Movie producer from Geneva shines light on homelessness, mental illness
Geneva native Doug Shaffer is happy that a movie he produced starring Anna Camp and Rob Mayes is helping shed a light on such important issues as mental illness and homelessness.
Shaffer, a 1991 Geneva High School graduate, produced the recently released feature film "5000 Blankets" for Sony Pictures. The movie tells the true story of Cyndi Bunch (Camp), who sets out to find her husband, Bobby (Mayes), after he's had a mental breakdown and gone missing. She and son, Phillip, (Carson Minniear) are alarmed to see how many homeless people there are.
"He had a schizophrenic breakdown, left the family and became homeless," Shaffer said. "He was on the streets of Dallas. Essentially, she and her son had to start over. In the process of searching for him, she started to connect with the local homeless people."
Bunch and her son founded Phillip's Wish, a nonprofit that helps the homeless by providing blankets and other basic necessities.
The movie, which opened in theaters nationwide last month, is now streaming on PureFlix.com.
"5000 Blankets" is nominated for a Movieguide Award as a family-friendly and spiritually uplifting movie. Winners will be announced on Feb. 10.
"All of the actors were great," Shaffer said. "Anna Camp was awesome. She was a trouper. She was really good. We had 17 days to shoot, and she was in almost every single scene. She had some long days and she just rocked it."
He was also impressed by Minniear's performance.
"He in a lot of ways kind of carries the emotional weight of the movie and he was just fantastic," Shaffer said.
Shaffer knew he wanted to be part of the project.
"I love the message, I love the message of purpose," Shaffer said. "But I also wanted to do a movie that took kind of a realistic viewpoint of the homelessness and mental illness issues and how they affect families."
Shaffer owns Caspian Productions LLC. He has been involved in several film productions over the years, including the movie "Being Charlie," which was directed by Rob Reiner.
He hopes that people have a better understanding of the homeless crisis and mental illness after seeing the movie.
"And just to have more compassion for fellow humans and understand that one person can make a difference," Shaffer said. "Hopefully people will be motivated after this to really try and get involved in their communities to help the local homeless population but also get more educated regarding mental illness."