Local filmmakers to premiere movie at SXSW festival

Authored By seanphippster

Chattanooga-based Mama Bear Studios has been invited to premiere and compete at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in March.

The annual SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, is considered one of the biggest and most prestigious film festivals in the country, on par with Sundance. This year, SXSW is March 11-19. 

Mama Bear Studios-led by co-founders Drew Belz and Isaiah Smallman-helped finance and produce the film, called “Hunter Gatherer.” The film follows the journey of a man trying to regain his footing after three years in prison.

The film stars actor Andre Royo (of “The Wire” and “Empire”), and was written and directed by Josh Locy and shot in August in Los Angeles. The film is in the final stages of postproduction.

“We couldn’t be more excited about premiering one of our first films at such an amazing festival,” Smallman said in a news release. “It’s really a testament to the quality of the script and to the blood, sweat and tears poured into the project by Josh and our producing partners.”

A full synopsis from the film website:

Ashley Douglas thinks everything should fall into place when he’s released after three years in prison. His friends should come to his welcome home party. (They don’t.) His girlfriend, Linda, should greet him with open arms . (She doesn’t). So Ashley, a 40-something African-American, restarts his life with next to nothing: no friends, no lovers, no connections. [All] he has is a bedroom in his mom’s house, a box of treasures he buried in his backyard, and a nostalgic and deeply ingrained need to be with Linda-his one true love. That is, until he meets a new friend, Jeremy, and things start to turn around.

After starting the creative content company Fancy Rhino, Smallman and Belz announced the launch of Mama Bear Studios in August. The long-term plan for the studio is to “disrupt” the distribution space with a focus on creating a “slate of diverse projects” while increasing their profile in the international film community.

The Mama Bear team currently has five other projects in development, one of which-a short film written by Smallman-will debut at the Chattanooga Film Festival and Beverly Hills Film Festival.

The studio previously released “Low and Behold,” a partnership with the Sundance Institute’s #ArtistServices program. The film follows the story of a young insurance claims adjuster in post-Katrina New Orleans who risks his job to help a local man find his dog.

Smallman will receive a producer credit for the film, and Belz, along with Lamp Post Group founders Barry Large, Ted Alling and Allan Davis, will serve as executive producers. 

Disclaimer:‘s parent company is Lamp Post Group, which has a business relationship with Mama Bear Studios and Fancy Rhino. Editorial decisions for this publication are made independently of Lamp Post, Mama Bear Studios and Fancy Rhino.