When “Shadow Games” screens at the Byrd Theatre next week it will be the debut for 24-year-old Richmond filmmaker Jim Ed Wills. It will also be the culmination of a decade of work — he started on the movie when he was 14.
Wills says he and childhood friends first developed the basics of “Shadow Games,” an action drama about FBI agents (Jake Thomas and Tommy Gilsdorf) tracking down a notorious terrorist (Troy Herndon), when they were kids, toying around with writing scripts and making short movies. At 19, Wills got serious writing the screenplay and began working with a close circle of college buddies and family members, who served double and triple duty as cast members, co-producers and technicians.
Shooting on a high-definition digital movie camera finished in January 2008, and then post-production took another year and a half and counting. Viewers can check his Web site shadowgamesmovie.com for updates on how close to complete each production task has come. Jazz trombonist Alex Powers, a fellow Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus, wrote the score.
Wills plans on a full red-carpet entrance for his cast, but the launch will also be a farewell. He leaves for film school at Florida State University two days after the premiere along with his younger brother, Rich, who also worked on the film.
As far as the future of “Shadow Games,” Wills would like rental stores to carry copies, but that's it. After about a decade working on it, he says he's done: “As far as I'm concerned, I've been working on it for so long I'm ready for it to be complete.” S
Shadow Games premieres at the Byrd Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 8, at 1 p.m. $5.