Chris Flippo, Ben Greene and Geoff James graduated from Ridgeland High School in 2005, they didn’t yet know that, in a few years, their friendship would develop into a shared passion for filmmaking.
Though the three friends left Rossville and went on to various schools across the country, they always stayed in touch. Now, they’ve reunited to form their own production company, and are busily writing and producing their own short films.
Calling their venture Cindicate Productions, Flippo, Greene and James have already completed numerous short films and projects, and are looking forward to entering the world of short-film competition in the coming years.
All three partners have their own strengths to lend to Cindicate, which meant that forming the production company and divvying up the tasks came almost naturally. It also didn’t hurt that the three have been friends for years.
The three recently completed “Dogberry,” a short film “about a man who returns to his former home after a tragedy,” said James, who penned the piece and played the lead role.
“I’ve known Ben (Greene) since we were about five or six years old,” he said. “Ben is our editor and amazing director of photography.” James complimented his friend on his uncanny ability to set up perfect shots. “He sees them, points us in that direction, and they’re beautiful.”
The childhood friends met Flippo in high school, and could see at once that he was going to be an outstanding writer.
“Chris (Flippo) really wants to direct,” said James. “He’s a great writer.”
Though James wrote “Dogberry,” he confesses that he is not the real writer of the group – that honor belongs to Flippo, who currently has a project in the works that has the potential to be made into a feature-length film.
“I’m not really that much of a writer or a director, but I was the first one that had two things that were kind of ready to go,” said James. “The ones that I’ve kind of written have been more about loss and kind of finding a hope in the end of a tragedy.”
Writing lines is not his true passion, however; performing them is. “I’m mainly interested in acting and I’d like to get into directing more,” said James. After graduating from Ridgeland High School, he attended Dalton State University and became very involved in the Chattanooga theatre scene during his college years, prompting him to move to Los Angeles to attend the Academy of Dramatic Arts, from which he graduated in 2010.
James returned to the area in March 2012, and he now does most of the acting for Cindicate’s projects.
“When I moved back we just kind of formed (Cindicate) with the three of us,” he said.
The three have set their sights on a new project, called “Ash Run,” which they hope to start filming in early March.
Flippo is writing “Ash Run,” which James calls “kind of a coming-of-age story” about siblings who are “trying to get back to their relationship that they had when they were younger.”
“I wanted to be a little darker and dramatic and then at the end there’s hope,” he said.
At this point, the three partners are hoping to make a name for themselves on the film festival circuit.
“We are entering film festivals,” he said. “Really with Cindicate we’re all just trying to figure out with how we work together.”
However, they do hope to make longer features at some point, and work on more involved films.
“We hope to eventually get to do bigger projects with real crews and everything,” said James. “So we just kind of gradually climb.”
With any luck, one of Flippo’s stories in the works, titled “Future West,” will inspire the trio to expand the project to a full-length feature film in the next couple of years. Flippo himself was a production assistant to John Summerour, director of the film “Sahkanaga,” which enjoyed acclaim in the past couple of years for its portrayal of a tragedy similar to the Tri-State Crematory scandal in Rock Spring in 2002.
“He’s a big inspiration,” said James. “We’d love to work with him eventually.”
At the moment, the three are sticking to smaller projects, with a smaller budget, as they are financing the films on their own.
“Right now, we’re funding everything out of our own pockets,” said James. “We’re always up for donations, we’ve never actually asked for any.”
“We’ve talked about if we do a bigger project maybe going through Indiegogo or Kickstarter,” which are websites where people can donate to specific projects they would like to see.
Before all that, however, Cindicate just wants people to see their work.
All of their videos are available on YouTube. Cindicate also has a Facebook page that is updated regularly.
“We’d love for people to see our projects,” said James.