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Effingham man inks deal with Disney/Pixar
Mars Theater will host a premiere next summer
Live action Woody
Michael Wilson plays Woody in the live-action “To Infinity”, filming in parts of Effingham County. (Submitted photo.)

By Rick Lott, for the Effingham Herald

Inspired by the 1995 Disney/Pixar movie, Toy Story, 31-year-old Dylan Odom is set to begin filming an original screenplay called, To Infinity, this summer and will release a teaser for the film in early May. The script, written by Odom, has already been approved by Disney/Pixar.

The 90-minute film will feature Michael Wilson as Woody the Sheriff, John Charles Morris as Andy (he was Andy’s voice in the original film), and Richard Karn who played sidekick to Tim Allen in TV’s “Home Improvement”. A big difference in this production is that it will be a live-action film and not a computer-generated movie.

Odom along with friend and cameraman, Malachi Mohammed, will start feature production in Wichita, Kansas, in late summer with a projected release in the summer of 2025, and a premier at the historic Mars Theatre in Springfield. He also credits friends, Cyndi and Joe Stancil with graciously providing support for the project. He thinks of them as a second mom and dad.

Odom has a Fair Use Agreement with Disney/Pixar which stipulates Odom’s company is producing this film and not Disney/Pixar. Odom said that from the beginning, he wanted this to be his ‘legacy’ project saying, “The thought of my daughter, long after I’m gone, maybe with her kids or her husband, sitting there and being like, ‘Wow, my Dad did all of this just for me’, is kind of the reason I wouldn’t want anyone else making this.” He added that the thought of having the biggest entertainment company in the world behind his project and giving him their vote of confidence was a huge thing for him. He said, “The whole thing has been almost like a dream.”

One major stipulation with Disney/Pixar was that this production had to be a non-commercial film – not for profit. That led to setting up a deal with AMC Theatres to show the film in only 98 theatres, a soft release. The 99th theatre will be the Mars Theater in Springfield. The showings of To Infinity will be free of charge to patrons.

Dylan Odom
Dylan Odom explains his passion for creating the film. (Photo by Rick Lott/Effingham Herald.)
Odom said releasing a film this way has not been done before.

For Odom, the filming and hosting a premiere at the historic Mars Theater is a homecoming. Odom was born in Savannah, grew up in Guyton, and graduated from Effingham County High School in 2011.

His group is currently raising funds so that movie-goers can enjoy free concessions during the launch. He sold Disney/Pixar on his idea of presenting his movie to the public without cost saying, “Going out to see a movie, let alone taking your family has unfortunately become a luxury, and probably prevents a large amount of those families to stay home or wait for it to stream. This combines a solution to that with something that began as something I just wanted to give to my daughter, Jacey.

Filming for the teaser was done locally at the Effingham Living History Museum and in Senoia, northwest of Macon, best known for the “Walking Dead” series. When the teaser comes out, look for scenes showing Woody putting on his cowboy garb, as that was shot in Springfield.

Odom said the movie starts out in present day with flashbacks which explain why Andy has such love for Woody. In the film, Woody is a retired sheriff who is swept up with disappearances that ravage his town but says it’s really a film for everyone. It’s going to be a live action sci-fi western and murder-mystery movie with original music. One of the songs was written by Randy Newman, who wrote and sang all the original music in the Toy Story movies.

Odom said, “I’m proud of what we’re doing and I’m hoping that the community has the same sentiment.” The teaser film will be shown on Facebook at ‘To Infinity’; @toinfinityfilm on Instagram; and @toinfinityfilmofficial on TikTok and YouTube.

The teaser for the film will launch May 24 on Odom added that all contributors to the fundraiser will see their name as a thank you in the end credits There will also be Tier-levels for contributors to receive exclusive merchandise, screen-used props, and wardrobe and a VIP Experience where they will be able to sit with the cast during the premiere.