A local film production company will receive a national release to over 50 theaters, including a weeklong release in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga's Mama Bear Studios produced the film "Hunter Gatherer." The film stars Andrew Royo (of "The Wire" and "Empire") and follows the story of a man's journey to regain his footing after a three-year stint in prison.
In November, distribution rights for the film were acquired by The Orchard. Locals will be able to view the film beginning Friday through Jan. 19 at the Carmike East Ridge.
The film was written and directed by Josh Locy, and produced by Sara Murphy, April Lamb, Isaiah Smallman and Michael Covino. It was executive produced by Mama Bear Studios and Unbundled Underground, in association with Rough House Pictures.
Smallman, CEO of Mama Bear Studios in Chattanooga, said the entire process of making and releasing "Hunter Gatherer" has been a whirlwind.
"It's fun to play the film for audiences all over the country, but the thought of showing it to our people is much more exciting," he said. "Now there's finally an opportunity for local audiences to see it on the big screen—which is always the best way to see a movie."
The film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in the spring. Various national outlets have reviewed the film, including The New York Times and L.A. Times, who called the film a "warmly eccentric little indie that's amusing, authentic and works against expectation."
"Considering this is the first film we produced from start to finish, it's a massive win for Mama Bear," Smallman said. "Carmike actually booked the film the same way they would if it was 'The Avengers.'"
"Hunter Gatherer" will also be released digitally on iTunes and other platforms beginning Feb. 7.
Mama Bear Studios is working on multiple other projects, Smallman said. Those include early stage scripts, two new films in post-production, a comedy TV pilot, two thriller features, two romantic comedies, two midbudget action comedies and various other projects that are still being written.
"Beyond all of that, we're just super-excited about the possibility of helping to build the independent film scene in Chattanooga," Smallman said. "Cine-Rama and Chattanooga Film Festival are doing an amazing job of creating a place for independent films to be screened. But we are hoping in the next few years to make Chattanooga a destination for super-successful writers, directors and producers as well."
Mama Bear Studios was founded by Smallman and his business partner, Drew Belz.