Updates on “Erk”: A film in production by two student alumni

Matthew Enfinger

In the summer of 2013, two Georgia Southern University alumni began production on a major motion picture about Statesboro legend Erk Russell.

After his career as defensive coordinator for the University of Georgia under Vince Dooley, Erk Russell came to GS and revived GS’s football program after more than 40 years of dormancy.

With his tenacity and leadership, Russell led GS to three national championships.

The film, titled Erk, will explore Russell’s personal life as it pertains to being coach.

Erica Rountree, sophomore computer science major, was unaware of the movie being made on the Statesboro legend.

“I’d consider seeing it because I know he’s a legend at GS. So, it’d be great to see his lifetime and what he did in a movie,” Rountree said.

Beau Turpin, GS alumnus and producer for the film, and James Kicklighter, the film’s director, answered a few lingering questions about the long-awaited film.

“We are still in development on the film, the film has not been “canceled” as some online message boards have discussed,” Turpin and Kicklighter said in a collective statement in an email.

The film gained excitement and attention when scenes were filmed at the 2013 Blue White spring football game at Paulson Stadium.

“We did this shoot because Paulson Stadium was getting ready for its expansion, and without that footage, we wouldn’t have had the stadium in the form that was as close to the original as when Erk was at Georgia Southern,” Turpin and Kicklighter said in a collective statement.

Paulson Stadium will not be the only Statesboro destination recreated. Snooky’s, a once popular hangout spot for Coach Russell, will be recreated through the use of an extensive photo library of the restaurant that was taken before it closed.

Turpin and Kicklighter said that they are still interested in seeking help from the GS student body.

“We want the student body to be involved. We will need a lot of extras that are college students, presenting an immediate opportunity,” Kicklighter said. “We do want to create opportunities for students to get real life training as production assistants or internships as well.”

There has been a mystery as to who is playing the lead part of Coach Erk Russell.

Although no comment has been made on who will play the lead part of Erk Russell, Turpin did state what he would like to see in an actor in a Savannah Now article.

“He’s going to have to fly to Athens and Statesboro and do some research on the community and who Erk was,” Turpin said. “We want to find somebody who can make this one of the best films you’ve seen because it’s not just a sports film.”

Turpin and Kicklighter have gone to great lengths in an attempt to find the ideal “Erk.”

“We have spent a lot of time developing the script, interviewing hundreds of people within Erk’s network across the country, with the support of his family, friends, and former athletes, as well as arranging cameos from various athletic, political, and pop culture figures,” Turpin and Kicklighter said in a collective statement. “With a movie like this, there is no second chance, no remake. You only get one shot, and we intend to get it right. There’s no reason to rush that process,”

The movie will be shot in Statesboro, Athens and likely Savannah.

No release date has been determined for the film.