This wasn't a small production. It was a big production.Beverly Poole
SPRINGFIELD — A soon-to-be released Sobini Films movie is almost guaranteed to be a big hit in Effingham County. The Effingham Museum and Living History Site plays a starring role in "Emperor," a Civil War-era historical heroic drama about Shields Green. Four scenes were shot on the living history site, which houses several original and replica buildings appropriate for the period. "This wasn't any small production. It was a big production," said Beverly Poole, a longtime museum associate. "We had covered wagons here, a lady got shot here. They did all kind of stuff here." "Emperor" features an impressive cast, including Dayo Okeniyi, known for playing "Thresh" in "The Hunger Games" and "Danny Dyson" in "Terminator Genisys," in the starring role. He will portray Green, a slave who made a daring northward journey after escaping from a plantation to meet abolitionists Frederick Douglass and John Brown in 1859. “This is a story about the triumph of the spirit, about a man who was known as ‘Emperor’ in spite of the terrible circumstances he was born into," director and co-writer Mark Amin said. "Dayo has the presence and force of personality to capture Shields’ incredible spirit." The film also includes Oscar nominees James Crowell and Bruce Dern, who portray Brown and Levi Coffin, respectively, two heroes of the American abolitionist movement. Cromwell can currently be seen in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom." Naturi Naughton, Harry Lennix, Kat Graham, Ben Robson and Keean Johnson are on board, too. Poole was instrumental in landing the movie gig for the living history site. She worked with Earl Rogers, an Atlanta-based location manager for this Freedom Run Films LLC production. Rogers' job is to find locations to match scenes written in scripts. "I got to talking with them and what we have up here," Poole said. “They liked what we had and it was exactly what they wanted for filming." See the Aug. 8 edition of the Effingham Herald for more details.