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Locally made film 'Home for Thanksgiving' conjures hope after loss

A family gathers around a table, dressed for Thanksgiving
Courtesy of Stefanie Davis
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Movie poster for Home for Thanksgiving

A woman-owned production company, Bouncy Boxer Media, brings its new movie, which was filmed in Tampa and Lakeland, to the big screen later this month.

Stefanie Davis named her production company “Bouncy Boxer Media” after her bubbly dog, Bridget.

Davis has been making movies in the Tampa Bay area for about 10 years now.
Her third feature-length film, "Home for Thanksgiving," will be shown at Tampa Theatre on November 30th, part of Film Tampa Bay’s efforts to support locally-produced films.

So, what’s it like to make movies in the Tampa Bay region?

11-21 Home for Thanksgiving
Courtesy of Stefanie Davis
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Director/Screenwriter Stefanie Davis

“It’s really fun," said Davis. "Because we have such a lovely tight-knit community here of filmmakers. And the locations that we have in Tampa are just absolutely gorgeous.

"I mean, my favorite part about filmmaking is whenever you drive and you see like a park or a beach and you're just like, ‘Ooh, I could really imagine a scene there.’ And like the Tampa, St. Pete Clearwater, Lakeland area, there's just so many places that can kind of spark your creativity.”

And she praised the community of actors and other filmmakers.

Home for Thanksgiving, she said, is the story of a grandmother who is trying to maintain normalcy at Thanksgiving after the death of her husband.

“And with all families and holidays, things kind of, you know, go a little up and down and awry. But there's a lot of secrets and lies and ultimately, a food fight,” she said.

Davis said she immediately knew she wanted actor Sally Glaner to play the lead.

“She's got such a sweet face. She's very talented. And I was like, what if we take this from the perspective of a senior woman, follow her throughout the story, and really get to know what the new head of the family is now dealing with, with all these little things that keep just, jumping at her,” Davis said.

Although she puts the words down in the screenplay, Davis said she relies on improvisation during the film shoot.

“And so, a lot of the times, I always tell everybody, you know, none of this is set in stone, on the day if you're feeling this sentence, but you're like, ‘Oh, I could go a little bit more with this and really, like, punch it up. Let's go for it. Let's do it.’ And let's see how that turns out,” she said.

Davis said she primarily funds her productions by taking on other work.

Film Tampa Bay Commissioner Tyler Martinolich said incentives are offered to filmmakers in certain counties in Florida, including Hillsborough and Pinellas. And he said, it’s a mistake for people who don’t know this part of Florida to assume the entire state looks like Miami Beach.

“Tampa Bay specifically, is very diverse in our typography. So, if you were to drop a pin, right at the International Airport and draw 60-mile radius around it, think of all the variants and locations, you could find everything from some of the best beaches in the world over in Clearwater to two very distinct metro areas between St. Pete and Tampa. And then if you go a little further, we have some of the richest agricultural areas in the States, all within a 30-minute drive of one of the best international airports in the country,” he said.

Film Tampa Bay will present "Home for Thanksgiving" at the Tampa Theatre on November 30th for a free screening, but you must RSVP here. Attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable food to donate to Feeding Tampa Bay. And there will be a Q &A following the screening, which Martinolich will moderate.

I love telling stories about my home state. And I hope they will help you in some way and maybe even lift your spirits.
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