County Courthouse used as movie set for film on home schooling

Friday, July 24, 2009

Marshall County's Circuit Courtroom is to be used as a movie set this weekend, just as it was on two previous weekends for a film about home schooling.

The fictional story is more than a courtroom drama, according to Star Breeder Studios President Don Jarman of Franklin where other scenes were set for shooting this month.

At least two Marshall County residents have parts in the movie that's based on the premise that the state of Georgia decided to outlaw home schooling. Marshall County Sheriff's Detective Capt. Norman Dalton plays a truant officer. His character must arrest parents who decided to test a new law by continuing to educate their children at home.

Dalton also provided advice about courtroom procedures, Jarman said.

The detective captain's participation in the film developed from one of his duties as a law enforcement officer, he and the movie studio president explained.

"I went up to Williamson County for a witness and he happens to live with the sister of the owner of the studio," Dalton said. "The sister answered the door and I explained to her about the witness in a case and that I was there to interview him... and they asked if I would do this part for them and I agreed."

Jarman says Dalton "is a natural. He plays himself. He makes it hard on the rest of us."

Katie Turner of Marshall County plays a juror in the trial scenes, Jarman said.

Extras are welcome, but the opportunity to appear in a movie is an unpaid activity. Extras are asked to sign a waiver.

Three church groups have provided extras. One is from Marshall County. The others are from Williamson County.

More than a couple dozen people have gone to the courthouse to be extras, Dalton said.

The studio owner and his immediate relatives are members of the Tennessee Home School Association and while Jarman is clear about his story being fictional, he says lawmakers in California contemplated enacting a law against home schooling, and there is such a law in Germany.

Use of the courthouse here was authorized by county officials after the proposal was presented to the county commission. Circuit Court Clerk Elinor Brandon Foster reported the studio's request to the appropriate committee, which supported the idea, but when it was considered by the commission, an insurance issue seemed to stall approval. A few days later, County Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett and County Attorney Ginger Shofner finalized the paperwork to assure the county would be without liability.

And the show goes on.