renzi said.

Six weeks of pre-production work is slated to begin in August, with filming beginning in late September and running through late November.